POETRY has won once again in Western Australia with poets hitting the stage for Heat 1 of the 2021 Australian Poetry Slam on Saturday, August 7.
With mouths ready to spit words full of content set to top anything Perth has seen before – 11 slammers competed in the hopes of making the top three to head to the final on August 28.
Heat 1 once again was set in the swanky Four5nine bar at the Rosemount and marked the start of a comp that will host three rounds of heats and a final.
Hosted once again by the ever engaging and thought provoking Antipoet and Checkout Chick, and with the assistance of the inspiring and delightful Tonya, the event saw a room full of eager slammers ready to set the bar for 2021.
As always – because of Covid (what hasn’t that virus affected) – the Antipoet confirmed the Australian Poetry Slam would look a little different this year, with uncertainties around which state will be able to commence their heats due to pandemic related lockdowns.
“We don’t live in a state, WA is a country now.”
To date, South Australia will hold their first heat on August 13, with New South Wales a definite no for the time being (for obvious reasons), and Victoria is still reconstructing their dates.
But regardless, the WA heats are charging full steam ahead, with $1000 on offer for the state champ, even if there is no final in Sydney for 2021.
At a random draw once again, the eleven poets of Heat 1 were: Scott Patrick-Mitchell, David Cox, Tara, Baby Talk, Skylar J Wynter, Zen Dog, Biddle, Taylar, Chris Jansen, Annette Orr and Sally Newman.
A mix of both newcomers and regulars – WA’s Heat 1 of the Australian Poetry Slam offered a range of different poetic styles, techniques and topics; with many not touching on the current pandemic situation, which was refreshing.
In third place was Zen Dog – who notably placed first in Heat 1 of 2020 whilst known as ‘Zen’.
Similar to last year, Zen once again performed a slam committed to memory – that was smart, thought provoking and relatable.
Focusing on the subject of women, Zen centered his slam around women being subjected to the male gaze, with one liners such as “Still shaped by choices other choose” and “Your life began from a vagina”.
Skylar J Wynter took out second place with her poem that yes was relevant to Covid – but touched on themes of suicide due to job loss relevant to impacts of the pandemic.
Notably with long, blue hair (some regular slammers may remember seeing her with shorter, blue hair last year), Skylar commented on how loss of employment as a result of Covid was “just as deadly as the virus”.
Her poem was so relatable – with so many of us having heard the words essential and unnecessary over the last year and a half.
Skylar comments on how nobody should be told they’re unnecessary, finishing her slam with the bold statement of “how could they not know the antidote to humanity, is hope.”
First place was taken out by Biddle, a regular slammer, who definitely captivated the audience as soon as they took to the stage with a quirky somewhat infectious personality.
Despite reading off their poem off their phone, Biddle was so engaging and clearly passionate to another level that made their slam one definitely not to miss.
Playing on the letter b, Biddle used repetition to slam words relevant to b and the insect, a bee.
“Am I buzzing hard enough for you? To be or not to be?”
It’s difficult to pin point exactly what Biddle’s slam was about – but in true slam fashion, this is what’s great about the performance. There are no rules, and the content is whatever you’re feeling in that moment.
Notable quotes for the night included David Cox’s passionate slam about climate change (“when did you decide that children were an acceptable sacrifice?”), Annette Ore’s confessional insight into what it’s like to experience domestic violence (“If the voice in your head say’s don’t go, listen”) and Sally Newman’s slam which served as a message to stop incorrectly educating people into believing that everything a man does, is a sign of rape or ‘going too far’ (“To them I say I’m sorry”).
Heat 2 will have another 20 spots for slammers keen to have their shot at getting to the final on August 28 – so make sure you head to the Rosemount from 4.30pm on August 14.
Also, a shout out is in order for poet Daniel Youndegin (finalist for 2020), who wasn’t performing for Heat 1, but who hugged every poet who had performed after their slam.
PIP WALLER (she/her)
Editor, The Independent Press Co.