Featured Event


Friday, June 12 @ 8:00pm


Conduit Arts
83 Brunswick Street Fitzroy



Has an Open Mic?


Melbourne Spoken Word is excited to present a special show, Showcase, in conjunction with Conduit Arts on Brunswick Street. Featuring 6 poets, we’ve got a few emerging poets, a few unknowns a


Listen to the latest issue of Audacious

Listen to the latest issue of Audacious, the audio-journal of Melbourne Spoken Word, a quarterly album of spoken word of the most bold and fresh voices in Melbourne.

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Comment — May 26

In defence of slam and what we make with it

By Benjamin Solah

Slam poetry. The term isn’t so much loaded but more what other people have loaded it onto it, a gun with whatever ammo you want to shoot out of it, but regardless is very much a major part of poetry and spoken word in Melbourne. I see it as attached to a revival in contemporary poetics around the world, particularly for popularising poetry amongst young people. Love it or hate it. You have to respect it and what it does.

In Melbourne, we have Slamalamadingdong, Word SLAM?!, the new Slam of the Century, poet IQ hosted a bunch of slams years back and we’ve done a Drag Slam and have a special slam event on later in the year, as well as compete in the Australian Poetry Slam every year.

I’ve been thinking a bit about slam, my own approach to it in my own writing and performance practice, and in relation to how people approach it following Bill Moran touring Melbourne last week. We billed him as a “US slam poet” and I did wonder at times whether some people didn’t turn up to the gig due to that term, that they’ve attached what they think of slam to what they expect Bill to be like. The thing about Bill though is that if you want to call ‘slam’ a ‘genre’, then Bill has some hallmarks of what slam is perceived to be, but also incredibly experimental in his use of language and pushes the boundaries of those tropes. He is loud and punchy but probably without the usual story arc or intensity arc that a lot of people would point to to say it’s all the same.

This debate came up during The Dirty Thirty Poetry Month, when Abdul Hammoud (sorry to single you out!) set a prompt one day to write ‘a slam poem.’ It caused a bit of controversy with many refusing to do the prompt, and arguing about their issues with slam, or whether or not it’s a genre. Is it a genre or is it simply a format for a poetry event? I think Marc Smith’s original intentions were the latter, an

Reviews — May 22

Captured Whispers

By Fury

Review by Fury

If Captured Whispers were running again, I would attend as many times as possible as there was so much in each performance that I’m sure I missed 90% of what was going on.

Andy Jackson’s work was to do with the loss of his father and the exploration of selfhood. With a tiny, puppet version of himself perched on a suitcase, he read about his father. What stuck with me was the longing in the poem – particularly for touch and embrace.

One of my most loved aspects of puppetry is being able to play with scale and pushing how far the audience will forgive the surrealism of a piece. Jackson’s work particularly hit the mark in the moments when there was a gaze held between Jackson and the puppet. It was as though he were looking at himself; as though he were his father and the puppet, him or perhaps as though he was in a mirrored hallway and he become recursive.

I really liked Terence Jaensch’s poem worked with Eliza Jane Gilchrist. Upon entering the venue, the audience was given a small package with the poem on the back and told not to open it. During the performance, the poem was read three times. Once, quickly. Then, we were instructed to open the package and inside was the poem performance was through several items – a Rochester blot eye mask, some alphabet pasta, an emergency landing card with the phrase “I’m trying to lift love, I am trying”, and a bent plastic spoon.

Call me old fashioned* but bribery always pleases me. I very much liked the poetry party bag. I think the main selling point for this piece, however, was the overwhelm of emotion on the third reading. Jaensch explained that he was an orphan and the closest person he had to a mother had died a couple of days before the launch of the book that included this poem. As such, the poem is permanently entwined with that grief and it was really intense to experience that in the final reading.

Barry Dickens and Rod Primrose worked a p

Interviews — May 21

The Last Word with Jennifer Compton

By Benjamin Solah

Amanda Anastasi talks to Jennifer Compton about Now You Shall Know.

This collection contains observations about family and the various people you have encountered. There is the woman at Flinders St Station, the Dutch widow, a Frankston masseur. Has anyone recognised themselves in your poems?

No. I am thinking of going down the road though, and showing the Dutch widow her poem. I would have loved to have been a photographer. I should have been one.

The subtitle of your title poem Now You Shall Know mentions an aria sung by Maria Callas. Were you listening to this piece while you were writing this poem? Do you listen to music while you are writing?

I wasn’t, and no I don’t. There are enough sounds that surround us. I can’t take too much noise these days.

The Name Of The Street refers to Hope Street in Brunswick, where Jill Meagher was murdered. What kind of response did you receive to this poem.?

Interestingly, there has been more interest in this poem overseas.

If you could choose the name of the street you lived in, what would it be called?

Bridge Street. I used to live in Bridge Street. The bridge between Australia and New Zealand, the bridge between page and stage, between men and women, between young and old. I like to be in the middle.

In Four Lines By Ezra Pound you touch on plagiarism. How difficult is it to be original?

It is difficult not to be original.

What is your favourite word?

Emeraude, a word I must have misread years ago in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, because I can’t find it in any of the versions now. I thought I read – ‘as green as emeraude’.

Name the poetry collection you have kept referring to.

Selected Poems by Yevtushenko, in the Penguin Modern European Poets series.

A poem I have read many times is Auden’s September 1, 1939.

Poetic self-portrait: in no more than seven words, describe Jennifer C