The Audience Deserves More From You

Words by Fleassy Malay

There is a bizare phenomenon I see in the Spoken Word scene. I saw it in the Slams of the UK, the high fire nights of Vancouver and the diverse and rolling scene of Melbourne. I saw it every month for two years at Mother Tongue. Every time I see it, it feels like my heart is breaking just a little bit.

The phenomenon is this. To set the scene: A poet gets on stage, silent… walks to the microphone, looks at the audience. The tension is high. They take a deep breath and open their mouth. Out pours a passion driven, soul breaking, cry to the night. A war cry. A love cry. A sex cry. They even arch their necks, their backs, fists pumping in the air! They are speaking for the unspoken voices, they are freeing women from slavery, freeing hearts from chains, freeing people from labels and judgement. The voice of the people!

They finish.

The audience goes wild.. I mean WILD! They holla and cheer. Whistles, tears and clapping!.

And then…it happens… this heart breaking phenomenon.

The poet curls inwards, the resonating sounds of the applause crumbling their height like a cheap fascade and their shoulders curve forwards. Their head sinks down. They blush. They even TURN AWAY from the audience.

Once the audience stops applauding the poets clears their throat, a meek voice of “Umm” and “Err” dribbles out of this suddenly coy and daunted creature as they go on to thank the audience and introduce their next piece with an air of “it’s new so please… I’m sorry I’ve not learnt it… it’s been a while… I’ve had a long day…”

I sit there in the audience, the bubbling potency of what was before me only a few minutes earlier fizzles out into a bizare sense of “…meh” or something.
I want to take this person by the shoulders and shake them screaming “YOU ARE WORTH MORE THAN TH