Last Monday, the invasion from Brisbane was completed. In the back of a bar on High Street, Melbourne poets gathered for the Melbourne launch of famed Brisbane slam, Ruckus Slam, headed by the dynamic and dinosaur loving host Scott Wings.

It was pretty clear from the start that Ruckus is no ordinary slam. Perhaps it’s taken on the joking spirit of Marc Smith’s original idea, with a score out of five instead of ten, and instead of decimal points, the scores are whole numbers signified by dinosaur cards, with the famed ‘Jurassic Prose’ card signifying five. The judges were given shower caps to wear and at the halfway point, five members of the audience, including one of the judges, were challenged to the audience challenge, constructing a little dinosaur figurine.

Both hosts, Scott Wings and Meg, who came down from Brisbane for the launch, really set the tone of the night, from Meg scowling at those clicking their fingers throughout the night, which made people revolt by clicking their fingers more, to both of them beatboxing for a poet whilst they performed for the first time. The audience, including one heckler sitting on the couch near the front of the stage, were responsive and loud.

The poetry of course, the important part, was on point. Ten slammers were randomly drawn so you didn’t know when you were going to be called up. There was a healthy mix between serious and funny, memorised and off the page. Following the first one though, after slammers see what the mood is like, it’ll be interesting to see if that affects what pieces poets might bring to the slam next time round.

In the spirit of the night, the slam ended with Roshelle Fong performing a weird and wonderful sound piece using only a few words repeated, scoring all ‘Jurassic Prose’ cards, and the audience all standing up singing to the tune of the Jurassic Park theme, “Holy shit, holy fucking shit, fucking dinosaurs, it’s a five.” Before launching into the final feature act of the night and forgetting to announce the obvious winner at the end.

The features of the night signal Ruckus’ intention to present the audience with some out of the box feature acts. Bravo Child, performance artist, freestyler and spoken word artist, took the audience through a bit of a journey with wordplay and philosophy, whilst Hot Brown Honey, mid-Comedy Festival season, got the audience up dancing at the end (how many poetry gigs can say that?) with hilarious and talented musical numbers including a piece that ended with heavy metal headbanging screaming ‘Don’t touch my hair’ whilst wearing a massive afro wig.

Ruckus Slam is certainly not your regular poetry gig, showing us that sometimes they do it a little different up in Brisbane and adds a real unique highlight to the poetry calendar each month.

The next Ruckus Slam is on Monday, May 30 from 8pm at Bar 303, 303 High Street, Northcote.

Photo by Will Beale

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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