Friday, May 8 @ 7:30pm
Melbourne Physical & Natural Studio
Fitzroy VIC AU
Has an Open Mic?
Mother Tongue is a monthly intimate and gentle evening of Passionate, Powerful, Vulnerable and Honest womens spoken word. From rap to storytelling, poetry to monologues this night embodies every genre of “Spoken Word” and attempts to represent every aspect of “woman” from student to housewife, transgender to straight CIS, nice girl to erotic demoness and everything in between. It is a mixed gender audience with a cosy, living room atmosphere, that gives a space for 8 open mic slots and two feature artist to inspire and be inspired, to share in a safe place, to push boundaries and to have boundaries pushed…. and to top it all off there is vegan treats and chai too.
Zainab Zahra Syed
Zainab Zahra Syed is a Pakistani activist and spoken word poet. She graduated from Brown University in 2014 with a degree in Political Science. Zainab won the College Unions Poetry Slam at Brown University in 2012 and has performed at venues in the US, Pakistan and Australia and will be going on a European Tour in June. She has worked as a poetry workshop facilitator at the women’s prisons in Rhode Island and at schools in Lahore and Islamabad teaching storytelling as healing. Her scholarship and poetry focuses on the Middle East and South Asia, with specific attention paid to humanized politics. Her first full length manuscript weaves the history of the Pakistani Partition with personal narrative in an attempt to reconcile memory and the act of remembering.
Lana Woolf is a writer, spoken word artist, radio producer and activist among many other things. She has won the annual Percy Shelly Poetry Slam two years running (2012/2013), has placed in both storytelling and performance poetry at the Sydney Rd Writers Festival (2013), has featured at Keep Left (2012), JOY 94.9 International Lesbian Day Show (2012 & 2014), House of Bricks (2013), Laughs for Diversity (2014), The annual Percy Shelly Poetry Slam (2014) JOY 94.9, International Women’s Day Event (2014) University of Melbourne, Judy Punch magazine launch (2014), Out In The Open (2014). Lana’s collective work is self reflective and often examines the experiences of racism, sexism and homophobia that exist in the world in which we live.
Text and language at its most dynamic; including spoken word, sound poems, and improvised performance. This exciting event explores the potential of text—its musicality and its dissonance, its light and dark, its ability to exact meaning and to defy it. This event builds on the works of Collective Effort Press, Melbourne-based champions of new writing in non-traditional forms and formats.
Also featuring David Wells and Neil Thomas performing Late Night and Horace.
Free event. Light refreshments provided.
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