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A beautiful review of Steve's poetry reading Print E-mail
Saturday, 02 April 2005
Juliet Greentree attended Steve's poetry recital at Gleebooks in March 2005 and shared her thoughts on the event and the complexities involved in briefly meeting someone you've already known for most of your life.

Hi All,
Well, I got to meet one of my really-truly idols last Friday night at a book reading? Steve Kilbey, the lead singer of the Church. I?ve never met a ?star? before ? I?ve met Bill Bryson at a book signing (he was sweet), and I walk past Georgie Parker sometimes in the morning (they shoot ?All Saints? near where I live). But this was the first time I?ve ever had that experience of meeting someone who, because of their art, I really felt I had a connection to in some way, although in fact I don?t know them at all, and they certainly didn?t know me from a bar of soap.

So...what was it to have The Man, standing in front of me reading from his book, and then sitting waiting to sign my book and talking cheerfully about how he wasn?t going to make a Shakespearean joke about my name?

Well, it was absolutely and unequivocally charming. He?s middle-aged. His hair is fine and greying and a mess. He was painfully shy ? he wouldn?t look at anyone, the whole time he was reading and talking, except when he was being asked a question (he did look at me when I asked mine!). He was hesitant and vulnerable and honest and said a whole lot of things about his inspirations, and his recurring theme/preoccupation (which was spirituality and the Divine by the way ? and that was the question I asked), and a whole lot of very personal stuff that perhaps he feels self-conscious about now ? but shouldn?t because we so much wanted to hear what he had to say. He was kind about encouraging people to ask questions (including me because I was feeling a bit timid) and thoughtful and articulate and funny in his answers.

The thing I find interesting now is this sense that this person I met, much as I liked him ? and yes, I really do mean actually liked, and was interested in, aside from all the hero-worship ? isn?t the SK that I have heard speaking and singing and expressing in all the music that I have heard, nor the one I wrote my short stories Ariel and Happy Hunting Ground about. Of course it is, but in another sense perhaps it is not. The reason why it was so embarrassing to stand in front of SK and mumble, thank you for your music it?s meant so much to me (which is what I said by the way - and I think it embarassed him as much as me), is that he?ll never be able to know what it really did mean, and on some level, even if he?s grateful for my admiration, there?s no particular reason why he should.

It seems ironic that I can walk into any music shop and spend $30 on a CD and access all SK?s ? sorry, and the rest of the Church?s of course (all hail M W-P) - imagination and poetry and melodies and ideas without lifting a finger in effort, whereas meeting the person in the flesh, which was much harder to do, was relatively mundane ? not because SK wasn?t all I thought he would be but because I wasn?t going to see all he is in that short space of time and nor would he see it in me. Which just goes to show he was right. All of this ? the writing, the music, the transaction that occurs when we give our art to one another - is really about transferring the Divine, without the imperfect human processes of dialoguing and dodging our insecurities and inabilities to articulate and all the rest of it having to get in the way. It doesn?t matter if I found no way into my inner figure - that amalgam of the pale paisley elf on the cover of Heyday, the cynical black-wearing junkie of Starfish, the reflective, mature poet of After Everything Now This and the lotus-eating explorer/mystic of Forget Yourself - via the nice man I met the other night. My figure?s still there and he wasn?t destroyed by the experience of meeting the real thing. It?s just that now that figure has a slightly more human face, which holds its own enchantment.

So there it is. And my last memory is of an unremarkable middle-aged man in a brown cord jacket walking down the street past the restaurant where my friend and I went to eat afterwards, swinging his umbrella. Perhaps he was thinking of All That Is and the Divinity in it, or thinking of Shy Young Women and wondering Why They Insist On Saying What?s Fundamentally Unsayable, or perhaps thinking of none of these things, but hoping to get home to his bed, to fall asleep with the rain outside. Or maybe he got home and put on a CD of someone else?s music or picked up a book and experienced a sense of wonder that someone else was able to give to him what he received from it. Whatever the case I hope he had a magical night because I certainly did. Cheers.

Juliet Greentree

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