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Australian Poetry Slam Brisbane 2012

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by Geraldine Massey (subscribe)
I'm an experienced corporate communicator and editor with an eye for interesting events and an attachment to my trusty Oxford dictionary.
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Think you know poetry? Well, forget the purple prose of the Romantic poets, the vexed verse of the Nonsense poets and the bush ballads of Colonial times. Modern performance poets at this year's Australian Poetry Slam Brisbane heats and final will be shaking, stirring and layering the language to deliver to lively audiences the verbal equivalent of a cocktail shooter.

australian poetry slam
Image from australianpoetryslam.com


Former Chicago construction worker, Marc Smith, is generally credited as the founder of poetry slam. The poetry nights he created encouraged performances rather than formal readings. He described his vision this way, "We need people to talk poetry to each other. That's how we communicate our values, our hearts, the things that we've learned that make us who we are". This vision has since taken off around the globe.

Poetry Slam sees contestants whispering, chanting, rapping and sometimes ranting. These word weavers place their inner thoughts and beings in the spotlight, so it's definitely not for the faint of heart.

2011 Australian Poetry Slam winner Luka Lesson. Image from australianpoetryslam.com

If you think you've got what it takes the rules are pretty simple and straightforward. Any kind of poetry is allowed comic, verse, hip-hop, you name it. You'll have just two minutes and your own wild and witty wordcraft to impress five judges, who are chosen at random from the audience. No props or musical instruments are allowed. It'll be just you wielding your words, your voice and a microphone.

Brisbane Heat Details

Brisbane # 1
When: Thursday 6 July 2012. Sign up from 6pm. Slam from 6.30pm
Where: The Edge Auditorium, State Library of Queensland, South Bank.

Logan
When: Saturday 11 August . Workshop facilitated by Nick Grivas from 10am to 12 noon. Sign up from 12.30pm. Slam from 1pm.
Where: Logan Central Library, 26 Wilbur Street, Logan Central
Workshop Bookings Phone (07) 3412 4100

Brisbane # 2
When: Friday 17 August 6.30pm
Where: State Library of Queensland, South Bank

Moreton Bay
When: Tuesday 28 August. Workshop facilitated by Nick Grivas from 4pm to 6pm. Sign up from 6.30pm. Slam from 7pm.
Where: North Lakes Library, 5 Discovery Drive, North Lakes.
Workshop Bookings: Phone (07) 3480 9900

State Finals
When: 7 September 2012
Where: State Library of Queensland, South Bank

Other Heats are being held around the State. See here for details.

miles merrill poetry slam
Noted Slammer and MC for the Australian Poetry Slam National Finals, Miles Merrill. Image from australianpoetryslam.com

As far as judging is concerned economy is key. Points are deducted for exceeding the time limit. It seems appropriate given the (verbal) gymnastic nature of poetry slam that each judge will allocate a score out of ten, with the highest and lowest being discarded, and only the middle three scores counting. It's just like at the Olympics.

2 poets from each State heat will perform at the State Finals in September. Details for the National Final are still to be announced so keep you eye on the Australian Poetry Slam website for further details. The National winner will perform at the Bookworm International Writers Festival in Beijing, Chengdu and Suzhou in March 2013 and The Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Bali in October 2013.

One of the great things about Australian Poetry Slam is that it's free to enter or attend the heats. If you love the spoken word get along to one of the Brisbane heats or the State Final.

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Why? For lovers of the spoken word.
When: From 5 July to 7 September 2012.
Where: Various venues. See article for details.
Cost: It's Free to enter or attend the heats. State Final details yet to be announced.
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