Video Verse and Interview: Slamalamadingdong winner, Jessie Giles

Jessie Giles won last month’s Slamalamadingdong Open Slam. Below we present one of her moving pieces, ‘Eye Spy’ and an interview. Jessie will also be featuring at Passionate Tongues in the coming months.

Jessie was introduced to Melbourne’s spoken word community in 2012 through various slams and CPJ workshops, with the guidance of Jacky T and Luka Lesson. Jessie spent most of her teenage years in central Australia in indigenous communities and much of her spoken word draws upon that experience. Since then, she has performed with Stillwaters Storytelling Collective and gone back to Alice Springs with Jacky T and Abe Ape to perform as part of the Wide Open Spaces Festival.

Poet in Melbourne that was the biggest influence and mentor for you?

I don’t think there is a single poet who has been the biggest influence or mentor for me in Melbourne. Though I can comfortably say that Luka Lesson has been someone who has mentored and encouraged me to step up and perform and without him, I don’t think I’d be performing. Jacky T and Abe Ape, without a doubt, are my poetic brothers, they keep me sane and solid, ensuring I don’t make any concessions with my writing and maintaining my integrity. And Alia Gabres would have to be one of my Melbourne poetic heroes, who I look up to and who’s performance integrity I inspire to achieve. The Melbourne hip hop community has been a massive influence and crew of encouragers, the likes of Elf Transporter (he was the first person to see ‘Eye Spy’, the first piece I wrote as spoken word), Mista Monk, Zulu Flow and the Global Hip Hop Collective, the Allganiks Crew and Royalty Noise.

The most challenging thing about the spoken word scene…

When people come up to you after a gig and offer praise and thanks… I never ever know what to say… or I get a little creepy and just want to hug them all… hehe…

If you could perform a

The Making Of LOOP CITY

Benjamin Solah interviews poets Steve Smart and Amanda Anastasi, violinist/producer Sarah Curro & composer Yvette Audain

How did Loop City come about? How did you all meet each other and decide to work together?

Sarah: I have a solo amplified violin show called VOLUME where I commission emerging composers, costume designers, image makers and sketchers, weave it all together and present concerts in really funky modern venues. Amanda reviewed my 2012 Fringe show where I presented Ghostboy and Sir Lady Grantham show ‘We Love You’. I invited her to my big show at The Edge (formerly BMW Edge) and we immediately said to each other “LET’S DO SOMETHING TOGETHER!” Amanda told me about Steve and that they were already working on something. Loop City was born that night over a glass of bubbly, and here we are presenting it all over the place now.

Amanda: As far as my working with Steve, we first performed together when I asked him to deliver some of my one-line poems at the launch of 2012 and other poems. He then asked me to read a three song mash-up with him at Passionate Tongues, then we read together again at Westword, then the Voices In My Head CD launch…it came to the point where we just looked at each other and said “Alright, let’s just write something together!”

Although many have commented on how different Steve and I are as poets, we find our themes and ideas to be quite similar. The differences that there are (in our delivery styles & life experiences) have made for a collection of poems that balance/respond to each other remarkably well. In Loop City, I play the character of Melbourne itself and Steve the everyman/artist, so in the show our poetic voices are often battling each other and at other times in surprising unison. Loop City is a rollercoaster journey that every Melbournian can relate to.

Steve: Amanda and I walked around the city over many days from mid to

Meeting the Regulars: Silver Words

We know this is a Melbourne focussed site, but for something a bit different, Adonis Storr introduces us to Silver Words, a poetry gig further south, in Tasmania.

Words by Adonis Storr

“So I’ve been doing this stuff for twenty years now and no-one has ever heard it.”

A gasp ran through the crowd before an eager ring of applause resonated round the loft of 129 Elizabeth St, Hobart A.K.A. Frankie’s Empire at the Grand Opening of Silver Words – Spoken Word Open Mic Night.

I first began writing poetry when I was 12 years old. The first poem was about an idea I had of a ‘perfect world’ and was inspired by Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a dream” speech. 14 years have passed since the moment of that first poem. Now 26, I felt the time was right, or at least overdue, to step into the light, and reveal myself to the world: a poet.

But where to do this?

I really had no idea of the history of, or access to Spoken Word in Tasmania when I first sought out a place to perform.

Previous to my arrival on the shores of Tassie in 2010, there had been several poetry nights in Hobart: ‘Cast of thousands’ and its spin-off ‘Bracket and Jam’, as well as poetry readings at the Republic Bar & Cafe, North Hobart. The readings still continue at the Republic, 1st Sunday of every month, 3-5pm; I will be performing there Sunday 7th July.

However, while poetry readings and performance poetry are similar to spoken word, there are important differences. Spoken Word and SLAMs especially, seem to me to be far more influenced by a hip-hop culture that speaks of protest, passion and youth. This is why spoken word is so exciting and challenging, with performers mixing their voices with silence, all attention on them, little or no props to hide behind and their soul on display for all to see.

Creating, setting up and running an event on your own is very

Emerging poet Carrie Hagan to launch chapbook

“Carrie Hagan’s poetry is a new world woven with the golden threads of sincerity. Many writers write beautifully, but it takes a belly full of the world’s whispers – and the courage of a pebble that faces a mountain – to write as she does.” – Alia Gabres

Melbourne was first introduced to Carrie Hagan at Slamalamadingdong last year when her poem touching on her experiences with racism hit a nerve, brought many in the crowd to tears, and won her the slam. Now she is less than a month away from releasing her debut chapbook.

Though she says she’s often confused for being indigenous, she said “I’m actually Mozambican/Mauritian on my mum’s side, and Kiwi on my dad’s,” but that “The racism I’ve experienced throughout my life, and the history of my ancestors, has been something I’ve grappled with for many years…If I’m going to take issue with racism, whether on a personal level in my every day life, or in a public and creative way, I want it to come from a place of empowerment, not from a place of bitterness.”

Carrie has been writing novels and non-fiction for years, but Meena Shamaly introduced her to poetry through the 30 Day Poetry Challenge in 2012, which led her the slam win and a feature performance at Passionate Tongues. Since then, we have seen her in many slams, but it’s only just the beginning for this emerging poet, who lives in regional Victoria but travels into Melbourne as often as she can. She says she finds the travel quite draining but finds herself “getting energised by people who have the same passion for words and performance.”

Carrie’s planning to move to Melbourne in August so its safe to say we’ll be seeing more of her. Luka Lesson said, “I feel like Carrie Hagan has been a poet waiting to happen all of her life, and we are so lucky that it finally has… great truth, fearlessness and skill