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Literature Review

Are You Ready to SLAM?

Australian Poetry Slam 2020 presents:
WA Heats — Round One!

Saturday the 1st of August marked Heat One of the WA Heats of the Australian Poetry Slam, a National competition aimed at drawing out Australia’s best slammers.

Held in Perth at the ever so shwanky Bar 459 at the Rosemount, the dim lighting and candle lit tables created an alternative atmosphere that made even the most least interested poet, keen to slam. Created in 2005, the Australian Poetry Slam holds the title for one of the largest performing writers programs in the world, seeing thousands of poets from all over Australia, slamming into the spotlight. The yearly competition for 2020 held in August, consists of four heats in Perth, with the runner up and winner from each heat heading to the finals at the end of the month, marking the biggest slamathon of the year.

From 4.30 in the arvo, various punctual poets signed up at the door with the fantastic (scientist, not poet) Tonja Boyd. With 20 spots up for grabs each week, Heat One only had 8 poets dare to dream, with the audience turnout actually being the one for the history books, with past slams for Heat One usually only bringing a small audience to the table. Hosted by Allan Boyd (The Antipoet) and Jakob Boyd (Laundryman), the evening featured poets covering a vast range of topics, as well as first timers to the stage. Personally I had expected a lot of poems to cover popular themes at the present, such as Coronavirus and WA relevant Politics, but was pleasantly surprised at the range, proving that no matter what is going down in the world, a poets creativity cannot be influenced or swayed. Heat One therefore provided a pleasant escape from reality, which obviously attracted a vast audience, a lot of whom were not actually poets themselves.   

With 8 poets as previously mentioned, the night had a lot of standout slammers, with props to Jakob and Allan for sanitising the mic between each performer. Danny (“My skin and bones are made of glass”), Baby Talk (“All my endings are waiting to begin”), David Cox (“There’s one true god and his name is greed”) and Anna, who placed third (“The system is suffering so suffer with it”), were all part of these standouts.

The runner up of the evening, Scott-Patrick Mitchell, made us think twice with his committed, engaging slam, which was fully memorised without need for any paper or phone to read from. With his relevant topic that touched on corona and everyone’s manic supermarket dash for supplies, Mitchell was aided with the use of his body language as well as poetic devices such as repetition (“Don’t touch your face”), that created a simple but effective poem, using humour, relatability, and imagery. His line “Kindness is always damn expensive in a place like this”rang true to even the newest of audience members. The winner for Heat One, Zen performs: The Beggar, took the title by .02 of a point. Having personally seen his work before at previous slams, Zen is quickly becoming known for his sharp memory and relatable content. Using poetic devices such a rhyme, Zen’s performance was so intriguing, with inspirational, standout, imagery soaked lines such as “My death leaves but dust and echoes” and “The broken mirror shows my breath”. A poem that didn’t just stick to one distinct topic or theme, Zen took the title of champion for Heat 1 with gratitude and I for one cannot wait to see both finalists perform again.

Overall, Heat One attracted a vast range of people in a comfy atmosphere, paving the way for Heat Two and setting the bar higher than previous years. For those who are wanting to compete, or to simply attend, the final will be held on the 29th of August, from which the winner will compete in the National Final (usually held at the Sydney Opera House, but this year likely via Zoom, thanks ‘rona) for the title of Australian Poetry Slam Champion, 2020.  

But first – Heat Two on the 8th, which no doubt will be full of more thought provoking, captivating poetry, which I for one cannot wait to experience.

by PIP WALLER

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