We head along to the Australian Poetry Slam Finals at the Queensland Poetry Festival

Last Sunday closed the week out for the Queensland chapter of Australian Poetry Slam, as part of the 21st Queensland Poetry Festival, but for some it was just the beginning.

20 Finalists.
5 judges whimsically selected from a libated crowd.
1 Bucket (it was quite literally a bucket) and 1 Winner to go onto the Nationals.

The 20 poets each walk out like a semi-sedated nervous bear in a tu-tu about to perform a circus trick. Almost tragic, but eerily fascinating; something you want to help escape, but you also want the show to go on. That’s kind of what a slam poet can often be, right? And who else to manage the circus of fantastical creatures, some spinning truth, some spinning hyperbole, than the ringleader himself, Adam Hadley.

Hadley, a seasoned slammer, MC and all around loud, yelling person, is the master of crowd control. Plucking judges and making them do his bidding, heckling the hecklers and taunting the latecomers and walk-outs was all part of the weird world of Slam.

It was interesting to see the thematic trends of the evening. As you may know, the Queensland Finalists are determined in the same judging system during heats throughout Queensland – Brisbane, Townsville, Logan, basically anywhere with a state library.

For these finalists to make it, there must’ve been some unspoken agreement or a strange collective force in tune with the charged undercurrents of this state. The Female life, politics, feelings of displacement and being lost all appeared to be recurring themes.

Poetry, after all, can be like a great tour bus across the world’s bleeding wounds. Refreshments next to the seat, seatbelts on please so you don’t fall in. To your left you see dissatisfaction toward the nanny state, and today this lucky tour will get a detour to see youth in the breaking. Lucky you. We’ll finish with afternoon tea and a man convinced this city would, one day, be okay.

In a way we were on a lucky detour, with a guest performance by international slam poet Bill Moran. The seats were uncharacteristically un-creaky as he performed his Sonnet-Ballad-Cry. His spellbinding words appeared to bind everyone to their seats, frozen, listening. Being able to command an audience like that equipped with nothing but a poem is a glorious thing.

The night closed out with a bang, and a cheering audience, which for many of these poets will be unforgettable. The finals will take place at Sydney Opera House in October – head to http://www.australianpoetryslam.com/ for details of the night and the next round of Finals in your state!


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