Posts By: Farah Beaini

People of the Sun: A Protest For Life

People of the Sun is an intimate collaboration between spoken word poet Joel McKerrow and playwright Anna McGahan. It is a multifaceted poetic and theatrical exploration of the theme of lightness and darkness, and all the shades between.

At the surface layer, it imagines a post-apocalyptic world where the sun has long disappeared. It traces the lives of two central characters – Joel and Anna – as they struggle with the darkness that permeates Fluoro city and yearn to see more.

The lighting and timing of space are an immersive and powerful reminder of theme. To enter, the audience must first give up their deepest secret. Characters slowly emerge from the seams of darkness, offering clues to the fate that has befallen the city. The story then unfolds through a series of narrative pieces performed by McGahan and McKerrow. It is only after light has been revealed that some of these secrets are shared; the grip of their darkness thus broken.

Those familiar with McKerrow’s work will recognise the roaring crescendo that pierces through each of the narrative pieces. The sense of hope is there, as is the invitation for people to be and join something larger than themselves.

What is different is the duality in voice as the reigns of poetic creativity are now seamlessly held by two. The initial poetic narrations were developed by McGahan, with each scene subsequently improvised, devised, and revised by McGahan and McKerrow together.

The end outcome of this process is as evocative as it is haunting; a testament to the mastery of the show’s creators of their respective disciplines. A delicate urgency and beautiful fragility permeates every word, action and sound. Although light and dark, seen and unseen, are repeated often, each utterance reveals a fresh, alternate concept for the audience to explore, react and attach meaning to.

This is the real brilliance of People of the Sun; to take the stories and experiences of two

Write what may – how to overcome writer’s block

Ah, writer’s block. Death knell of creativity, sedater of my inner muse, how I despise thee. 

But despite your best attempts at thwarting my ‘genius’, I know I will persevere. Because first and foremost, writing is about being patient with something you love to do: 

You have to simply love writing, and you have to remind yourself often that you love it – Susan Orlean (author and staff writer for The New Yorker)

And the best starting point to writing is knowing first what makes you tick,  because ultimately, that is how you can write from a position of strength, and in the process, overcome whatever it is that blocks or stops you from writing. After all:

Each of us has a unique way of seeing life and this is a best place to write from. – Kylie Supski (Melbourne spoken word poet)

This is why so many writing workshops begin with the you – where you came from, what your name means and what inspires you. While this is a good foundation, I encourage you to dig deeper and honestly ask yourself: 

Why do you write in the first place? Why don’t you write? When do you find yourself writing the least?  When do you find yourself writing the most?

For me, I don’t write when I am caught in life’s ‘heavies’, those messy strings that need time to untangle. When I am busy comparing myself to others, walking away from a poetry performance and thinking: “Wow, how could I ever write that?!”  

Because nothing kills your creativity like pointing a gun to your head loaded with the bullet: “I am not good enough.”

I write least when my sister’s cat jumps onto my laptop and decides that her paw patters can do better. When I come home too late from my analytically-focused full-time job, too tired to think of anything beyond the yawning covers of my bed.

On the flip side, I write to express myse

Slamalamadingdong – a year in review

Know nothing, and forever evolve – Michelle Alina Dabrowski

For the more seasoned slam poetry goers, Slamalamadingdong evokes a deep emotional response; a recall of their first introduction to the Melbourne slam poetry scene; a place that reignited and nourished a dormant love for poetry, breathing fire into their oral storytelling traditions.

Now in its fourth year, Slama, as it is affectionately called, has grown into one of Melbourne’s iconic slam poetry communities, attracting a diasporic world of both emerging and well-established poets, artists and performers.

At the heart of Slama’s success has been founder Michelle Alina Dabrowski’s meaningful curation of events and willingness to explore and experiment with spoken word’s place within the wider art scene, all the while honouring the show’s deep-rooted slam foundations. Supported by a loyal crew, it is Michelle’s innate and authentic ability to simultaneously hold and navigate through space – and the audience’s acceptance of her offerings – that makes Slama’s tagline ring true: “Poetry Slam meets ritual meets celebration meets community coming alive”.

While renewal has always been part of Slama’s vocabulary, this year has undoubtedly seen its greatest transformation.

The June 2015 relaunch saw Slama’s rebirth at 24moons in Northcote, with shows now scheduled for Fridays instead of Thursdays, and poets afforded 5 minute slots rather than the usual 3. Unlike its previous homeground (the Bella Union), 24moons is a much more intimate space, allowing for pockets of conversations to grow and flow and for a freer mingling of poets and audience. The new venue also affords greater flexibility to celebrate after each Slama gathering, something not possible under the old 2 hour timeframe at Bella. While the dim lighting at times makes it more difficult to gauge the audience’s reaction, the familiar finger-clicking and uplifting feeling of community