Queensland Poetry Festival runs the annual Queensland Poetry Awards. Their Arts Queensland XYZ Prize for Innovation in Spoken Word is Australia’s only arts award that recognises the growing field of spoken word, and is named after the former 2010 Arts Queensland Poet in Residence, Emily XYZ, who left a deep impression on many of today’s Queensland spoken word artists. Open to all Australian residents, this award comes with total prize money of $1000 with winning entries also to be published online and CD by Melbourne Spoken Word (MSW).

2017 Selection panel: Benjamin Solah (MSW) + the 2017 Arts Queensland Poet in Residence Courtney Sina Meredith

Judges Comments: I really enjoyed listening to all the tracks, I tried them out in different settings – through a PA / on my headphones/ with the dog/ with friends – trying to get more of a panoramic feel for it.

I was thinking about innovation in a variety of ways: innovating from new perspectives, innovative content, and of course production value. Careful to place especial care and thought when dealing with the most tender of voices – that is – voices standing in their own light – voices coming from a space that many of us can count on our hands just how many times we’ve had such insight into that particular way of be-ing and see-ing. The journey for that voice is generations in the making.

The eventual shortlist and the top 3 selections by myself and co-judge Benjamin Solah, demonstrated the strata of innovation in contemporary Australian spoken word and the promise of development and exploration within and beyond the form.

Winning & Shortlisted poems

Winner
Monday June 27 – Quinn Eades

Highest Placed Queensland Entry
Fight with my soul – Anisa Nandaula

Highly Commended
25 words or less – Brendan Bonsack

This street was once a river – Sean M Whelan

Arguing with gravity – Maddie Godfrey

Photo by Darlia Argyris

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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