Slam­ming lim­its of spo­ken po­etry

Central Leader - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

They’ve al­ready talked the talk and now they’re back to break all the rules.

Twelve of the best poets to grad­u­ate from the Ris­ing Voices Po­etry Slam will each present a 15-minute show­case of their work at the Herald Theatre tonight and to­mor­row with­out any of the con­straints of tra­di­tional slam po­etry.

Slam poets usu­ally have just three min­utes to per­form their ma­te­rial from mem­ory to an au­di­ence us­ing their own style of de­liv­ery.

In­stead of just a poet and the stage, this weekend there will also be props, mu­sic and dance.

Mt Al­bert per­former Jess Bates is among the Ris­ing Voices alumna tak­ing to the stage.

The 28-year-old was part of the pro­gramme when it in­tro­duced a new au­di­ence to the world of spo­ken-word po­etry in 2011.

Its founders, Grace Tay­lor and Jai MacDon­ald, wanted to give young poets the chance to de­velop their writ­ing and per­for­mance with six weeks of in­ten­sive work­shops and a fi­nal com­pe­ti­tion.

‘‘Be­fore, there was this deficit in the scene with po­etry re­ally only be­ing read by al­co­holics and aca­demics at the pub.

‘‘Now, three years later, we’ve got this plethora of dif­fer­ent voices in the scene, which is re­ally won­der­ful.’’

Ms Bates re­turned to po­etry last year af­ter tak­ing time off to fin­ish her mas­ter’s the­sis.

Ev­ery­one will be bring­ing their A-game for this weekend’s show­case, Ms Bates says.

‘‘We’ve been given a clean slate to do what­ever we want. It’s kind of ter­ri­fy­ing, but I’m ex­cited by the op­por­tu­nity to show what I can do.’’

‘‘Even with spo­ken word ex­plod­ing as a form, we still have quite a nar­row view of what po­etry is, but I think it can be bloody en­ter­tain­ing.’’

She will per­form a col­lab­o­ra­tive work with 11 other poets at this year’s Ade­laide Fringe fes­ti­val. She will then per­form in Lon­don and at the Ed­in­burgh Fringe fes­ti­val be­fore head­ing to clown school in Paris.

Ms Tay­lor is look­ing for­ward to the event and is ‘‘re­ally ex­cited to see how far they push them­selves and what might emerge in the wake’’.

Ris­ing Voices Sum­mer Se­ries is tonight and to­mor­row from 7.30pm at the Herald Theatre, Aotea Cen­tre.

Photo: JESS LEE

No lim­its: Jess Bates will be break­ing the rules of a tra­di­tional po­etry slam at the Ris­ing Voices Sum­mer Se­ries.

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