PASCALLE – A TAMELY WILD HEARTBEAT
As Pascalle Burton stands before her audience, eagerly awaiting eyes and equally eager ears await to be enthused. “Tame is the new wild,” is a mantra she uses to describe her work. She elaborates that “even though I might appear to be quite composed onstage, the experience of the poetry can be subtly invasive”. Pascalle’s soothing voice serenades the microphone as she visually adapts Yoko Ono’s book Grapefruit. “Beat Piece: Listen to a heartbeat.” Boom Boom. A slow and steady heartbeat pulses through the speakers. Boom Boom. “Earth Piece: Listen to the sound of the Earth turning.” A crescendo of eerie violin notes slices through the previously calming, soul-pumping thud. Boom Boom. “Collecting piece: Collect sounds in your mind that you have overhead through the week. Repeat these sounds in different orders one afternoon.” A mysterious feminine voice hums through the speakers, as all the previous sounds mingle into a form of melodic magic. Boom Boom. The heartbeat, once a tame reassuring pulse of existence, Boom Boom, gradually manifests into a suffocatingly wild record that refuses to cease, Boom Boom.
A ‘multi-disciplinary’ artist and teacher in her mid thirties, Pascalle fuses written poetry with performance, sonic and visual art. She cites that she is influenced by cultural theory and conceptual art as they perpetuate thinking. But her heartbeat isn’t always tame and Pascalle says it’s really hard to find a balance between the necessities of the real world and the fancies of her creativity. “Poetry is not the most lucrative occupation. Sometimes it feels like I live a few different lives at once,” she says. One of her greatest enemies in life is time, as it forces her mind to be constantly cluttered with concepts and balance many different projects simultaneously. “It might not seem organised but I can be a bit of a machine, things building gradually all the time!” she says. However, Pascalle possesses passion in abundance and she has gradually developed a love for ‘the grind’ in her creative endeavours. “There is something really rewarding in just working at something that is important to you,” she says. “If I didn’t have art projects, I would feel a real emptiness, so regardless of how busy everything is, I have to do it.”
When Pascalle’s heart isn’t pulsing with poetic performance nerves, she unearths time to be a substitute teacher. Recently, Pascalle was selected to facilitate a poetry master class at Bond University. The class is for writers to explore areas of poetic voice and experimental poetry. Bond University community engagement manager Sharon Solyma says Pascalle provided imaginative insight toward the development of the concept. “Pascalle is a wonderful collaborator, she is a creative wildflower and a profoundly interesting artist,” she says. At the master class, Pascalle assumes the role of a pedagogue. She is pedantic, shuffling through the mountains of activities she has meticulously prepared. She is inspirational, indulging in the odd quintessential quote. “Our imagination, what goes on in our brain, is a cinema, only we can see it,” she says as she provides techniques on how to capture that cinema on paper. There is a brooch attached to her dress that could easily be mistaken as her golden heart of creativity, beating to the drum of her elegant poetic passion. Boom Boom. It immediately begs your eyes for attention, a halo of gleaming glitter, a mishmash of lizards, pearls and gemstones. Boom Boom. It is an intriguing cluster of individuality that represents Pascalle’s personality to perfection. Boom Boom. She made the brooch as part of a collection. “The pieces combine the ideas of trash and style and are mostly worn only by the brave!” Pascalle explains. Boom Boom. Her creative blood then charges through her pool-table green veins and artistic energy explodes out of her pink fingernails and purple hair. Boom Boom.
Pascalle has always been creatively inclined and was encouraged to embrace her artistic endeavours throughout her adolescence. Pascalle’s older sister, Almaryse, is a singer and currently studying to be a producer. But Pascalle’s childhood is a “giant blur of jump cuts”, although, she remembers being that girl in school who always had her nose nestled in her favourite authors’ latest books. Pascalle’s studious streak swayed her on to study a Bachelor of Education as a secondary english and drama teacher and complete a Masters in Arts and Media. “I love studying and was a bit of a nerd – an arty nerd, but a nerd nonetheless!” she says. Her degree gave Pascalle the opportunity to travel overseas, giving her a real perspective on how special Australia is. “Even though I still like going on adventures, I love living in Brisbane,” she says. As she settled back into Australia, Pascalle found a solid poetry community where she began to focus on writing and performance. At home, Pascalle’s heart beats for her songwriter partner Ian. Their ‘hypnotic obsession’ with the Brisbane River has led them to reside in New Farm. “It’s a bit of a creative hub at our place!” Pascalle says. “I am in his band The Stress of Leisure, so we have co-written songs and we do the album covers and poster designs together too.”
Another artist whose creative heart pulses in unison with Pascalle’s, is long-time collaborator and friend, David Stavanger. In his work with Pascalle, David says he’s never had it easier. “Pascalle is really organised and has very clear deadlines,” he laughs, as he compares it to his completely opposite demeanour. He describes Pascalle as a lady who doesn’t need to tell you she’s a lady. David says Pascalle deals with issues such as sex and sexuality in a much more subtle and clever way then a lot of writers. “When I first saw her get up on stage, there was this feeling of electricity. There was a point of difference, a new voice which I hadn’t really experienced.” He was also sure to mention Pascalle is incredibly classy. “She’s the best dressed poet in town by a long way.” Furthermore, Pascalle’s collaborations with David left a lasting impact on his view of her artistic integrity. “She’s someone who loves the arts, and lives the arts and I have immense respect and admire her hugely for that.”
Pool-table green veins in check, a colour she chose to describe her personality, it is here we must depart with Pascalle. Boom Boom. As her gold brooch bedazzled heart continues to beat, she looks forward to presenting a paper at the Contemporary Woman’s Writing Association conference in Melbourne. Boom Boom. Pascalle is now more project-driven, focusing on creating recordings, zines, installations, films, shows, or other kinds of artefacts. Boom Boom. “It’s a compulsion, I guess.” Boom Boom. And when her tamely wild heartbeat can be heard no longer? Boom Boom. “I don’t have any desire to be remembered, but if I am, I would hope that it is for being uncompromising in my work,” she says. Boom Boom. After all, it’s not every day you meet someone like Pascalle; a Performance Poet Pedagogue. Boom.