Kami & In­digo


The Advertiser - SA Weekend - - UP FRONT - Words katie spain

WHO Meet two of the state’s most suc­cess­ful slam poets, In­digo Eli and Kami McInnes. The wordy duo (along with fel­low spo­ken word en­thu­si­ast Daniel Wat­son) run Spo­ken Word SA, the new care­taker of the South Aus­tralian com­po­nent of the Aus­tralian Po­etry Slam. WORDS WORTH McInnes, 50, orig­i­nally from Mount Burr, and Eli, 31, from Ade­laide’s west, dis­cov­ered the lo­cal spo­ken word scene through dif­fer­ent paths. “I’m just a failed mu­si­cian re­ally.” McInnes laughs. The for­mer pub re­viewer for Ralph mag­a­zine first read po­etry to a crowd at a book launch in 1998. “It went from there,” he says. Eli dab­bled in po­etry dur­ing her Ad­vanced Di­ploma of Pro­fes­sional Writ­ing at TAFE SA’s Ade­laide Col­lege of the Arts. De­spite be­ing ner­vous dur­ing her first pub­lic read­ing, she was a nat­u­ral. “I was one of those kids who played and when I grew up into adult­hood de­cided to keep play­ing.” OPEN MIC As their con­fi­dence grew, both poets be­gan com­pet­ing in the SA Po­etry Slam and were a for­mi­da­ble force in the lo­cal heats. “I won the State Slam in 2008, then went to the Na­tion­als for the first time in 2009 and came run­ner-up in 2011 to Kami,” says Eli. “In 2009 I was the run­ner-up to her,” McInnes adds. SPEAK UP What does a slam in­volve? Com­peti­tors take the stage for two min­utes in the spot­light and are judged by the au­di­ence; just them and their story. Five state heats nar­row down the cream of the crop ahead of the Septem­ber 19 SA Po­etry Slam Fi­nal at the Good­wood In­sti­tute. Two win­ners head to Syd­ney to com­pete in the Na­tional Fi­nal. “It’s not themed,” says McInnes. “You’ve got two min­utes to do what­ever you want but it has to be your own work writ­ten in the last 12 months.” Props and mu­si­cal in­stru­ments are not per­mit­ted. FAIR GAME “The best thing about slams is that it’s a way for any­one who doesn’t like po­etry or thinks they’re not very smart (be­cause school told them they’re not) to get up and say some­thing,” McInnes says. “It’s like a mod­ern soap­box with a guar­an­teed au­di­ence,” Eli chuck­les. “The good thing is you’ve got two min­utes so it’s a short soap­box. It keeps you fo­cused.” CLOSE SHAVE In 2012, af­ter seven years of be­ing run by Pub­lic Li­brary Ser­vices, fund­ing was slashed and the com­pe­ti­tion faced clo­sure. “We took our­selves out of the comp and started run­ning it in­stead,” says Eli. They set up Spo­ken Word SA and based them­selves in Car­clew’s Fifth Quar­ter in Bow­den. “Last year we did it with noth­ing and this year we have fund­ing from Arts SA,” says Eli. AC­TION PACKED Per­for­mances are far from yawn-wor­thy. Any­thing goes, heats are free to en­ter (and watch) and are an in­valu­able chance for ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­po­sure. “You don’t have to do rhyming or clas­sic po­etry … it’s any­thing you want to say.” Eli waves a jam-packed pro­gram of events. “You can come and par­tic­i­pate or just be part of the au­di­ence and the spec­ta­cle it is.” Heat 1 is on Au­gust 15 at SA Writ­ers’ Cen­tre. Poets are en­cour­aged to hone their skills dur­ing Spo­ken Word SA’s events dur­ing June and July. Check PoetrySlam­SA on Face­book or aus­tralian­po­et­rys­lam.com.au

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