In its 4th year, the Arts Queensland XYZ Prize for Innovation in Spoken Word is Australia’s only national arts award that recognises the growing field of spoken word and is named after the former 2010 Arts Queensland Poet in Residence, Emily XYZ, who left a deep impression on many of today’s Queensland spoken word artists. It is open to applicants Australia-wide.

The winner receives $1,000 and publication with Melbourne Spoken Word.

Previous winners include Quinn Eades, Benjamin Wild, and Manna Marvel.

The 2018 Selection Panel was Daisy Lavea-Timo, Benjamin Solah.

Winner: Anisa Nandaula / I hate you

Anisa Nandaula is the 2016 Queensland poetry slam champion, the runner up Australian poetry slam champion and nationally renowned poet. This published poet has performed her work at festivals around the country such as the Queensland poetry festival, Townsville Multicultural festival, Women of the world festival and African Australian film festival. Her unique and captivating exploration of identity and politics has been showcased at the Sydney Opera house, Slama Lama ding dong in Melbourne and Adelaide writers center. Her combination performance, engaging use of language and profound ideas can capture the heart of any audience. She is a published author releasing her debut collection titled Melanin Garden.

Highly Commended: Joel McKerrow / The Brave Ones

Joel McKerrow is an award winning writer, speaker, educator, community arts worker and one of Australia’s most successful internationally touring performance poets having performed for hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world since 2010. Based out of Melbourne, Australia he is the Artist Ambassador for the aid and development organisation ‘TEAR Australia’ and was the co-founder of community arts organisation, ‘The Centre for Poetics and Justice’ (2010-2013). Joel was the third ever Australian representative at the Individual World Poetry Slam Championships in the USA (2012) and has performed in venues like The Nuyorican Poets Cafe and Bowery Poetry Club (NYC), The Sydney Opera House, Busboys and poets (Washington DC), The Forum and Atheneum Theatres (Melbourne), The Metropolis (Montreal), Victoria Parliament House and many more. During this time he has performed alongside such poetry greats as Anis Mojgani, Shane Koyczan, Sarah Kay, Phil Kaye, Ken Arkind, Buddy Wakefield, Mahogany Brown, Jive Poetic, Carrie Rudzinski and Luka Lesson.  He is a TEDx speaker and performer, was a host on the renowned Indie-Feed Performance Poetry Podcast and is also the frontman poet from the band, ‘Joel McKerrow & the Mysterious few’.

​Joel has released three music/spoken word albums, two published books of poetry and has had writing featured in such publications as: Australian Stories for the Soul (Strand Publishing), Spirituality for Youth Work (Cambridge Scholars Press), Mindfood Magazine, Going Down Swinging Literary Journal, Gestalt Arts and Culture Journal, Red Letter Christians, New Urban World Journal, Relevant Magazine and many more. Recently Joel’s theatre show The People of the Sun, co-written with Anna McGahan, debuted to sold out and raving audiences throughout Australia.

Benjamin Solah

Benjamin Solah

Benjamin Solah is a writer, poet, spoken word artist, activist and the Director of Melbourne Spoken Word. He grew up in Western Sydney before calling Melbourne home in 2008, where he's performed since 2010 around Melbourne's regular spoken word and poetry nights including Passionate Tongues, The Dan Poets, Voices in the Attic and House of Bricks as well as the NGV and White Night. He's released a chapbook, broken bodies, and two spoken word albums, Duel Power with Santo Cazzati and The World Doesn't Make Sense EP.
Benjamin Solah