What price do you put on poetry?

Parking: $10.60
Cover charge: $15
Beer: $7 per can
Zine: $2
Book: $20
An insight into other people’s worlds: Priceless

Thank you MasterCard for the formula.

Last night I ventured into the Perth for an evening of spoken word poetry in a small boutique bar that doubles as an art gallery and creative space. We sat in small groups on low chairs or sprawled across the floor. We sat in awe.

Spoken word poetry is a unique art form. When the practiced poet speaks the room is blanketed in captivated silence but not for long. Spoken word encourages audience participation. Call out when the words resonate with who you are and who you want to be. Click or clap when lines reach out and touch you. Do not be ashamed of your tears or your laughter. Do allow yourself to be immersed in the moment.

If you want to compare spoken word poetry to anything it’s like walking into one of those African American churches you see in the movies. It’s an appropriate analogy too. Religion and poetry have a lot in common and they are both built on storytelling. The poets who have the greatest effect on me are those who have a narrative at the core of their verse.

Last night I had the pleasure of hearing the Australian Slam Poetry Champion wax lyrical about his life. Abe Nouk speaks openly about his upbringing, his refugee status and his Australian citizenship. He captivates his audience with his honesty and his charm. Most importantly, while he was there as a guest feature, he was as enthusiastic about listening as he was about spitting (a term that is synonymous with spoken word poetry). Abe praised many of the performers for the bravery of their verse.

Also in attendance were many poets I’ve come to know and admire. Coral Carter read one of my favourite poems, the titular verse from her book Descended From Theives. It cycles through various scenarios but the crowd pleaser is always this:
“He wears a blue shearer’s singlet.
My daughter calls those singlets Wife Beaters.
But he has not got a wife that I know of, unless she is chained up down the back.”
Marcus, the Scrutineer of Splodge, wowed the crowd with his poem kept us all guessing. He touched on a number of issues without committing to any. He spoke with his usual flair; the consummate performer.

Paul Harrison read his best poem and made many a person wish he would return to writing verse. I miss his sharpness.

Jakub Dammer was also there. He is fast becoming my favourite poet and I’ve only seen him perform twice. Last year I saw him commentate a boxing match between two emotions. Last night he spun the turntables of life.

I also saw DVS perform in a way I hadn’t seen before. David Vincent Smith is equal parts poet and musician. The first time I saw him was at a workshop he ran with FG and Wisdom2th on writing hip hop lyrics. Last night he was rocking the mic as part of The Sophists – a hip-hop/poetry mash. DVS is also the person who took the photo that is the featured image for this blog post – I hope he doesn’t mind that I lifted it from Facebook.

New voices found my ears too. Jakob Boyd, aka Laundry Man (son of the legendary Anti Poet), Maddie Godfrey and Matt (who had a surname, I just can’t remember it) stood out as poets for me to start following – and I’m probably behind the 8 ball here. I’m sure they’ve been working with words for a while and I’ve just been oblivious to their magnificence.

Many thanks must go to Rahima Velagic who organised last night’s event and has been tirelessly working to bring poetry to the people.

I will leave you with a line from Abe’s book, Dear Child, and hope you find your way to verse…

“Be the Puzzle not the piece.”

One thought on “What price do you put on poetry?

  1. Pingback: Maddie Godfrey’s body IS a poem | bartopia

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