How do you sum up 2016? It’s been a big year for us and for me personally, the first year where I’ve basically run Melbourne Spoken Word almost full-time, and in some vain utopian dream, tried to even earn a living off of it, albeit with the safety net of an incredibly supportive partner with one of those real jobs.
We can say we’ve done a lot, and it might sound like bragging, and maybe we need to slow down but we’ve been riding this train all year and it just didn’t stop.
We’ve hosted international poets, as a platform for local Melbourne poets to perform alongside them and raise the profile of spoken word in general in Melbourne. We’ve hosted weird and special events from performing in wrestling rings, performing at White Night, on trams, to the Melbourne Spoken Word Prize. We’ve hosted workshops as well as our special free We Work This Shop. We even hosted our first Australian Poetry Slam Heat in 2016.
In general, our aim for this year has been to create platforms for raising the profile of spoken word, an art form with no real institutional backing, a bit unknown, on the fringes of festivals and the literary sphere. We’ve tried to support the existing and growing scene. Sometimes it felt like we were pushing uphill, spending a lot of time hustling and urging people to buy tickets or support a particular project, which can often feel icky, but often necessary. Other times we’ve been blown away by something taking off, from hundreds waiting outside to get in to see the APS Heat, the crowd at White Night, but some of those intimate moments, the small workshop groups where someone got to share for the first time or just find a space where they could express themselves.
You could sum up 2016 by looking at the numbers. They’re a bit dry but they say a bit. We’ve listed on our website more than 400 poetry gigs in 2016, including 37 regular gigs that happen quarterly
Tim Evans performing ‘Dues Xmaschina’ at Slamalamadingdong in June, 2016.
Tim Evans is recovering from being English and has been performing his poems at open mics and slams around Melbourne for the last two years, including a feature spot at The Dan O’Connell and occasional MC duties at Girls On Key. His hobbies are words, anxiety and depression, often all at the same time. Steve Smart, President of Melbourne Poets Union and co-convener for The Dan said ‘I’ve become convinced that there is little he can’t do with a pen and a microphone.’ But so far Tim has mainly used them for writing and talking into respectively.
Cyprus, that island in the eastern Mediterranean about which most of us know nothing. No time or space for a history lesson now. It’s complicated and stretches back several millennia with multiple invasions, occupations and division, the latest being between the Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots after the British cleared out in the mid-C20th.
Yet many of us do know something of Aphrodite and Adonis and Pygmalion from ancient Greek mythology, and they are all purported to have been born on Cyprus.
Koraly Dimitriadis is a Melbourne-based performer and writer from the Greek-Cypriot immigrant community who has written and devised a challenging and often confronting show based on the experiences and predicaments of her own life so far.
She is an artist and a woman who has been driven to break out of the ‘good Greek girl’ stereotype of being a homebound wife and mother. It is this painful, singular and turbulent journey to express her real life passions, and to establish her creative credentials, that forms the basis of this self-revelatory production.
Koraly Dimitriadis offers up her all, her heart, mind, body, soul, faith and family history during an 80-minute procession of scenes that expose the raw reality of opting to make a new life for oneself. This is a moving and particularly personal performance which exerts a demand for empathetic attention to be shared between the performer and the audience.
This show succeeds because it doesn’t set out to answer the wider question that it poses to which we can all relate, put simply ‘What is my life all about?” How often does any of us get to really ask such a question of ourselves?
Koraly Dimitriadis deftly switches scenes that portray the overlapping and often clashing roles in her life as a daughter, grand-daughter, mother, divorcee, lover, writer and, above all, as a woman determined to rise above the confines of her background. In each of
The winner of The 2016 Melbourne Spoken Word Prize, Kylie Supski performing ‘Graffiti Walls’ at 75 on Reid, North Fitzroy on December 2, 2016.
Kylie Supski is a Polish-Australian poet and spoken word performer. Kylie’s inspiration comes from her personal experiences, all aspects of her life, and the people she is surrounded by. Kylie is greatly concerned with using art as a method of speaking out about global economic and political inequality. She encourages her audiences towards critical thinking, and to consider the weight of their own powers as citizens with specific regard to the inhumane policies backed by the Australian government controlled by less than ‘The 1%’. Kylie however, enjoys a diverse repertoire and is passionate about exploring the beauty of being alive.
Sharifa Tartoussi, winner of Slamalamadingdong for November, performing ‘Ya Jabal (Mountains)’ at Slamalamadingdong, November 24, 2016.
Slamalamadingdong happens on the last Thursday of every month at 24 Moons, Northcote. See melbournespokenword.com/events for upcoming events.
A closet poet freshly un-closeted, Sharifa utilises both page and stage to navigate through her Arab roots and her pseudo-western upbringing, discussing everything from the loss of identity and homeland to the humanness we all observe as we travel through life. A fire at heart, tamed only by the oxygen that fuels it, she wavers between waning embers and raging inferno depending on the day and the issue. Most days, she can be found trying to get to the root of all things wacky and wonderful and sometimes, she writes things.