8 ways to get more involved with spoken word in 2017

We promise we’re not trying to become BuzzFeed but we always get asked how to get more involved with spoken word in general or Melbourne Spoken Word the organization, whether you wanna be up on stage or helping out in the background so we thought we’d start the year but filling you in on a bunch of ways to engage and get more involved.

  1. Keep making your impression on the open mic
  2. Most gigs have open mics and they’re there for a reason. Use them to practice, to introduce yourself, to try something out, to show off new poems, and to get noticed by gig conveners. We often get asked how they can perform at one of our gigs, get more features at regular gigs or get on our YouTube channel. Our advice is usually to not ask but to get yourself in a position to be asked. Show on the open mic that you’re good, you’ve got enough work to fill a 15-minute set and you’re active and available. Open mic and open mic often at different venues. We’re taking notice, and gig conveners are too.

    Melbourne Spoken Word especially wants to include active and prominent talent from around Melbourne so we need to see you perform around the place to want to ask you, whatever style of spoken word or poetry you’re into, whether you’re young or old, emerging or experienced, whatever background you’re from.

  3. Stick your hand up to write for us
  4. The Words section of the website is there for a multitude of voices to discuss our art form. We’re looking for people who are willing to write reviews, interview poets and maybe offer thoughts on spoken word, in general, such as opinion pieces and even little writing advice columns. We’re passionate about encouraging more critical discussion about spoken word in 2017, something you’ll hear more about soon. In the meantime, we have a form for those who want to stick their hand up to write for us. If you have something specific in mind, you can pitch to us via Submittable.

  5. Help us spread the spoken word
  6. Melbourne Spoken Word needs help, more hands and feet to let the city know it’s full of spoken word. You can volunteer for our street team to go out and stick up posters, hand out leaflets and reach out to people who’ve never heard of the spoken word scene before. We also occasionally need (sometimes paid) volunteers to help out at events to sit behind a merch desk or on the door, maybe operate a camera or help with sound, sometimes we do stalls or have booths at festivals. Stick your hand up.

  7. Bring your new poetry to our weekly workshop
  8. Bring a piece you’re working on for feedback at our free weekly workshop on Sunday evenings at Siteworks in Brunswick. Starting from January 22, our We Work This Shop is a great place to share work with peers and hone your writing from first draft to polished spoken word. Keep an eye on the events page for the next workshops.

  9. Join the conversation in our online forum
  10. Got a question about the scene? Want feedback on a piece or got an opinion on something? Our discussion forum is open for people to discuss our artform, ask questions, share poems and resources. We want to get people talking below the surface level about spoken word.

  11. If you run a gig, get in touch with us
  12. We list and promote any poetry or spoken word gig in Melbourne, whether it’s an open mic, special spoken word shows, or workshops, launches and regular gigs. If you already run a gig, make sure you let us know well in advance when it’s on to help us spread the word. If you’re thinking of running a gig, speak to us, we can assist with avoiding clashes and any issues you might come across, as well as letting the community know its on.

  13. Send us your books or spoken word albums
  14. If you’ve published a chapbook, a collection of poetry or a spoken word album and you’re a regular participant in the spoken word scene, we can sell your book on our online store, plus send us an extra copy for review. Email us first and we can chat with you about what’s involved.

  15. Pledge to our Patreon campaign
  16. We rely on donations, especially monthly pledges via Patreon to cover our costs, to help make a living from this to keep doing what I do, and to start more projects. Pledging the cost of one or two coffees a month goes a long way and gets you discounts on gigs, workshops, and subscriptions to Audacious.

[Photo by Brendan Bonsack]

Annie Solah