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The Creative Issue – News for Creatives | June 3, 2020

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Slamming It!

Slamming It!
Photo by Cat Sidh.

Photo by Cat Sidh.

Everyday Australians will soon to take to the stage at the Queensland State Library to compete in the second Brisbane heat of the 2013 Australian Poetry Slam.

“Poetry is supposed to be spoken out loud,” explains Candy Bowers, a fellow poet and the facilitator of the event on August 9. “Poetry needs to be spoken for it to be given life.”

The concept of the ‘slam’ is simple. Two minutes is all each competitor has to impress. They may choose to share poetry, tell a story or even perform hip-hop. One thing is non-negotiable: the work must be their own.

Contestants are then scored out of 10 by five judges randomly selected from the audience. The highest and lowest scores are discounted to produce a final total.

2007 marked the first year of the Australian Poetry Slam. The winner then was Marc Testart, Victorian barrister in another life.

News of Testart’s white-collar job may seem surprising, yet he is far from an anomaly of the sport. The events attract an eclectic mix of people from all walks of life. Aboriginal elders, teachers, businessmen and even police have been known to take to the stage to perform their work.

“It’s a total leveller,” says Bowers. “(It) humanses everyone because you have to stop and wait and listen.”

She says people yearn to hear about everyday lives and experiences. For many, the slam provides that outlet.

The concept is not without its critics. Some have decried its transformation of poetry into a competition that simply rewards what is deemed to be most popular.

Bowers provides a different account.

“By the time you become an adult, people dont have a creative outlet,” she says.

“With poetry, every single word, every voice, every perspective…is right. There’s no wrong with poetry.”

While the main reward may be a personal one, the prizes on offer for those who excel provide added motivation. The winner of this year’s national title will walk away with the opportunity to present at two of Asia’s largest literary festivals, including the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival next year.

Sign-up for the heat opens 30 minutes prior to its start and audience members can reserve their free ticket online.

The Queensland State Finals will be held in Brisbane in September.


What? Heat 2 Brisbane, Australian Poetry Slam 2013

When? 7.00pm, Friday 9 August (sign-up from 6.30pm)

Where? Queensland Terrace, Level 2, State Library of Queensland

How much? Free

More info? Visit the State Library of Queensland’s website for further details