Review by Benjamin Solah
Last night, Melbourne got lucky – at least if you’re a fan of spoken word or poetry. It’s very rare we get to see the slam poet heroes we’ve come to love on YouTube and from afar. Last time we saw them, it was Ken Arkind with a whole range of others about two years ago, and Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye last year.
Last night, we got to see Anis Mojgani thanks to Bo Svoronos, Alia Gabres and Global Poetics, supported by the Emerging Writers’ Festival. And he performed in front of a sold out crowd at the Footscray Community Arts Centre hosted by Ken Arkind, supported by Carrie Rudzinski and a whole bunch of local poets. It was an impressive and ambitious line-up. If One Night Stanza last night was a restaurant, it would be an upmarket version of Sizzler’s, an all-you-can eat buffet with so many dishes on offer, you only got to taste a bit of each, even though you could have gorged on each one alone. And the metaphors were much better than that one. It included Randall Stephens and Steve Smart, Michelle Dabrowski, Grace Vanilau and Ajak Kwai, Alia Gabres, the return of Luka Lesson from Greece. As well as May’s Slamalamadingdong Nerd Slam winner, Freya Dougan-Whaite who won the chance to perform in the line-up, and for me, was one of the stand out performances alongside more experienced performers.
It could be argued that the night was bound to extend far into the night, and Anis Mojgani did go for an hour and a half but the audience soaked it all up and the performers had their attention the whole time. Mojgani mixed his brilliant imagery in his poetry with witty insights and anecdotes both in the poems and in the banter in between. But if there could be one criticism of his work, some of the pieces often blended into each other, a collection of quite vivid and imaginative images but sometimes I felt lost as to the central theme of each individual piece, and often that’s a criticism I personally have of some slam poetry. Perhaps this is why I am such a fan of Arkind’s work as each piece, to me, feels unique and distinct from each other.
The whole show was a real highlight and we are very lucky when we get the chance to have these poets perform for us. The space was great and there was a real inspired atmosphere amongst the audience and the poets who were there just to watch, and hopefully the night fostered an appetite for more poetic events in the section of the crowd who usually do not come to poetry events, and leaves them wanting more.
If you’re looking for more, Ken Arkind and Carrie Rudzinski will be performing tonight in a free show at the Port Phillip Gilgamesh Readings from 7pm, Claypots Evening Star, Sth. Melbourne Market, Corner Cecil & York Streets, South Melbourne.