We know this is a Melbourne focussed site, but for something a bit different, Adonis Storr introduces us to Silver Words, a poetry gig further south, in Tasmania.
Words by Adonis Storr
“So I’ve been doing this stuff for twenty years now and no-one has ever heard it.”
A gasp ran through the crowd before an eager ring of applause resonated round the loft of 129 Elizabeth St, Hobart A.K.A. Frankie’s Empire at the Grand Opening of Silver Words – Spoken Word Open Mic Night.
I first began writing poetry when I was 12 years old. The first poem was about an idea I had of a ‘perfect world’ and was inspired by Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a dream” speech. 14 years have passed since the moment of that first poem. Now 26, I felt the time was right, or at least overdue, to step into the light, and reveal myself to the world: a poet.
But where to do this?
I really had no idea of the history of, or access to Spoken Word in Tasmania when I first sought out a place to perform.
Previous to my arrival on the shores of Tassie in 2010, there had been several poetry nights in Hobart: ‘Cast of thousands’ and its spin-off ‘Bracket and Jam’, as well as poetry readings at the Republic Bar & Cafe, North Hobart. The readings still continue at the Republic, 1st Sunday of every month, 3-5pm; I will be performing there Sunday 7th July.
However, while poetry readings and performance poetry are similar to spoken word, there are important differences. Spoken Word and SLAMs especially, seem to me to be far more influenced by a hip-hop culture that speaks of protest, passion and youth. This is why spoken word is so exciting and challenging, with performers mixing their voices with silence, all attention on them, little or no props to hide behind and their soul on display for all to see.
Creating, setting up and running an event on your own is very challenging, but the most rewarding thing I have ever done. Silver Words really is a labour of love. Work that I do not get paid for, except in the thanks of people who appreciate it (and in anonymous donations I receive). Yet every effort will not be wasted I hope, for spoken word is a genre which deserves representation; it is a genre which is relatively new, yet has it’s roots in the first human communications; and it is a medium which deserves to be as popular, I believe, as film or music.
The build up to the first night was intense and stressful. I couldn’t afford to be nervous as I would be MCing the night. Time and relying on performers seemed against me. To add to my stress there were only a few people who arrived at the start, none of them being the opening performer. In fact, it took 45 minutes to get under-way, by that time the room had swelled to around 20 or so people. The opening performer still had not turned up (he actually got arrested that night, never making it) so we battled on! I opened with a poem from the 19th Century by an anonymous early colonial Tasmanian, before introducing the first ever Silver Words performers: Wolf-Arrow Rain, Phoenix Rain, Karina Castan and myself. The rest of the night went just as stressfully with another 5 performers not turning up. However, it was a success! The night was filmed by Flowing Image Videography and the DVD is coming soon!
The Second Show on the 6th June was a much smoother night than the bizarre wonderland of the 1st Show. Silver Words revealed itself this time in the shop front, with the warmth, and luxurious coffee, cakes and soup. We were very proud to bring back Sean Kelly after a 10-year hiatus. Sean gave a fantastic performance finishing with a ‘silent poem’ (he wrote the poem on small notes and ate them – they weren’t even rice paper). There were many great acts. Peter Macpherson got some fantastic footage and photos; we audio recorded Silver Words II, it’s being mixed ready for a CD release.
As I write this, tomorrow will be Silver Words IV – Protest Poetry Special, held on Independence Day (4th July), and at the end of this month we play host to Cameron, from the Tasmanian Poetry Festival, as he presents the Hobart Heat of the Australian Poetry SLAM!, Friday 19th July (instead of Thursday), performers will compete to represent Tasmania at the National Final in Sydney!
My dream was to create a magical world: away from the madness of the every day monotony of work; away from the saturation of music and video; and away from exclusivity. A warm, magical world was born in the biting wind of the Tasmanian wintertime from dream I had. Silver Words, is Hobart’s Spoken Word Open Mic Night held at Frankie’s Empire, 129 Elizabeth St, 7000, every 2nd Thursday.
Adonis Storr is an Author, Poet, Blogger, Singer-Songwriter, Actor, Musician Radio Presenter, Philosopher, Event Organiser, Business Consultant and much more!