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
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
BangHer honesty becomes a rain of bulletsand I the only target
She tells me her heart is needy,never full
she tells meher hands are travellers,that have wandered from my touch.
She tells me her mouth is hungr
Alongside myself, since 2014, Melbourne Spoken Word has been run by a dedicated committee of poets, some that have come and gone along the way. Meeting roughly once a month, the committee is responsible for the day to day running of MSW, helping keep the organization running, promoting poetry and spoken word in general, deciding line-ups and the events we run, helping with the festival and The MSW Prize, working MSW toward incorporation and helping out at events.
The current committee is Benjamin Solah, Amanda Anastasi, Rowan White, Es Foong, Kendra Keller, Brendan Bonsack, Phil Kent-Hughes and Trixi Rosa.
We’re putting a call out for a couple of new committee members. MSW is seeking poets that are active in the spoken word and poetry scene and regularly attends a variety of events, someone who ideally already has a relationship with MSW and the things we do, and doesn’t have any other major spoken word projects on their plate like running their own gig. People from diverse backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply.
Committee members would be involved in decision making, supporting with promotion, taking on some other volunteer tasks and helping out at events.
If you’re interested in becoming a committee member, please email benjamin AT melbournespokenword DOT com or via the contact page with some info about you and how you fit into the above criteria. If you have any questions, feel free to email or chat to a current committee member at any events.
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
The Melbourne Visiting Poets Program is proud to announce the selection of its 2019 regional resident.
Mindy Gill has been selected from Australian poets based outside of capital cities.
Applicants represented emerging, mid-career and senior talents. The applications were assessed by representatives of the program’s partners, RMIT non/fictionLab, Rabbit Poetry, Australian Poetry and Melbourne Spoken Word. The program thanks all applicants to this round.
Mindy joins the program’s past residents including Lionel Fogarty, Amanda Stewart, Natalie Harkin, Stuart Cooke, Andy Jackson, Ellen Van Neerven, David Stavanger and Alison Whittaker. In August, Mindy’s residency will be followed by the program’s invited resident for 2019, Ali Cobby Eckermann.
Mindy Gill’s poems have appeared in Island Magazine, The Lifted Brow, Award Winning Australian Writing and the Queensland Art Gallery. She is the recipient of the Queensland Premier’s Writers and Publishers Award, a Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellowship and the Tom Collins Poetry Prize. She is Peril Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief.
Mindy will be visiting Melbourne from the Gold Coast. She will be working with the program to deliver a series of public activities in early May. Details of events will be promoted through the program partners.
The Melbourne Visiting Poets Program acknowledges the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the Eastern Kulin Nations as the traditional owners of the land on which much of this program takes place. It respectfully recognises Elders both past and present.
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body. It is also made possible by in-kind support from its partners.
Melbourne Spoken Word was founded in 2015, with the idea of it being a central online hub for spoken word in Melbourne, the place to find out about events, discuss spoken word, and involve the spoken word scene in a unified platform to amplify our artform and bring in new audiences.
A couple of years ago we expanded from a website that people could add their events and submit articles to, to an organisation consisting of a committee from the spoken word community to create accountability and share some decision making. This year, as we move towards incorporation, we wanted to expand that further.
We’re calling out for those involved in spoken word in Melbourne to fulfil some specific roles, namely some people for our new Board and some fresh perspectives in the current committee. We also want to create some co-ordinator roles, including a reviews editor, a comment/opinion pieces editor, some interviewers and a producer to help to produce our podcast and audio-journal, Audacious.
All roles unless otherwise stated are currently volunteer roles, and for people with a passion for spoken word and existing support for the aims of Melbourne Spoken Word. Currently, MSW is applying for grants and seeking other funds to provide payment for roles. We’d love for you to be part of the process of MSW becoming an official not-for-profit organisation for the spoken word scene in Melbourne. MSW believes in paying artists where funding is available. We’re not looking for someone who merely wants to use the role to add something to their CV, but someone who sees the value of this work in the community.
Board Members MSW is in the process of forming a legally recognised incorporated association, with membership, that is registered as deductible gift recipient (DGR) – that’s a not for profit organisation that you can become a member of. In order to do that, we need to form a board, and are calling for expressions of interests,