Saturday, August 28… the FINAL of the 2021 Australian Poetry Slam, West Australian Heats.
And what a month that was.
New and old faces, a huge range of content, and of course, slams that make you think, shock you and leave you wondering, what the fuck did I just watch.
This time in the MAIN BAR at the Rosemount, slam lovers filled the room from 4pm to witness the immense talent that made up the final 9 poets.
Armed with new works, the poets were again randomly selected to perform, with the top four heading through to round two.
Audience members from last year will remember the exceedingly talented, “Antidisciplinary Artist” that is Daley Rangi (@daleyrangi), who was once again the sacrificial poet for the 2021 final.
I won’t of course spend too much time reflecting on the lyrical wit that is Rangi’s work, but what a way to ease into the final with a slam that literally calls on one to reflect on their own writing.
“Soaked in our lyrical labours we glow.”
Again – like last year – here is a summary of each poet (if that’s possible):
- Scott-Patrick Mitchell (SPM) @spmpoet
As the first cab off the rank, SPM certainly delivered with a comical, memorised slam centered around children’s entertainment group The Wiggles in their recent announcement of additional Wiggles joining their team. I enjoyed seeing SPM perform a more comedic slam, seeing their somewhat more serious toned performances the few weeks prior. SPM just oozes passion, and commands the stage every single time they’re on it. Using different tones in their voice, hand gestures, and smart use of the microphone, SPM was the perfect first peek into the final.
“The Wiggles are taking over the world.”
“Fuckwits” Ross also decided to change it up for the final, deciding to slam on a more serious topic for round one of the finals. With a memorised slam, Ross was engaging and certainly captivated the audience with his vivid imagery of “Surfing at Blackfellas”.
“Breaking swollen tongues against the swollen jaws of the continent” was a definite stand out line for me.
I just have to say, biggest props to Zendog’s memory. The amount of words that guy can spit at the audience in seemingly one breath is so inspiring. Zendog’s slam had a continuous beat to it and paired with use of hand gestures and body language, was quite captivating to watch as an audience member. Around the topic of sex workers, Zendog’s slam was jam packed with imagery and poetically beautiful stanzas that lingered with you for a moment before he moved onto the next.
“See how the darkness lingers in the deep end of her eyes.”
- Sally Newman @lyricalinfusion
It’s really hard to write a review without showing any bias or immense support for someone but… Having watched Sally a few times now, she always slams about a topic that anyone can find relation to, in my opinion. She even dresses bright and cheerful. Sally once again performed a poem committed to memory, using rhyme, imagery and thought-provoking lines. Her slam even ended with a shout out for the audience to get involved, asking us to raise our hands and admit if we’ve ever done something wrong.
“I’m 47 years of age and my recovery starts right now on this stage.”
Jo’s slam was a combination of touching on a deeper, more serious topic, and hilarious lines that make you think, what. Through her memorised slam, Jo used rhyme filled with anger and passion that she was really able to project in a way that all of us as an audience felt. Quite inspirational I found as well, with comments around being ill, turning to the repeated line “I will fall back down and get back up.”
“I will enjoy an unencumbered breath.”
- Manveen Kohli @uncensored.poet
There’s something quite admirable about a poet that takes time to make sure the audience can hear her and also gives them a trigger warning – patriarchy, of course. It was great to see Manveen back behind the mic this year, with again, a hugely inspiring poem, memorised, that was centered around the rights of women. Manveen has a great presence about her, one that similar to other slammers at the final, allows her to command the stage with such confidence, but gracefully.
“Didn’t you know that female promiscuity is a game… your response if your responsibility… it’s time to obliviate the patriarchy.”
- Skylar J. Wynter @skylarjwynter.darkpoet
Never have I wanted to dye my hair blue more. Skylar pulled out some fantastic slams this year, both filled with highly relatable content and delivered in such an engaging way that really makes you want to listen. Centered around female empowerment and comments on the ‘Me Too’ movement, Skylar slammed with such confidence, spitting lines that seemed all too familiar (as a woman anyway) in this slippery world.
But I have to say – and I don’t want to highlight this or make a big deal – but Skylar was so inspiring because of her ability to pick herself back up even when making a mistake. She set a great example to ever slammer in that room and I commend her.
“The presumption of innocence doesn’t make you innocent”
- Jane @dirtyfilthycommie
Jane was definitely a slammer I was looking forward to seeing again at the final, and she certainty did not disappoint. What I enjoyed the most about Jane’s slam was the subject matter, delivered in a way that allowed you to look exactly down the looking glass into what Jane had clearly experienced before. Once again in white, Elizabethan style makeup with intense, blue eye shadow, Jane exuded passion as she spat lines that were repeated like “Don’t ask the question” and “Every gig I go to the band never stops playing.”
“I am teenage sex appeal.”
- Biddle @biddlepo
It was awesome to see Biddle perform again after a period of three weeks since heat one. Imagery, rhyme, passion, emotion, Biddle had it all in their slam, which was definitely worth waiting for. Biddle just has a distinct tone in their voice that just makes their slam engaging and that little bit different that makes you keep listening. I think content wise as well Biddle performed a slam we could all relate to.
“Don’t you dare love me, I’ll love enough for two. I’ll love enough for myself.”
OKAY top four that went through to the final… and no I could not pick this because the scores seemed that damn close as always. In no order of course:
Zendog, Ross, Sally Newman and Biddle.
With four completely new poems for 2021… I’ll keep it simple.
Ross: “Cocooning her nightmares I cannot reach”
Zendog: “I’m dead but still undefected”
Sally Newman: “Her mind is on a carousel and she’s slipping away”
Biddle: “Can you hear me now, am I loud enough to be human?”
AND the winter of the 2021 Australian Poetry Slam, West Australia leg?
ZENDOG with a score of 27.21, the winner for 2021, and of $1,000!!
Biddle was the runner up with a score of 27, and $500!
Well, that’s it, over for another year. BUT Perth Slam isn’t and will be back on at the Rosemount on September 25 for the monthly slams.
Check out more on Perth Slam’s Facebook page!
Editor, The Independent Press Co.