Saturday, September 19 @ 6:00pm
Village Roadshow Theatrette, State Library of Victoria
328 Swanston St Melbourne
Has an Open Mic?
Over a series of workshops at the State Library of Victoria, facilitators and artists Abdul Hammoud, Ebony Moncrief and Sukhjit Khalsa have been collaborating with budding wordsmiths to create new poetry and spoken word pieces exploring identity and role of faith in our everyday lives which will be launched at a free performance at the State Library of Victoria’s Village Roadshow Theatrette on Saturday 19 September 2015 from 6pm-8pm featuring spoken-word and live music.
The Common Ground participants have met every Saturday to come together to craft their own spoken word poetry by exploring topics including identity, belonging, conflict, balance and peace alongside facilitators and community liaisons Ajit Singh, Zakia Baig and Amona Hassab. Each participant has brought the wealth of their experience, coming from a range of backgrounds. Participants have been introduced to new writing techniques, group discussions and performance styles. The performance on the 19th of September will feature the work the participants and artists have created over their journey together.
In addition to the performance, a selection of the pieces created during this project will also be set to soundscapes created by Melbourne-based producer Cazeaux O.S.L.O and accompanied by a video produced by Rogue Pixel to be released online in November- stay tuned!
This project is supported by the Australia Council for the Arts, Creative Victoria, City of Melbourne, State Library of Victoria, the Victorian Multicultural Commission and Uniting Through Faiths.
Abdul Hammoud is a spoken word artist based in Melbourne by way of Lebanon, a country that he is still captivates by and connects to. Abdul has performed alongside poetic giants like Luka Lesson, Ken Arkind, Anis Mojgani, Sarah Kay, Taylor Mali and Shihan. He has also managed to teach numerous writing classes and workshops for schools and various organizations. His art has taken him as close as New Zealand and as far as the United States, as well as to his beloved home country. In 2013, he became founder of The Dirty Thirty online writing platform, an ever-growing group for writers to challenge themselves every April. He is now also editor and compiler of The Dirty Thirty Anthology, a collection of poetry from the page he coordinates. Most of his work revolves around current issues including the constant state of war in the Middle East, cultural division, as well as the portrayal of masculinity. He is also a full time student and an avid purveyor of starting books but not finishing them.
Ebony MonCrief, raised in Birmingham, Alabama, is a writer, performance poet, inspirational speaker and producer of the open mic Voices in the Attic. Through words, she explores art, music, humanity, the universe and most importantly self. Her vibrant storytelling style engages, entertains and provides audiences with a honest look at the person behind the words.
Every second Wednesday, behind the bookshelf in Sooki Lounge’s secret downstairs ‘nook’, you will find a collection of Belgrave’s local creatives opening their chests and sharing their heart with one another.
An incredibly supportive environment where each poet is greeted with genuine applause.
Yoram sometimes has the air of a man possessed when he’s performing. I was interested to find out what drives this dynamic performer. I wasn’t surprised he suggested we meet at the underground bar, E55. When I arrived, he was already comfortably ensconced in a background of drumbeats.
Where did you start with spoken word? I’ve been involved with public speaking all of my life. From an early age I was trained to deliver long speeches without notes and without learning content off-by-heart, but rather, to take a theme or topic and improvise on it, sort of like a jazz of public speaking. Throughout my twenties and early thirties, I practiced this kind of speaking extensively, but exclusively within the Jewish community, and almost always within the context of a religious setting. Basically, I was a preacher.
Regarding the Spoken Word form specifically, it began for me in about 2014. I had returned to Australia from Israel where I had been deeply involved in the Arab Spring movement in that country. I had been engaged in everything from street protests to electioneering and when I returned I felt compelled to write about my thoughts and experiences.
I found, however, that when I actually put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) I was writing in a totally new way for me, using loads of rhymes and masses of adjectives and weird assonances and alliterations. It seemed entirely gratuitous for prose. So I sat there looking at my screen and wondered; “Is this was what people call spoken word?” Shortly thereafter I came across Slamalamadingdong and so it began.
Why spoken word? You aren’t explicitly in it for the self-exploration… That’s definitely true, I am not in spoken word for the self exploration per se. I am really in it for the revolution. I see the spoken word stage as a place to talk about political ideas and use the voice to inform and effect political transformation.
Spoken Word serves
You wrote a poem about last year’s tragic Bourke Street incident, which was read at the Bourke Street Memorial Service in January by the Deputy Lord Mayor Arron Wood. What were you feeling, hearing your poem read by a public official at a major event?
I didn’t watch the poem read live at the venue or on TV. Let me explain why. One of the survivors of the Bourke Street attack is a friend of mine. As the first anniversary of the attack approached I found myself dwelling on those days. It was a difficult month. My father had died a few weeks before, in terrible circumstances. One day I was talking to my friend about what happened to my father, trying to make sense of it all. Then, a week later, I was visiting that friend in the Alfred Hospital, trying to make sense of such a senseless act.
So, a year on, I was thinking about January 2017 when the organisers of the Memorial emailed to ask whether I knew any poems that might be appropriate to read out. That email triggered me. I spent the next three days trying to write a poem about the events of January 2017. Before I sent the poem to the organisers, I told my friend what I’d done. I guess I was seeking his permission. He told me to send it, so I did. On the day of the Memorial I watched a bit on the TV, then turned it off. Once I heard from my friend that he liked the poem, I went back and watched the video. I thought Arron Wood did a great job with the reading. As for me, I was just relieved my friend thought it was OK.
Most of your poems are rather economical and look as though they are suspended and solitary on the blank page. Others are longer, less spaced out, and laid out in neat lines. What dictates the way a poem looks on the page?
I don’t know the answer to that question. The truth is that, for me, writing poetry is all about the process. I only write a poem when I feel something I don’t understand. Once I start writing, the poem shows me its form