Words Out Loud presents the 3-part Snapshot Series in conjunction with the Ballarat Foto Biennale. Wordsmiths are invited to join in this closing event, headlined by Jessica Wilkinson, by presenting a spoken word piece to 5 minutes on the theme of “Gateways to Elsewhere” (travel) in response to a photograph from their personal collection. Photos should be emailed prior or brought on the night on a USB stick. Details on the website. A non-photographic open mic will also be held, sign up on the night.
The Dan is Melbourne’s longest running weekly poetry venue is now in its 25th year. Every Saturday between 2pm-5pm, The Dan O’Connell Hotel becomes, The Home of Poets. The Dan is a community of poets, who support each other’s work, and endeavour to improve their poetry. Some of the poets that perform at The Dan have been writing poetry for decades, but many, are just starting their poetry journey.
The Dan is also, for people that love to see poets performing their poems. Our poetry audience can listen, and watch the open mic, with a drink and a meal in front of them, you will hear words from around the corner, and around the world. It’s free entry, and everyone is welcome on the open mic.
Give yourself the gift of a living performance, come and experience Poetry @ The Dan O’Connell. Put your name on the blackboard and be part of the open mic. Co-ordinated and MC’d by the Dan Poet’s Collective, Libby, Steve, Anne, Norman and Tim.
I’m sitting down for an interview with Waffle IronGirl, me on one end of old faithful (Facebook Messenger), her on the other. I’ve – somewhat unwisely – started off proceedings with a list of ‘suggested’ questions from my partner Lexi, all of them uniquely bizarre. For instance:
“How adaptable is the waffle iron as a printing technology?”
Waffle IronGirl shoots this one down:
Waffle Iron isn’t a printing technology.
It’s very adaptable personal weaponry though.
Things are off to a cracking start.
We’re here to talk about performing in Singapore (she was recently a support act in the Singapore poetry slam) and chapbooks (she’s running a workshop on chapbooks for the Melbourne Spoken Word and Poetry Festival). But I can’t resist. Where does the name “Waffle IronGirl” come from? ” I once wrote a flash fiction story about a vigilante called Waffle IronGirl,” she explains. “She used a waffle iron to dispatch with those who would violate her boundaries or the boundaries of those she cared about. When I started performing I needed a stage name, and it seemed like she could impart a courage and frankness that I felt I was lacking personally.”
I could pause here to note that Waffle IronGirl is one of the most original performers I’ve seen, and when she featured for us at the Dan, I felt like the top of my head had been taken off and I had a whole range of new weird and wonderful ideas poured in. Instead, I ask about the Singapore slam; what differences between Singaporean spoken word and Australian spoken word did she notice? “What struck me wasn’t so much the difference in style”, she says, “although that was certainly there. From a style perspective, there was certainly a more natural use of multiple languages and accents and dialects within the same
What does your name mean?
Thabani means “be happy”.
What makes you happy?
Connecting with people. I enjoy consuming art in all its forms. Art is one of the most connective things in which we can participate.
What made you leave Zimbabwe and come to Melbourne? Is Melbourne home now or is there more to your journey?
I left to study in the US and South Africa and finally Melbourne because I have family here. I just thought it would be beaches and people in swimsuits all day but had a rude awakening!
There is so much more to the journey. The project I’m working on now is about the sense of identity displacement. Even in Zimbabwe, I was not culturally accepted because I went to a lot of “white” schools. I’m still searching for a sense of belonging.
Do you know what this place looks like?
No, that’s why it’s so hard to find. But it’s not about the finding, it’s about the journey towards finding. In fact, I’m content to continuously search and not find it because it’s in the search that the most meaningful interactions are to be found.
You’re a Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellow. What that does mean to you?
It is a great opportunity. Connecting to other writers and becoming a part of the literary world – that is the most valuable aspect. The biggest growth for me is the discipline – working on one full body of work thematically linked, where the content needs coherent narrative. I’m usually very sporadic and volatile in writing, so it’s been an interesting challenge to get into the frame of mind where I’m still authentically expressing myself but it’s a controlled expressing. Not writing to the feeling, but bringing the feeling and writing to it.
You’re part of the Slamalamadingong National Poetry Slam Team. How do you feel and what are you expecting at the event?
A lot of poetry! It’s great to see people workin
Stephanie Dogfoot! We are very excited about your upcoming visit to the Melbourne Spoken Word and Poetry Festival 2019, especially in the festival opening night but also you’re feature at Mother Tongue. What else have you planned on your visit?
I am going to Brisbane to visit friends, and also to check out this Melbourne based sketch group I am obsessed with, called Aunty Donna. Of course I am also excited to check out MSWPF19. I’m also really looking forward to doing some hiking around Melbourne.
Before Melbourne, I’m going to Malaysia for a show there. I’m going to be bringing my new book there, they actually have a very big spoken word scene in KL, with a number of spoken word events. The scene is buzzing and exciting.
Can you tell me more about the spoken word scene in this region?
That’s something I am hoping to talk about a bit in my workshop. I’d like to draw on my own knowledge and experience, the history of spoken word in this region (including the English language slam poetry scene), and explore if there’s anything poets can draw from the history and stories of the region. I also plan to explore political spoken word, as it has emerged from the political context of this area. This includes drawing on the examples of poets I admire from this region.
There is a long history of spoken word poetry in Singapore. It started in various languages, especially Malay, and forms like sung poetry were practised extensively.
As for the history of English language spoken word, well I was on a panel a year ago where the panelists tried to trace the history of spoken word and open mics in Singapore from the sixties. There were open mics organised by university students, featuring visiting artists and professors. In the nineties, Borders (an international bookstore chain) came to Singapore and people used that space for open mics or spoken word poetry events. Legendary Singapo
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