Sunday, October 14, 2012

$$$$ MAKE MONEY MONEY!!!! $$$$

Well you may know, or well you may not, about Jam Jar Poetry Slam and it's place as a place to place your words/stories/monologues/raps etc...

It's been running for over a year and in that time we've seen seen some pretty interesting changes and growth.

It costs money to enter now. A whole $5.
And while I haven't had much of a backlash about it, there is a small amount of discontent. A really minimal amount, but I thought it was worth discussing.
Because, apparently, paying for poetry is just not done.
It's a foreign concept.

Movies, ok. Books, ok. Music, ok. Plays, ok. Art galleries, ok...
But spoken word?
You fucking sellout moneymaking scumbag.
See we value our art, enough to attend, enough to want to join a community of artists, enough to write, but not enough to pay.

And there is definitely a broken culture of how we value our spoken word in Brisbane.

I was performing at a gig in Sydney called Outspoken, and a friend from Canberra came up to hang out while I was close(ish).
It was $10 to enter.
She was told she could get in for free because she was with me.
You know what she said?
"Ten dollars...? Maaaaan, I'll pay ten dollars to see poetry! Here".
And she gave them a ten dollar note and walked on in without blinking an eye.

Now I'm wondering if there are people in Brisbane who would do the same thing?
And don't get me wrong, I don't think it's out of spite or nastiness.
I just wonder if we've become so accustomed to free spoken word events that the concept of paying, of someone making a living off their spoken word art, is... weird.

You know why the events were free?
Because no-one would come.

But now there's a bubbling community of die-hard poetic lovers.
Why not say: If I put on a good show, you pay me - so I can eat, or drink, or get a tattoo, or smoke crack, or... gosh... maybe buy a new writing book? a pen? or pay for flights so I can bring Brisbane spoken word to other cities? Or just exist as an artist?

When I was starting out doing spoken word, I was paid according to my skill level. Or the funding for the venue. I now charge more. I charge more for workshops and more for a set. Because my skill set has been shaped and challenged and rewarded and learnt over nearly 7 years of spoken word. Add another 4/5 onto that  for writing rhymes, hip-hop, beat making and DJing and there's a shit load of experience there. And I'm not trying to blow my on horn, I've just come to a point where I know what I can do.
Yet I do a fuck load of free events for community-run organisations, festivals and arts groups.
And every payment sits within the standard awards for artists.

I value what I do.
And I have the right to make money off what I do.

Of course, the people who don't like it are in a teeny tiny minority.

Thanks to the majority of people who pay without fuss. And would probably pay more.

I can pay my rent now.

I can give the features some good cash for their work, their risk taking, their writing and their performance.

Poets are getting paid!!! Thanks to you!!!

And when it comes to funding, grant writing, and all that bureaucratic stuff, the government and funding bodies can see an economy based around this arts community and tick their boxes accordingly.
So we can build and create something to be proud of.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mad Scientists in the Universe of Spoken Wired

Pic from:

Over this past year I've had the delightful opportunity to host a series of workshops for scientists, yes REAL scientists, surrounding spoken word.


A spoken word artist facilitating scientists???
But they're like... doctors and stuff?!
They could save my life!
I can't operate on a person with a poem!
I can't discover a new planet through rhyme!"

Yep, that's what I thought when the lovely crew at The Edge brought this concept together.

You see, poetry was pretty boring to "general audiences" before poetry slam right? (Just run with me here, it's a black or white statement, and I can hear your argument against it already, but let's just leave the shades of grey for now...)
So the basic concept was to have a platform for science to be as exciting for an everyday audience as poetry slam is for an everyday audience.

You with me?

The workshops feed into an event called The Mad Scientists Tea Party, and over the past year I've seen scientists take audiences step by step through wrestling dugongs, talking to computers, using your own skin as art, naming new discoveries, black holes and transparent buildings (that don't need lighting other than the sun) PLUS what the universe is made of and how we're made of the same stuff.

It's been freakishly amazing, splendidly inspiring and one of the most fascinating events in Brisbane.

Each scientist, doctor, student, science based artist or general lover of sciency stuff has had 5 minutes - no powerpoint - to tell us what they do OR what they know OR just why they love science.
The event culminates in an industry pro sharing their passion for a 1/2 hour presentation - which has taken us to the world of flying foxes, science as art, the galaxy, new planets... To name a few.

Saturday the 20th of October is the final Mad Scientist Tea Party at The Edge, 5:30pm. It's $10 entry and you get some blooming tea with entry. It's really cool. Like science.

Come along and check out why this event has been selling out pretty much all year.
And I promise you, you'll learn something you never knew you never knew.
The Edge Facebook
Mad Scientist Tea Party Event Brite

Rumour has it that, seeing as we've been discussing galaxies and worlds within, there might be a bit of a tangent into sci-fi, gaming, general geekdom and how worlds are created within our imaginations from a few speakers too...)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I'm in Going Down Swinging!!!!!

What a trip.
As a Performance Poet it's a weird feeling having work published or used in a way that has nothing to do with a stage.

So issue #33 of GDS is amazing for me not only because it features an audio recording of my piece If Jesus Was Born Again He Would Convert To Buddhism, but because there's something about GDS that just smells, looks, tastes (the pages are very crunchy) of quality. It's a big moment, and a nice milestone of 2012.

It's also been the first year I've been published, with my poem Thorn sitting in amongst the literary masterpieces from the QPF 2012 Anthology. Humbling indeed.

I have recently finished my self published chapbook too - Sinking/Floating. It's $7 if you want a copy! It has some old performance favourites as well as some pieces that seemed to find their way onto the pages without me ever performing them... very cool.

If you're a performer, and a bit of a wordsmith, does it look odd when you see your work in print? I know a script always seems a bit strange to me until it's been thought through and acted out.
What about poetry that sits on the page? There's been many an occasion when I've been bored out of my mind by a poet reading their work and wishing, dying, hoping, that they would just let me read their work in silence before they ruin the whole thing.
If you're curious about this kind of conversation, head to FreeVerse!, next Wednesday the 17th at the State Library of QLD. It features word queen, prose wizard and villanelle temptress Zenobia Frost versus ritual-shirt-tearing-pants-dropping-hold-on-tight performance poet Robin Archbold. It's hosted by the dynamic David Stavanger and should keep you thinking: Is there a difference? And do we really care?