Hunch (not his real name) came barn storming onto the open mics a year or two ago, and in that time has won the Battle Royalle at Wham Bam Thank You Slam last year, opened for OVEOUS and just last month, won Slamalamadingdong. We had a chat to this fast-talking unique voice in Melbourne.

Can you think of a moment, like from your childhood, that was probably a dead giveaway you’d become a poet?

Well, my angle into this scene stemmed from writing down my dreams obsessively for years. I think dreams by their nature are poetic, so perhaps it was when I first decided to write down my dreams. More broadly, if you mean; When did I realise I had mental issues, was scared of the world, didn’t fit in, was susceptible to substance abuse and enjoyed my own company too much? Then that was much earlier.

How’d you discover spoken word?

I think the first time I recognised that spoken word was a ‘thing’ was when I heard Henry Rollins doing it back when I was in high school. I also liked Bill Hicks’ stuff back then too. Interestingly enough, neither were/are considered to be outright ‘spoken word’ artists, as it’s a side thing for Henry to his music and Bill was, by and large, classified as a comedian… With hindsight, these two were obviously very influential for me because I do tend to act like a rock star when I get a mic in my hand and I’m always drawn to the humorous side of things when I write!

If you only had one poetry book to take with you in the bunker when the end of the world comes, what would it be?

Clearly that would be my own poetry book! I could live without reading books but I don’t think I could last without being able to record my own thoughts and poems… Is that, like, totally self involved of me?

When you write a brand new poem that you just have to read, which open mic do you first think to take it to?

The default scenario in my mind when I’m practicing a new piece is that I’m at Bar Oussou. Pretty much anything goes there and there’s no strict time limit; a great place to test out ‘new shit’… I must confess, though, it’s also been Paper Waves a bit lately…

But seriously, I’m an attention whore and very impatient, so whatever the first gig is that I can get to will do.

Which legend of the Melbourne poetry scene do you wanna become when you grow up?

Wow, that’s a loaded question! Do I have to be any of the ones that already exist!? Can’t I just be that crazy old poetry dude that everyone loves; he used to talk so fast and he’s charmed everyone with his witty and insightful pieces about the human condition, so clever with words, he is!

What’s one spoken word artist or performing poet you wish more people knew about? Do you have a favourite poem or video of them?

You mean other than me, right?!… Yes, of course, well…there’s too many people I could mention here, so perhaps I’ll say, Ezra Morgan, as I don’t think he’s really ever received the recognition he deserves as a spoken word artist. His work is witty, sensitive, deep and he’s such a nice young fellow to boot!

[Editors note: More people need to know about him so much that there aren’t videos of him online. So go hunt for him on open mics!]

What are you working on now?

Right now I’m practicing up a piece I just finished about the trials and tribulations of being a masochist. If you drop by Bar Oussou on Monday night there’s a very high chance you’ll see me bust it out for the first time…I guess I’m gonna have to start thinking about what to say at the Luka Lesson gig on the 26th too!

When you’re not performing poetry, what else are you up to?

I’m also an illustrator, so I’m experimenting with ways to combine my words with my images in a marketable way. I’m mad into electronic music too, so I’d love to bring that into the mix at some point as well.

You can catch Hunch opening for Luka Lesson on March 26 at Howler, and as the sacrificial poet at Slamalamadingdong on March 30.

[Photo by [KAYO] Photography]

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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