The Melbourne Spoken Word Prize
On Friday night I headed into town for the extravaganza of words and wit that is the Melbourne Spoken Word Prize. Now in its fifth year, the prize features twenty-five of Melbourne's spoken word artists as nominated by the convenors of the regular poetry gigs held around Melbourne each week. If you're poet, Melbourne is the town to be in. If you don't believe me, head on over to Melbourne Spoken Word to check out the gigs on now.
The Prize was held in the ornate Collingwood Town Hall and filled with a group of chattering poets all keen to see who would take out the prize for Melbourne's best spoken word artist. There were three prizes for the night - Convenors Prize for most nominated poet, the People's Choice Award and the Judges Prize worth a cool $1400.
The poetry community is welcoming, supportive and inclusive. It's a safe space where you can be vulnerable and share your darkest and most painful moments. Going to a spoken word event is like getting a huge hug from all your friends. It was great to be there on Friday night, hearing amazing poetry and catching up with my poetry buddies.
The calibre of the performers was incredible. Their performances were electric. The way they could take a word and make it sing, turn a phrase with a deft ear, flip metaphors on their head and leave you shouting for more. I didn't envy the judges their choice at all. It was hard enough figuring out who to vote for in the People's Choice Award when all the performers were outstanding.
Emilie Collyer asked who I voted for - was it the poet whose language I admired? Or perhaps the one who tugged at my heart strings. Or maybe even the one who surprised and took the poem to unexpected places. I went for the person who moved me most. My stand out performers in a night of stars were Amy Bodossian with her poignant piece and incredible singing. Ren Alessandra with her don't mess with me feminist call to arms. Loran Steinberg with her quiet and compelling voice. Yoram Symons with his call to ad felinity to the divinity. Wahibe Moussa who hit me right in the feels. And Josh Cake for his timely piece about how much time we have left.
In the end it was Tabani Tshuma who won. And when I say won I mean he won all the prizes. The Convenors' Award, The People's Choice and the Judges' Prize. His performance was amazing. Masterful and powerful with an incredible use of language and imagery.