Posts By: Benjamin Solah

Melbourne Spoken Word to host spoken word festival online in 2020

With the world in a pretty unprecedented situation, as people already know, and although it’s by far not the most important issue right now, it’s had a pretty devastating effect on the arts, including the spoken word community.

Obviously, us coming together as a community at events in person are a crucial part of spoken word, and one the main reasons MSW exists is to support those community events. For us, it’s not just about the art form or individual artists, but how the art form brings people together, whether you’ve been doing this as a career for ages or whether you’ve turned up to an open mic for the very first time.

It’s been a learning experience and a bit of brightness amongst the darkness to watch how people have responded to self-isolation and lockdown measures by finding ways to use online platforms to continue to host open mics and other events. Alongside us starting to live stream events, we’ve been watching the rest of our community and the different ways events have gone online.

Spoken word, storytelling, poetry and writing still remain a way we can express ourselves and try to make sense of the world we live in and for us to come together as a community and for people’s voices to be heard. This remains critical in a time of self-isolation.

With most expert opinions predicting that this situation is likely to continue for months, not just weeks, the likelihood of us being able to hold in person events with an audience in July or August is pretty unlikely, and so Melbourne Spoken Word has made a decision to not hold The Melbourne Spoken Word & Poetry Festival in 2020.

Instead, we’re announcing The Melbourne Spoken Word Festival Online for 2020, with a new expressions of interest period now open for organisations and producers to propose events to be held on online as part of our program this year. We’re excited to see what spoken word

The 2019 XYZ Prize for Innovation in Spoken Word winner: Fable Goldsmith and Rae White

In its 5th 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.

This year, the winner of The 2019 XYZ Prize is Fable Goldsmith and the highest placed QLD entry is Rae White.

Home – Fable Goldsmith

I kiss her first.I wait I hold my breath, in this moment reciprocation means everythingI do not know if I can take another breath without it.I draw breath as she kisses me back I take her in, Holding on to each breathAs If I have only ever breathedunderwater,

How light she feels,How she fills the empty spaceinside my chest,How she navigates her way into my veins,turns question to meaning, meaning to answer.I surrender.my body to hersnaked and honest, tremblingThis is the first time I am not afraid. The first time another body has become a safe space.

We find each other in the dark,as our hands reachwe find ourselves in each othernavigating new worlds under bed sheets.

She tells memy body is a poemshe will never get tired of readinga trailshe will never tire of taking She tells me homeis where we both stand.

Years pass, Every time I touch her feels like the first time, I still catch my breath from her kissesHer skin is always new

Years pass, I kiss her firstShe stallsHolds her breath,hands trembling as if holding a trigger she just can’t bring herself to pull

She fires.

BangHer honesty becomes a rain of bulletsand I the only target

Bang

She tells me her heart is needy,never full

Bang

she tells meher hands are travellers,that have wandered from my touch.

Bang

She tells me her mouth is hungr

On the mic for the first time: 8 tips for your first open mic performance

So you want to try your hand at open mic spoken word or poetry for the first time and you’re either too nervous or don’t know where to start or have never done it before and are just curious on the best tips/advice to do it without making a fool of yourself?

The good news is that there are always so many more people trying it for the first time and as Hamish Danks Brown says there’s a 100% survival rate for performing, you’re not going to die on stage and will probably want to get up again.

That said, here’s some handy tips for performing on the open mic for the first time or times.

Pick your gigThere are a lot of open mics and places to perform. You could go to a lot of them or you could find your home in one gig. Gigs like Bar Oussou and Passionate Tongues are great for first time performers, there’s gigs that tend to have different styles or create spaces for groups of poets like for women poets or poets of colour, so it’s worth going to a couple to see where you want to settle. Some poets recommend finding your favourite and sticking to it, others say read as widely as possible. But if you go to one and it isn’t quite your cup of tea, the good news is there’s many more to try out instead.Follow the rulesGenerally all gigs have a time limit and a way of signing up to perform. If you don’t know, check with the gig host. It’s a good idea to not go overtime (less is often more) and to respect your audience and the space created. Usually time limits either 3 minutes or 5 minutes. Sometimes there’s a theme or certain types of poems of encouraged or discouraged, you want to check whether your content fits, e.g. some places might not want swearing or adult themed content. Some open mics have limited spots and so it’s a good idea to turn up early or time to get a spot. If in doubt, ask the host.It’s ok to be nervousBeing nervous is normal, even poets that ha