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Literature Review

Are You Ready to SLAM? Round 2

Australian Poetry Slam 2020 presents
WA Heats Round Two!

“Were poets perform poetry at you, for you … in you.”

Heat Two of the WA Heats of the Australian Poetry Slam was a colossal night with 15 poets all piled in to the Main Room at the Rosie. A notably bigger turn out than Heat One (to be expected if you take history into account), the night again featured a vast range of poets from various backgrounds, cultures, age ranges and genders. With five judges randomly selected from the crowd (via raffle tickets handed out at the door), judges are asked to score each poet from 1 to 9, with two decimal places to ensure no ties. As per the rules of any poetry slam in Australia, the highest and lowest scores are disregarded, and the remaining figures determine the final score of each poet.

The Antipoet (Allan Boyd) was the Sacrificial Poet this week, which gave the judges a chance to practice their sweet scoring skills. Slamming a poem written that day just for the heats, “This Poem is a Sacrifice”, served as a great first poem to kick off Heat 2 (nothing like a highly satisfying use of rhyme ie. sanitised and circumcised). With such a diverse range of poets, the difference between each score again was crazy close, with .06 being the difference in scores between second and third.

The runner up for the evening was Danno Hansen, who’s full on repetition of words beginning with the letter ‘P’, helped deliver a shocking slam very similar to that of rapping, with a hip moving beat and all. With his inviting body language and political themes addressed, Dan moved through a range of topics that left the audience with their mouths open and wanting more, clearly deserving to head to the finals on the 29th. Manveen Kohli very humbly took the title of winner of Heat Two, with her eye-opening slam “Why I Will Never Call India Home”. Touching on heritage and culture, Kohli’s poem content and focus on the empowerment of women reminded me of the work of Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa, another spoken word pro who continuously performs in Perth’s industry. In my opinion, what made Kohli’s slam stand out was that we as an audience were being educated with her words, also whilst being hooked on her natural stage presence and ability to commit her words to memory. A standout  line from “Why I Will Never Call India Home” had to be “Loving this country is like loving an abuser, and there is nothing more dangerous than turning an abuser into home.”A highly deserved win.     

With a previously mentioned 15 poets in total, there were many memorable one liners of the night, and I have to say I am constantly in awe of the raw talent of the writers in Perth. David Cox delivered a humorous yet relatable poem reflecting the style somewhat of that of stand-up comedy, breaking the ‘fourth wall’ and asking direct questions to the audience. I’m sure a lot of audience members could relate to his line “Climate change is like losing your virginity – you don’t notice the slight change but you know you’ve been fucked”, and it showed. Veronica Habieb’s poem was also a highlight to me, and served as a strong way to finish Heat Two. Her witty words and captivating performance helped deliver compelling one liners such as “People’s ears are vacant, but their hearts are clearly bare”, and “Darkness has his hands around my eyes again.”  

If you’re keen to expose your ears to some poetic gems delivered through slam this Saturday night (15th Aug), Heat Three of the WA Heats of the Australian Poetry Slam, will be on same time, same place (4.30pm, Main Room). If Heat Two was anything to go off, Saturday’s spectacle should allure a range of poetry (and non-poetry) lovers, and will surely be a night not to be missed. For those prospective slammers, Heat Three is your second last chance to get into the comp, so sign up, and slam!

by PIP WALLER

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