La Mama Poetica is an evening of some of the best spoken word and poetry to be found in Melbourne. Each Poetica event features four diverse poets, with a range of styles and personalities – some established, others emerging. It will always be the place to come to hear our finest Melbourne poets, as well as the new and cutting edge contemporary poets.
The first poetry events held at La Mama Theatre date back to the 1970s, and La Mama Poetica is proud to continue the presentation of poets at this much-loved venue. Currently Poetica is held at the heritage-listed La Mama Courthouse Theatre, an icon of the performing arts in Melbourne. It is a beautiful intimate space for poets to perform in.
La Mama Poetica is curated by Amanda Anastasi and is held quarterly on a Tuesday night, usually in February, April, August and October.
Slam of the Century is a celebration of contemporary slam competitions. In it, twenty poets will have exactly three minutes to say their piece. The winner is selected by the audience and such shall receive a fitting prize (probably a recorder, I dunno, I’ll see what I can rustle up. Remember, this is all about the prestige, the fun, but mostly the bragging rights, so swing by Sydney Road for a night of slam and debacle.
A Melbourne poetry event that’s been running for over a decade – West Word poetry holds regular events at the Dancing Dog Cafe to host various poets from around the country.
Along with a different feature poet at each session, there is an open stage section, which is open to anyone of any style: emerging, established, multilingual, slam, lyrical, experimental… (within a 5 minute time limit.) Just show at the venue, put your name on the list, and read to a receptive encouraging audience.
Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa performs her winning poem, “To Advance Australia Fair” at Slamalamadingdong on June 26, 2015.
Video produced by Melbourne Spoken Word, Filmed by Benjamin Solah and Freeman Trebilcock, and edited by Benjamin Solah.
Performed at Slamalamadingdong, at 24 Moons in Northcote. Slamalamadingdong is held on the last Friday of each month.
Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa is a #grownwoman, hairy, single and ready to mingle, and a storyteller. You’ll find her on park benches dnm’ing with strangers about the evils of the patriarchy or impromptu rapping about Tony Abbott with her best mate. She is passionate about the performing arts and inherently merges her advocacy background with the arts. Sukhjit, from a young age, enjoyed writing pieces and performing them for her family. In fact, her first script was written when she was just 6 years old. However, while on exchange in Prague, a Bulgarian backpacker hijacked Sukhjit’s laptop and typed in ‘Sarah Kay’, exposing her to the magical world of spoken word poetry. Since then she has been workshopping pieces and it was only until the Australian Poetry Slam Competition last year that she decided to perform spoken word for a wider audience, spiralling off into a YouTube Channel titled Contemporary Kaur. Sukhjit’s writing predominatly surrounds stories of the Sikh diaspora, family, cultural confusions, and gender. She is still discovering the art form of slam poetry and experimenting with style and content while she currently resides in the ‘big city’ of Melbourne. For her, the journey has just begun.
Yesterday, we talked about the why and how of making videos of your poetry or spoken word. Whilst a recording of a live performance is the obvious and probably best way to record your work, there are also other creative ways of approaching the video. Again, think of the diversity of music videos. We wanted to accompany yesterday’s piece with a few examples.
Live: If you’re going to do it live, best to do it somewhere special. Do it at the gig you love, the open mic you always perform it, or do it someplace really special. It’s not incidental.
This video of Tariro Mavondo, produced by Jeevika Rajagopal and James Beyerle, recorded at Slamalamadingdong records her performance at Jam Slam.
Or record a poem live out on the street. This guys isn’t a Melbourne poet but the live location fuels this piece by Brando Chemtrails.
Animation: One of the most ingenious examples of animated spoken word video is this video from Randall Stephens. His poem ‘I Statements’ with the help of Alex Scott brings the words to life on the screen for you and is very appropriate to the content of the poem.
With a background: Omar Musa’s video of ‘Fireflies’ is simple, one shot, recorded on location, with an interesting but not overwhelming background behind him. If you’re wanting to record something, it only takes you to step outside, out of your bedroom to find a location that’s a bit classier or grungier.
Similarly, Alia Gabres’ video, uses a plain black background. It has a similar effect.
On Location: Or you could go out a bit further like Fleassy Malay did, and record in a really interesting location.
Something totally different: Most of you will know this one but it blows videos out of the water. Luka Lesson’s video to ‘Please Resist Me’ taps into the spoken word community using other poets lip s
Poetry videos, especially on YouTube, are becoming a popular introduction to spoken word, performance poetry and especially slam poetry. With the growth of channels like Button Poetry and viral poetry videos of poets like Sarah Kaye and Taylor Mali, many people have discovered spoken word online potentially without coming across the live version in their own city.
We make no secret that one of Melbourne Spoken Word’s focus points is expanding the amount of work of Melbourne poets and performers available as video online, on our own YouTube Channel. We believe that one or two good quality videos of a poet’s work can help to increase their profile and the profile of live events in Melbourne.
Whilst Melbourne Spoken Word, with the help of poet Freeman Trebilcock, plus the YouTube channel, RealPoetryMovies presented by Ken Smeaton, get around to gigs and try and film people, we think you should consider getting out there and doing a video or two of your own work. We should also mention at this point that the work of David McLauchlan, who for many years recorded poetry and spoken word around Melbourne and broadcast it through his TV show, Red Lobster on Channel 31, where you can still access all 275 episodes, recorded between 2003 and 2012.
Why would you make a video of your work? The simple answer is so that people who potentially want to see you perform, and ask you to perform at their event know what you’re like on stage. A video is often the best analogue to your live performance, even for those who consider themselves ‘page poets.’ Of course, for some, poetry published on the page might be the best or another way to introduce your work, or perhaps radio or audio recording. A video is useful in particular for those with more performative and aural aspects to your work. It’s an example of your work for those who don’t know who you are or have never seen you perform before.
The first hurdle many p
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