US Army map of Brisbane circa 1948
Brisbane Poetry Map (BPM) was borne of a long-standing desire of Queensland Poetry Festival (QPF) to poetically map this city for all to hear it with new ears. Inspired in part by the Melbourne Poetry Map project, funding was then successfully sought from Copyright Agency and Brisbane City Council, enabling the creation of Brisbane’s first digital poetry map.
‘Writing has nothing to do with signifying. It has to do with surveying, mapping, even realms that are yet to come.’ Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus 4-5
BPM showcases five specially curated poetic trails, each containing site-specific recordings of some of Brisbane’s finest established and emerging voices.
In selecting both the trails and the writers, we felt it was important to spotlight the diversity of lives that underpin this city as well as allowing the poets to create their own impressions of place. The result is a map that illuminates both beauty and change in Brisbane, a survey of what lies within its streets and river beyond the edges of a map.
All we can advise is that you walk these trails with open ears, a bottle of water and good shoes, and take the time to place yourself in each poet’s view to see the familiar in a new frame.
We will leave it to our curators of each of the five walks below to give you some sense of their choice of locations:
South Bank Walk – curator Jackie Ryan, local writer & artist
Located on the former World Expo 88 site, the South Bank Parklands are a significant physical legacy of that event. Together with the adjacent Queensland Cultural Centre, they comprise a large and versatile cultural precinct across the river from Brisbane’s CBD. The sites chosen for this walk are landmarks and artefacts from before, during, and after Brisbane’s Expo 88 assisted the city’s ‘coming of age’: the Brisbane river, a sculpture from the exposition, the artificial beach built at the event’s conclusion, the ferris wheel established to mark the event’s 20th anniversary, and a statue commissioned on the grounds of the arts precinct – grounds that now extend from the parklands to Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art.
Brisbane City Walk – curator David Stavanger, QPF Co-Director
Is the heart of the city the heart of the city? The process for the sites chosen for this walk was via open call out on social media – what sites matter to you in Brisbane’s city and CBD? Over fifty sites were suggested by people that either grew up or live in Brisbane today. Some the sites are no longer, some altered, some thriving still. In the end four sites were selected (with a fifth special commissioned piece on its way.) There is a heartbeat here, fits and starts, never stops.
Fortitude Valley Walk – curator Charlie Thompson, Music Industry College
Local emcee Rainman appropriately sums up Fortitude Valley in his track The Valley; ‘It’s full of colourful characters like Bollywood flicks, but some are are as plastic as Hollywood chicks … it’s an alcohol-fuelled bottomless pit.’ When selecting venues, I wanted to showcase the diversity of this area, to highlight the spots where the “colourful characters” congregate. I also wanted to choose iconic locations in the Valley that related to the music industry as this is a major draw card for the area. In many ways, I reflected on my own experiences as a “musician” visiting the Valley.
Kangaroo Point Walk – curator Annie Te Whiu, QPF Co-Director
Overlooking the Brisbane River on the east bank towards the northern end, the Kangaroo Point cliffs stand as a significant landmark of Brisbane city. The cliffs hold iconic structures such as the Scout Place, Lamb House and the Venus Rising sculpture. St Mary’s Church built in 1873 is also perched up high on these cliffs. Behind the cliffs are tucked smaller streets with heritage listed cottages which are a reflection of early settlement in Brisbane. Raymond Park is a precious open space within Kangaroo Point that provides a public ground for local community to gather, play and relax. The two air raid shelters that still stand in Raymond Park hark back to Brisbane during World War II.
Kurilpa (West End) Walk – curator Ellen van Neerven, black&write!
Kurilpa, meaning place of the water rat, or West End, continues to be a meeting point ripe with story and memory. The Jagera and Turrbal knew this place when it was a dense rainforest of giant ferns and staghorns. Musgrave Park, bordered by Edmonstone, Russell, and Cordelia Streets, is a sacred and iconic site for Murris and is one of few remaining green spaces in Meanjin’s inner city. Our poetry walk begins here, travels down Boundary Street, the name referring to the town limit established in 1855, that forcefully kept Aboriginal people out. The back streets of West End are spots for public art – both commissioned and uncommissioned – artists and activists using the walls and spaces to make meaning.
Brisbane Poetry Map is supported by Copyright Agency and Brisbane City Council.