Tuesday, February 28 @ 6:00pm
33 Saxon Street,
$20 (or $15 for Patreon Patrons: https://www.patreon.com/melbspokenword)
Has an Open Mic?
Book tickets @ https://www.trybooking.com/OOQL
As part of our Spoken Word Night School series presented by Melbourne Spoken Word.
In February, we bring you Komninos Zervos, where he will take participants through a 3-hour writing-based workshop, getting you back to basics, letting the words stand on their own and using language economically. He will also guide you in how this may be used to teach poetry in schools and community groups, as he did for ten years before teaching poetry at uni.
Komninos Zervos was born in 1950 in Melbourne. He has been writing poetry on a professional basis since 1985, taking his poetry to schools, community groups, hotels, music venues, prisons, coffee lounges, universities, radio, television, and now the internet. (http://www.komninos.com.au) He has published two collections of poetry with the University of Queensland Press (Komninos, 1991, and Komninos by the Kupful, 1995); a collection of poetry for children illustrated by Peter Viska and published by Oxford University Press (The Baby Rap and Other Poems, 1992); and a hardcover illustrated children’s picture book published by Harper Collins in 1991. In 1992 he received the Australian Human Rights Award for literature, and in 1993 he was awarded the Australia Council’s Ros Bower Award for outstanding achievement in community arts. In 1995 he completed a Masters of Arts in Creative Writing at the University of Queensland, and authored a cd-rom of cyberpoetry for his dissertation. In 1997 he travelled to London to be writer in residence at Artec, a multimedia training and resource centre in Islington, where he authored a cd-rom, Cyberpoetry Underground. He also convened the Cyber Studies major at the School of Arts, Griffith University, Gold Coast campus, from 1999 to 2007. Komninos’s poetry is taught in schools and is on the syllabus for year 12 HSC Standard English in NSW.
Slamalamadingdong is Melbourne’s premiere poetry slam, being the only slam in Australia currently PSI-certified, with three rounds and high-calibre nationally and internationally recognised feature artists that push the boundaries of spoken word. Slama runs on the last Thursday of every month, with slammers competing for cash, a published video of their work, performance opportunities and the chance to represent Slama at the National Poetry Slam in the United States each year.
Amanda Anastasi speaks to Sapologie curator, Green Room Award winner, and Slamalamadingdong Grand Slam Champion, wāni.
How and where did you first discover spoken word?
Through a collective I found when I first arrived in Melbourne. It was the first space I’d ever felt truly free to be able to explore forms that weren’t always so readily available to me.
One of the most interesting and moving spoken word pieces I have heard recently is your poem ‘Silence’. In it, you demonstrate the gaps in our speech if we removed the lies and half truths from our daily narrative. Why do you think it is so hard for us to speak plainly and truthfully?
I think perhaps it’s because of the way we’ve been socialised and conditioned to exist. It seems as if we have to be and exist in a particular way that perhaps is different to who we feel we actually are, and vulnerability as well as honesty is exposing and that’s risky, so we tend to hide behind masks we create. Perhaps.
I have often considered spoken word and poetry to be the most direct form of artistic expression. Is this part of its appeal for you?
Yes, most definitely. It tends to cut through the b.s, I feel. It allows both the giver and the listener to penetrate parts of each other that aren’t often received in the same way through other forms – not even conversations – because of the assumptions that it often carries with it at times.
Your performances are paced and phrased very deliberately through your clever use of pauses, silences, and acceleration. What are the things you have learned so far about performing poetry that you would like to share?
That there are no rules to it except the ones you make for yourself. For me, it allows me to enter a space where I can better understand myself and the world around me, in a way that opens me up to share it with those willing to hear me. It also allows me to explore new ways in which to deliver things t
The elegant Alan Pentland meets me at the Melbourne Bar, “Workshop”, to talk about the MSW poetry prize, comedy and the meaning of spoken word. Right after this interview, he retreated to his country estate to fix up a problem with a water tank.
Hi Alan. Congratulations on winning the 2017 MSW Poetry Prize! That was a great performance. Funny story about that. I was surprised to have walked away with the prize, there were so many amazing performances! I felt terrific for about a week, then I got the feeling, “What do I do now?” This felt like a watershed moment, a huge step. I thought the next step must be much bigger and I had no idea what it would be. There was an occasion I needed to rise to, but the writing actually became hard and I was quite depressed for a month. It’s funny because it’s ironic.
But I’ve started writing and performing again, I’ve got targets to aim for. I know what I’m going to do: use the prize as a leverage to contribute to the community, to others but also to myself. I think there are new ways to do things and I’d like to explore that.
I’ve been part of the poetry scene for about two years. Much as I appreciate the support mechanisms, I want to reach the people who don’t go to the poetry gigs. Ultimately you want to reach out to an audience that isn’t poets. There seems to be no prototype to achieve this, right now I’m going to non-poetry gigs and open mics — like music gigs. And I’ve been getting an encouraging response.
How did you get your start in poetry? I won an award for poetry from school. My friend and I used to self-publish a poetry newsletter in the days when you had to “roneo” them, you had to type the poems up on a stencil then run it through a machine to make copies. All sorts of people would contribute, people you wouldn’t imagine writing poetry. But then I studied architecture at uni and got into comedy, which is the kind of thing that seduces you away fr