The 2016 Melbourne Spoken Word Prize, the second year the prize has been running, aims to award money, performance and publication opportunities and professional development opportunities to a Melbourne-based poet for exceptional work in poetry and performance and outstanding and dedicated work in the field of live poetry for performance.

This year, thirty poets will compete for the title in a final event selected from a shortlist of exceptional and active poets in Melbourne as well as a random draw. Fifteen poets will be selected by gig conveners all over the city and outer regions based on exceptional work and active support for the scene. The other fifteen will be randomly selected by drawing the first fifteen names from those that apply for wildcard entry.

How do you get shortlisted?
By turning up to gigs, impressing gig conveners on the open stage or through feature spots. Gig conveners are on the lookout for those turning up, wowing audiences, producing stand out work from a diverse range of styles and gigs that encompass the great spectrum of spoken word, performance poetry, poetry readings and/or poetry slam in this city. This is to reward the poets that make our community thrive by taking part.

Who does the shortlisting?
The shortlist will be selected from conveners of the following gigs: The Dan Poets, Passionate Tongues, Voices in the Attic, Slamalamadingdong, La Mama Poetica, Girls on Key, Mother Tongue, Speak Up, Spoken Word at Oussou, West Word, Chamber Poets, Sporting Poets, To the Ends of the ‘Verse, LifePoetic, The Owl & Cat Readings, Poetic Inspirations, Di-Verse-City, the Melbourne Poets Union, Ms Millie’s Pop Up Poetry Cafe, Ruckus Slam and [email protected] Hills.

Look at for those gigs on our events page. The gig list is subject to change such as if some gigs become inactive, or we add some gigs currently unconfirmed.

What if I don’t get shortlisted?
If you don’t get selected in the shortlist, then anyone is welcome to enter the wildcard draw so anyone has the chance to impress the judges whether they’ve been picked by conveners or not. The prize is open to anyone with a residential address within Melbourne or Victoria.

When will the shortlist be announced?
In November, we’ll ask the participating gigs to send through their nominations and compile the shortlist, after that, open entry is open for a week before we draw names randomly from the hat. We will draw five alternates in case others have to pull out.

Later in the month, we’ll then livestream that draw, the order in which the poets perform and the fifteen poets randomly drawn from the open entry. We’ll also announce the final prize money and prizes.

In December on a Friday or Saturday night at a venue to be announced, we’ll get together and five judges, Michael Reynolds (Passionate Tongues), Libby Charlton (Dan Poets), Ebony MonCrief (Voices in the Attic), Will Beale (Slamalamadingdong), and Amanda Anastasi (La Mama Poetica) will decide who is to be awarded the 2016 Melbourne Spoken Word Prize, along with honourable mentions. This year, we’ve added the category of People’s Choice, decided by the audience.

So go forth, write poems, perform them, read them, slam them, go to gigs, participate and be genuine about it in support of the scene. Support the network of amazing gigs that make the scene what it is.

Photo by FreeImages.com/Gary Scott

Benjamin Solah

Benjamin Solah

Benjamin Solah is a writer, poet, spoken word artist, activist and the Director of Melbourne Spoken Word. He grew up in Western Sydney before calling Melbourne home in 2008, where he's performed since 2010 around Melbourne's regular spoken word and poetry nights including Passionate Tongues, The Dan Poets, Voices in the Attic and House of Bricks as well as the NGV and White Night. He's released a chapbook, broken bodies, and two spoken word albums, Duel Power with Santo Cazzati and The World Doesn't Make Sense EP.
Benjamin Solah

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