When Pressed

Eileen Chong

Reads at the Gun Club


AusPo Archive

Poet Eileen Chong reads at the Gun Club in Newcastle, Sunday October 2nd. This poetry reading was the final event of the Critical Animals symposium, as part of the TINA (This Is Not Art) festival held annually in Newcastle. The Gun Club, as we dubbed it, is really the United Services Club, a wonderful building that dates back to 1884 when it was the chambers for the Newcastle Borough. The building was designed by the city engineer John Sharp in the “Victorian free classical style with rendered brickwork”, according to a Heritage assessment done in 2004. The Committee room, where the reading took place, is a room with a large table and chairs, some lounges, and a hefty chunk of war memorabilia from conflicts of the 19th & 20th century. Most notably, on the wall to left in this video frame, is a captured Japanese command flag, and behind the poet in this frame is a Buddha-like figure given pride of place on the wall. A plaque states that it is a goddess of plenty “souvernired” from the Chinese Boxer Rebellion, although Eileen said it was actually a goddess of mercy. On the fireplace mantle at the back of the room is a cluster of decommissioned munitions, mostly small missiles, and some smaller ammo that had been given metal handles and turned into a trophy of sorts. It was on one of these silver bullets that I rested my little fish-eye lens. As the wide-frame turns out, Eileen seems quite distant in the frame, and the space of the room seems the proper subject of the video, into which the poet enters sound. Unfortunately the recording quality of the sound doesn’t capture the way the poets entered sound into the space, although the amplification system didn’t do their noise justice either. As people with fish-eye cameras, this will have to be a limitations of our world: we film a space around the poet and then poorly represent the sound she enters in to fill out the event.