This time last year this arrived in my inbox from the Wheeler Centre (a place which does everything writing, for and about writers, named after its patrons Maureen and Tony Wheeler of Lonely Planet fame):
Here’s that reminder you asked for. Tomorrow from 6.15pm (AEDT), you can tune in to our stream of OutLoud Secondary Digital Slam! 2020 Final. The annual competition sees secondary school students devising and performing original works of poetry and spoken word. There are three categories: Years 7–8, Year 9 and Years 10–12, with students able to enter as individuals or in teams of up to three. This year, the final will take place as an online event, hosted by the amazing Emilie Zoey Baker. Presented in partnership with Australian Poetry with support from the Cultural Fund. If you can’t join us in real-time, you can catch up on the stream at any time — along with thousands of other great conversations and events.
It took me a while to find the mind-time and physical-time coinciding in one place, to give the Secondary Slam Final the close attention it deserved. I was so glad I took the time to listen to it and watch it! Never having attended the Secondary Slam in person before, I was awed by the standard of the performances and the passion of its poets! I marvelled at the diversity of them – when collated as a group – wondering how one theme, one approach, could inspire so many different directions … but that’s the inherent nature of art.
What makes these poems strong is not just the words but the performances behind them. As there has not been much call for me to recite my poetry on a public stage I am not accustomed to delivering my words in a forum such as this. When I do I’m a lot more nervous than these confident young people are!
I am inspired by the strength of the words of the youth of today, and (along with other inspiring young poets such as Amanda Gorman, the highly impressive 2017 US Youth Poet Laureate who performed at Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony) I am assauged of latent feelings of despair: the future of written and spoken art (and therefore, the future of broader culture) is in safe hands, with up-and-coming poet-performers like these … if we as a collective audience take the time to listen – and invest in – such talent.