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 and poetry looks like in the online space, with live streams, videos, webinars, video calls, chatrooms, and interactive content all with a focus or anchored in the Melbourne community whilst allowing for the online world to explore a poetry community without borders, and without the need to pay for flights and accommodation for our international friends.

Melbourne Spoken Word has plans to facilitate some key events and programs as part of the festival, but the rest is for independent events to fill out, and we’re excited to work alongside so many of you and support you realising your online vision.

Expressions of Interest are now open until Thursday, May 14. We look forward to the ideas and proposals people are going to throw at us, and we hope you are all keeping safe.

Technology photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com

Benjamin Solah