Words by Benjamin Solah
Saturday night was the relaunch of monthly left-wing spoken word night, Keep Left, after ending last year. Taking it over from Paulie, I moved it to the left-wing arts space, Under the Hammer and after a lead-up of a few months. With the help of leftie poets Amanda Anastasi and Santo Cazzati, I relaunched it on the weekend with success, but of course, I might be biased.
This is the first time I’ve started a monthly gig and my gratitude goes out to all those in the scene that organise regular gigs, some even weekly and fortnightly. I was worried no one would even turn up but there was over 40 people there, which filled up most of the venue and allowed me as an organiser committed to paying our feature poets, this time Maxine Clarke, to pay her a decent amount for her hard work. With a quality open mic, a good mix of regular open mic participants and people I haven’t seen before, plus a good proportion of people there just to listen, there’s reasons to be positive about the start of this venture.
There are a bunch of great new gigs attracting new crowds at the moment, complementing the staple events like Passionate Tongues and the Dan. House of Bricks, ContraVerse, Slamalamadingdong and now Keep Left attract people from parts of Melbourne that don’t usually come across other events. There’s real potential to bring those people into the wider scene and to help grow our community.
Keep Left is there to offer a space that encourages left-wing political poetry and make links with the left, activists, progressive and social justice minded people. We can show them the power of spoken word to articulate those ideas, inspire and entertain those people in new ways, and we hope that the open mic becomes a poetic reflection of the world that’s going on, out on streets. As inspiring movements rise up and the horrors of this world shock and disturb us, poets, even those who don’t usually write political poetry, will hopefully come to Keep Left to express our feelings about these things in poetry.
Our next feature on July 27, is Ali Alizadeh, author of the collection Ashes in the Air and it will be MC’d by Amanda Anastasi.
Keep Left featuring Ali Alizadeh
Saturday, July 27 @ 8pm / Under the Hammer Arts Hub, 158 Sydney Road, Coburg / $5 / Open Mic