Last night I had the opportunity to attend the Victorian Poetry Slam Finals at the State Library of Victoria (and dragged my family along with me too). As the night’s MC Joel McKerrow began his introductory poem I knew I was exactly where I wanted to be. The entire night was enthralling, and my emotions and senses were captivated by these 13 amazing spoken word poets who had made it through the heats to be battling it out for a chance to head to the Australian Poetry Slam finals at the Sydney Opera house in two weeks time.
The diverse group of finalists included an 8 year old girl talking about the grotesqueness of the tooth fairy, an older man discussing love between vegans, a younger man pushing against preconceptions about his autism, and several poets from ethnic minorities moving me to the verge of tears when describing their interactions in everyday Australia and their personal or familial diasporas. The overall winner was the final of the 13 poets, Seynab Farah, a young woman in a head covering whose poem about cultural assumptions was intensely engaging and glaringly pertinent in todays times of racial vilification.
Even though the general idea of this blog is to discuss the physical word in public spaces, I feel that spoken word poetry is a similarly communicative art form, with it’s use of both body and voice to capture (and enrapture) audience. The words of each poem force themselves from the private thoughts of the speaker, and become entangled against those audience members waiting for them in anticipation, imprinting themselves like text on our minds.
It was an experience which went well above my expectations and after it was all over I felt invigorated, as if the very essence of all those wonderful poetic words had wound themselves into my soul. Everyone who heard these wonderful poets must surely have left inspired to write some of their own. I know I was.
(For anyone who wants to experience some poetry in Melbourne, you can visit https://melbournespokenword.com/ for upcoming event details.)