and the front door.
on the way through
the hard case of living
thinking about it.
It sits somewhere
between the nightclub
and the parklands,
between the television
and the half remembered dream.
It is there
and if you have it
you can use it
to see how tomorrow
Day 2: A time-lapse video of Mark Niehus working on ‘QUIETUDE’, a Street Art Poetry Project for the City of Prospect Public Art Grant Program. 25 January 2016.
Mark Niehus talks with Zalehah Turner about writing and the process behind his multidisciplinary work
My writing comes first and is my main obsession; I have developed a way for it to drive visual forms, music and performance resulting in artwork with an original literary lineage. I explore the way my subconscious creates unpredictable forms and how I interpret these in the moment of creative conception and apply them to themes of the alter-ego, the individual, love and beauty.
My philosophy is to expand the delivery platform of poetry and to challenge conventional thinking by presenting poetry in unconventional and visually dynamic contexts. I have achieved this by integrating poetry with mixed media installations, Street Poetry, original music, film and most recently Street Art Poetry murals.
I use poetry and visual images in a way that generates associations, connotations and metaphors that aid both the words and the visual images to create a stronger presentation and interpretation for the audience, further offering an opportunity for the community to engage with poetry who may not otherwise seek it out in traditional forms. My hope is that my work has the potential of reducing preconceived ideas of what poetry is, for instance, overly romantic, complex and irrelevant to our time.
In addition, I have produced work for two solo and six group exhibitions, as well as delivering numerous Street Poetry performances as part of Splash Adelaide Waymouth Street Parties, Barossa Vintage Festival, the Adelaide Central Market and at Holden Street Theatre during the Adelaide Fringe Festival. Over the last 12 months I have also successfully completed four funded public art projects for Adelaide City Council, Prospect City Council, the City of Charles Sturt and the SALA Festival.
My work explores the mechanics of human behaviour through works that are conceived with instinct and invention to create a unique combination of poetry and visual art.
The ‘Street Poetry’ process
Spontaneous poems are composed with a typewriter on a subject of the participant’s choice, followed by an intimate reading. My aim through ‘Street Poetry’ is to broaden the delivery platform and experience of poetry to provide greater access to this still relevant art-form.
The whole ‘Street Poetry’ interaction takes about 15 – 20 mins The participant has a chat with me and then offers their subject. I then ask them to come back in about 20 mins, depending on how many poems I have in the cue. I compose the poem straight onto a typewriter with maybe a couple of edits with pen afterwards. When they return I read the poem to them which they get to keep. All participants are anonymous. I have been doing this for about 3 years. I photograph all poems for my records and have a couple of hundred which I have drawn from to integrate into my ‘Street Art Poetry.’ I may also publish a ‘Street Poetry’ collection with some stories about certain interactions as some have been quite interesting with some emotional responses to the experience.
Mark Niehus is a multi-talented, multidisciplinary poet. He published his first book of poems How Do You Want the Fire to Leave You? in 2008 and has a second forthcoming, later this year. Mark developed his ‘Street Poetry’ process, using a typewriter to compose spontaneous poems for the public on a subject of their choice, followed by an intimate reading. He performed his ‘Street Poetry’ at Zedz Café in the Adelaide Central Market as part of Australian Poetry’s Café Poet Program from April 2013 to May 2014. He recently completed a series of Street Art hand painted murals in Adelaide and Prospect Memorial Gardens. The murals are a combination of visual art and poetry. The poem for ‘QUIETUDE,’ in the city of Prospect, was originally composed using Mark’s Street Poetry process as part of his Australian Poetry Café Poet residency at Zedz Café. Mark Niehus was also a Café Poet in 2012 at Zuma Café through the AP program.
Featured Writers Part 2: Past Australian Café Poets- Curated by Zalehah Turner
Read about the Australian Poetry Café Poet Program (2009-2014)
Zalehah Turner is a Sydney based critic, writer and poet currently completing her Bachelor of Arts in Communications majoring in writing and cultural studies at the University of Technology, Sydney. Zalehah is an Associate Editor of Rochford Street Review: https://rochfordstreetreview.com/2016/02/09/welcome-zalehah-turner-rochford-street-review-associate-editor