Alia Gabres is a Melbourne based spoken word artist who has recently finished a tour alongside Luka Lesson and Joel McKerrow. Her spoken word is known for highlighting issues and voices that are often marginalised.
Video produced by Shuttermain.
Review by Matthew Richardson.
When you think of spoken word in Melbourne one name must surely dance through your mind: Luka Lesson.
Lesson is the current National Slam Champion and his true talent shines through in this collection of poems and hip hop songs. He shows the articulation and literary prowess that claimed him the national title was no fluke. This is a long awaited album for Melbourne spoken word enthusiasts and it does not disappoint.
From track one Lesson draws you in in to his world of imagination and inspiration. ‘May your pen grace the page’ is the perfect opening track for the album. For those who have seen Lesson perform you have no doubt heard this piece before. The way Lesson describes the relationship between himself and his pen towards the end of the poem is nothing short of incredible. He shows the true passion and power that can come from this pairing of poet and pen. It is a perfect opener to the album.
He continues the album with a switch between spoken word and hip hop but his true love for hip hop shows through in the spoken word pieces as well. The first hip hop track, ‘Desire’ featuring Screamy is nothing short of spectacular as well. The music and lyrics meld perfectly together to create a song that you will not soon forget.
The third track on the album is the title track, ‘Please Resist Me.’ I may be a little bit biased when it comes to this track because this is by far my favourite slam piece of Lesson’s. The line, “Your resistance brings our evolution,” sums up a lot of how Luka writes and what he hopes to achieve through his poems. He really shows his skills in this piece as well. His speed and annunciation are flawless.
The fourth track on the album is, ‘Killing Time’ featuring Candice Monique. For me this track starts a little bit slow and doesn’t really get me hooked until the second time you hear Candice come in with her
Op-Ed by Benjamin Solah
Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye (not related) probably realised a few dreams last week. Two nights in a row, these YouTube superstars packed out Melbourne venues and brought spoken word to new audiences. It was seriously exciting being in the crowd and seeing new faces, and being impressed by their engaging performances.
And it was fitting to have them perform at what are fast becoming the two premiere spoken word events in Melbourne, Slamalamadingdong (run by Michelle Dabrowski) and Sweetalkers (run by Randall Stephens).
Poets in Melbourne aren’t much used to huge crowds. We occasionally get them, like with Luka, Alia and Joel’s Please Resist Me tour. So when we do, we’re surprised and I probably wasn’t the only one that spent a decent amount of time staring at the crowd and wondering who these people are or where they’ve come from.
The truth is, both of them basically built their profile through word of mouth and YouTube videos. Spoken word isn’t on the TV, the radio or most mainstream media, but spoken word, particularly from the US, collects millions of views on YouTube. It points to how important it is to get our own work up online and to try and reach new audiences.
But it also points to one reason why I set up Melbourne Spoken Word.com in the first place. With new faces being introduced to live poetry in Melbourne, there’s a whole audience there to bring them along to more. There’s multiple gigs a week including open mics and slams. Usually the MC of a gig will plug their Facebook group or perhaps a website, but often pointing to some of these online locations can be tricky or the names or addresses hard to remember. Often Facebook group addresses are numbers.
Which is why I want to encourage MCs gig organisers, slam masters, and other poets to point audiences to MelbourneSpokenWord.com at their gigs. If we can establish one location with an easy to remember address that has all of t
‘Unless You’re Free’ by Benjamin Solah and inspired by Mario Savio. Performed as the co-host of the Percy Shelley Poetry Slam on March 13, 2012 at Dexter Bar/Cafe, Clifton Hill.
The editor of Melbourne Spoken Word, Benjamin Solah has taken the liberty to post a video of his own as the second ‘Video Verse’ entry to the website. But if you are a spoken word artist in Melbourne, or are performing in Melbourne and would like to feature your video on the website, please email [email protected] with a YouTube or Vimeo link. We prefer Melbourne artists and videos that are done with some degree of professionalism of live performances or studio videos.
Review by Amanda Anastasi
In a Melbourne spoken word scene full of wits, comics and venting raging voices, Joel McKerrow is quite simply a shining light. Part orator, part story-teller; part humanitarian but always a poet, McKerrow has produced something special with One Foot In The Clay.
One perfect, memorable image is worth writing a whole book for, and the metaphor of ‘the cracked table’ in McKerrow’s opening track Table is certainly one of these. Here he begins with his earliest childhood memories and an experience we can all deeply relate to: our parents being as gods to our younger selves, and their inevitable fall in our perception.
In Confession Part 1 (there are three parts), he opens with I am a white man and I am a Christian. In these pieces, McKerrow allows himself the role of spokesperson, apologizing for the wrongs done by others of his kind. My first thought was that perhaps he takes too much upon himself! However, when the apology felt as though it were directed to my kind in Confessions Part 3, when he apologizes to women on behalf of all men, I better understood his intent – consider all the apologies that should be made and are not. It is clear that this is a man with a deep awareness of the dysfunction and suffering around him, and his contribution to both the problem and the solution.
By the second track, we also know that this is a poet whose Christianity is a strong part of his identity. It would be remiss of me to mention that this reviewer embraces the idea of man inventing God, rather than the other way around. Therefore I confess my initial thought was please let this not be a Christian album! The more I listened, the more I realized that McKerrow rises far above any of the labels he has placed upon himself. In fact, it seems that he places them for the purpose of slowly dismantling them. All misgivings in this regard are dispelled, ironically, in the third track entitled God. God, rid me o
Sarah Kay, Phil Kaye, Skye Loneragan, Sister Zai and MC’d by Steve Smart Thursday, March 22 @ 7.30pm / Bar Open, 317 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy / Free
Sweetalkers, Melbourne’s premiere spoken word event, moves to Thursdays and Bar Open for March, featuring another stellar line-up including international guests from the US, Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye. And it’s free! This is going to be a special night for Melbourne spoken word and is not to be missed.