Yesterday I represented the ACT at the Australian Poetry Slam final in Sydney. I performed in front of the set for Uncle Vanya, on the same stage Cate Blanchett, John Bell, Jacki Weaver and Hugo Weaving had paced the night before and will pace again tonight. Over 400 people, who had paid to come and hear slam, were in the audience.
It was exhilarating!
My performance was only one small piece of the afternoon and early evening. I got to hear sixteen other fantastic finalists, Archie and Bravo Child performed and I shook Kamahl's hand before he sang acapella and read Mandela's 'Invictus'.
I was uplifted by the diversity of the finalists. We had poets from age 16 to something quite a bit older, from western and eastern european, african, asian and middle-eastern backgrounds with political, emotional and humorous stories. The variety and quality made me feel we have a vibrant slam community in Australia. It also humbled me - it is only going to get harder to win this in the future.
And, no, I didn't win. I didn't even come close. The winner was Kelly-Lee Hickey from Alice Springs with one of the most poetic pieces of the night. There was a slam off for second place won by Darkwing Dubs from Queensland, followed by Tariro Mavondo from Vic.
Miles Merrill, with a core of strong supporters, has done a fantastic job with the national slam. Despite losing some financial support this year, the event was bigger than ever. Miles spoke of ideas to keep evolving the event and potentially even moving the final to another city in the future.
I hope to get to be a part of it again. It was a moving experience.
Here is the full version of the poem I performed at the final. Enjoy.