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Literature Review

Are You Ready to SLAM? Round 3

Australian Poetry Slam 2020 presents
WA Heats – Round Three

Fourteen slammers, made up of both newcomers and repeat performers, graced the Main Room at the Rosemount this past Saturday for the second last heat of the WA rounds of the Australian Poetry Slam for 2020. With another huge turnout, I’d like to shine a bit of the spotlight onto the ever so amazing Tonja, one of the organisers of Slam in WA, especially for her acknowledgement always of the traditional owners of the custodial lands of which we meet for every slam, as well as calling to audience members to support the Uluru Statement From The Heart: Voice, Treaty, Truth (which everyone should support at https://ulurustatement.org, our first nations voice to parliament). For those new to Perth Slam, Tonja also always provides a content warning prior to the beginning of each heat, due to no restrictions on poetry content or use of language etc, which is so respected from all audience members.

So, the question at the beginning of the night was asked by Allan of: “You can’t make a profession out of poetry… or can you?”, and I think this was definitely answered (with a yes, of course!). The difference in score between the runner up and winner was again so close, and this week we had a classic underdog story for our winner, who was Love, with a total score of 29.30. His third time competing in the Heats, Love’s performance really went to show us that perseverance and passion, as well as trialing new poems each week to see what the audience are into, pays off. An inspiring slam; Love’s poem was as always memorised, and touched on themes of culture and growing up as Greek in Australia. The use of repetition (“Wog: noun” and “Pretty, white”) as well as a strong use of imagery created a poem that audience members were immediately hooked on, marking the quickest two minutes ever. Love’s writing really stuck with me, especially lines such as “Skin brightening cream doesn’t hurt as much as a slap across the face” and “You can call me whatever you want, I will never stop being proud of where I come from.” I am more than keen to see him perform at the final.

Pictured: Love at the WA Heats: Round 3, Rosemount Hotel

The runner up of Heat Three was a repeat slammer as well, who literally just wowed us with notable mentions in Heat Two. David Cox, with a hefty score of 28.25, stole second place with his poem which tackled the hugely controversial topic of conversion therapy in the LGBTQI community. I’ve previously mentioned Cox’s inspiring writing ability, and this week was no exception, delivering important questions such as “When will science find a cure for bigotry and hate?”. His ability also to present a relatable topic, as well as deliver it in such an engaging way, I think was a real aid to him getting through to the final, and having already tackled the topic of climate change as well, I’m in anticipation of what he will bring to the final.

Notable quotes from slammers from Heat Three for this review come from both two newcomers. Emily Svarnias addressed what we’ve all been thinking with her slam on being pro arts community in our current climate, within a government that has repeatedly slashed funding for the arts in WA. Her line “Maybe if I speak in football terms, you will understand”, was a definite stand out for relatability (in WA, at least) for the entire night. I’d also like to mention first time slammer Emma, for her quiet temperament but beautiful presence that totally took over the stage. Addressing themes of sexual abuse, not an easy feat for anyone, meant the delivery of looming one liners such a “Women are taught to be statues, they can never just want to survive.” Shout out to the audience for Heat Three also, for their support of Emma, as well as our hosts taking the time to make sure that everyone was still feeling good after a visually, somewhat confronting, but beautiful slam.

There is just one heat left for the WA rounds of the 2020 Australian Poetry Slam before the final, and it’s this Saturday, the 22nd of August, 4.30pm, the Main Room at the Rosie. Each week, the competition has been getting closer and closer in terms of scoring, and trust me when I say that the audience is growing in numbers, so get there early and sign up for your last chance to compete in the final (two spots remaining!!!). A quick heads up for the final on the 29th also: due to the Covid19 pandemic, the Main Room may only be able to hold a maximum of 150 patrons so definitely get there early. See you Saturday!

by PIP WALLER

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