It was a great night at Maison Ashby. John Passant is a truly authentic poet with an Australian voice. Mili is a great tune smith and player. The house was full and the company was great.

Thanks to everyone.

John Passant is a former tax lecturer and Assistant Commissioner of Taxation in charge of international tax reform in the ATO.

John is also a PhD student in the School of Politics and International Relations at the ANU. He is looking into the political economy of taxation.

He has been a member of the Canberra press gallery and has written extensively on Australia politics and economics.

John’s first book of poetry, Songs for the Band Unformed, was published in 2016.

Passant writes both political and personal poetry. His subject matter includes the changing world, country life, his schooldays and the feeling of alienation many people have from society.

“There’s always a sense of hope in my poetry, a hope for a new world of equity and equality,” he said.

“The poems Mili has picked out are the more personal poems.”

They first met when Mili taught Johns son guitar who has gone onto a subsequent teaching guitar himself.

They kept in touch and were chatting once after an Awesome gig when the idea of turning some of Passant’s poems into songs arose – and later, it became a reality.

This knitting together of poetry and music began last year when John gave Milena three poems to set to song for the National Folk Festival 2018. Since then, Milena has been working hard to compose music to recreate an album’s worth of John’s more personal poetry. It is a project that John has been keen to see through to completion and, though he is battling a rare form of lung cancer, he is determined to tour with The Awesome and celebrate the collaboration. The CD also has John reading his poetry backed by Milena’s classical guitar compositions.

The Awesome, self-described musical gypsies, travel and perform around the country, including at the 2018 National Folk Festival in Canberra.

Passant also read some of his poems on the album. He says when he went to the recording studio at Artsound in Manuka, “I went in and recorded my four poems in 20 or 30 minutes.

“They called me ‘One-take John’.

“It was a wonderful experience to hear.”

And now, at the launch, Passant and the Awesome will be joined by other musicians to perform some of the pieces.

Robbie Percussion
Max on Trombone
JB on Mandolin
Mike on Blues Harp.
John Passant

Milena says: “John’s poetry is a vital body of work for Australian poetry; at once thought-provoking, sensitive, brutal, honest and always hopeful. The poems shake and stir the dust in your soul, remaining there long after the dust has settled.”

Hailing from Far East Gippsland in Victoria, The Awesome are self-described “musical gypsies” who travel and perform constantly around the country, including at the 2018 National Folk Festival.

Mili is a talented guitar player and singer song writer. She has released several CDs of original music highlighting her love of folk/jazz fusion and her impressive interpretive range.

Jim, playing distinctive upright bass, is also a talented percussionist with a flair for African, Latin, jazz and blues rhythms, having learnt his craft from the legendary Stui Spears of Max Merritt and the Meteors, and through performing with blues greats The Chain.

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