09 October 2008

wake up and smell the poetry

Documenting Slam 07:

"It's the 21st century and I think it's time to wake up and smell the poetry."

SOURCE - ABC Albany 19/09/07

So says Alan Boyd, a West Australian performance poet who was in Albany to run workshops ahead of the local heat of the National Poetry Slam. The Albany heat of the National Poetry Slam was just one of the many events on offer at the Sprung Writers Festival. The slam encourages people to present a poem to the audience in less than two minutes.

Even though he's running workshops in poetry, Alan calls himself an anti-poet. "Poetry perhaps is an old art form and many people think it's irrelevant these days," says Alan. "If that's the case I say I'm the anti poet and that poetry is relevant, and it's in our faces every day, in our ears as we listen to the radio and you see it in the street you see it in advertising and you see people and hear people making their own poetry."

He says there has been a renaissance in performance poetry. "If you think about performance poetry it predates written history," says Alan. There's no mystery about what makes a performance poem, he says.

"Once you take the words off the page then it becomes a performance poem." "It's about performance, it's about theatre, making the use of the stage, engaging the audience and making people part of the performance," he says. "A lot of academics dont like the idea of slams or performance poetry because it's too entertaining."

Alan describes the Slam as "poetry for the people". Even the judging is democratic. "The performers are judged by randomly chosen members of the audience," he says. In terms of what it takes to be successful, Alan says "rehearse, rehearse, rehearse".

"I suppose it's just a matter of being confident in the work that you're going to present," says Alan. "That means knowing your stuff, rehearsing it, recording it, pacing it, understanding things like enunciation and delivery, making the use of the space and things like that. It's just generally taking away some of the nerves because I think that's where some of us trip ourselves up. The more you practice and the more you're in tune with your work, the more confident you are and the better performance you'll give." Albany ABC RADIO

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