Image Source: Spoken Word SA
By Zoe Kassiotis | @ZKassiotis
Spoken-word poetry has made a note-worthy comeback as a performance-based art form in Adelaide on the back of a thriving international scene.
Minimalistic free–verse poetry is easy to digest and has worked its way into pop culture, politics and activism – so it‘s no surprise that the current social media era has seen young people engage with poetry in new ways.
This new wave of poetry has become a regular form of honest and intimate entertainment, performed anywhere from Adelaide’s bars and cafes to libraries and community centres in the outer suburbs.
The resurgence of poetry in Adelaide’s streets follows global trends, where youth have moved away from the cryptic Shakespearian sonnets that millennials begrudgingly deciphered in high school.
Young people in Adelaide have reclaimed the once–tired art of poetry by creating a platform to voice their deepest thoughts, as well as explore issues such as sexuality and social injustice at popular spoken-word events.
Senior lecturer and published poet Ioana Petrescu, who teaches Reading and Writing Poetry at UniSA, said there has been a notable growth in the way her students engaged with poetry since the rise of Instagram poets, namely Australia’s own Beau Taplin.
“Students feel that poetry is something happening now, rather than something of little relevance to the present time and their own lives,” Ms Petrescu said.
“They enjoy reading this kind of poetry and feel more motivated to write their own.
“Beau Taplin’s poetry is easy to access and can be read at any time, he has a real audience for his virtual publications and this matters to the generations of young people who grew up collecting ‘likes’.”
Ms Petrescu said online spaces have allowed people to publish poetry on their own terms, which also changed how young people engage with poetry.
“The discernment process for what can be regarded as poetry moves from editors and publishers to individual readers, so people are responsible for their own choices when it comes to reading and writing poetry,” she said.
Young voices are often lost in the community, but the increasing popularity of spoken–word has seen both emerging and established young poets vent and connect, creating a network of informed young people.
Ms Petrescu said her recent students’ poetry was more engaged and enlightened than that of previous generations.
“They write about the environment, about the LGBTQI community’s struggles and achievements, about experiences based on migration cultures and other such topics which would’ve been considered a bit too heavy twenty years ago,” she said.
“People are now happier than decades ago to express their beliefs, thoughts and emotions through the medium of poetry because they find that a lot can be said within just a few lines.
“Whether online or spoken or written in petroglyphs, poetry has been and still is a valid way of artistic expression, and it’s a good thing that people can choose whichever medium they prefer to engage with.”
Ms Petrescu said her poetry students continued to engage in poetry outside of the classroom through readings in town, such as Friendly Street Poets and UniSA’s own Showpony, a regular open mic event by UniSA students and graduates.
Earlier this year, Adelaide Writers’ Week dedicated a day for middle and young adult readers for the first time.
“In today’s technology-fuelled age, it’s heartening to observe the resurgence of poetry as an art form amongst the young, particularly as a performance-based art form,” Ms Dyer said.
Local poet Gemma Boyd told ABC Adelaide that it was the personal and honest nature of live poetry that resonated with audiences.
“The best way to learn is from each other. I truly believe that. Genuine storytelling is addictive,” she said.
Adelaide–based spoken–word poet Manal Younus, who was an Australian Poetry Slam national finalist, told the ABC the poetry scene has taken off in the city, with an event almost every week.
“[Previously], the only ones you could go to were really grungy or in bars or were really traditional or classical poetry, where people would get up and read from a book quietly and slowly,” she said.
“Now we’ve been able to really invigorate it, and there’s something for everyone in the poetry scene – pretty much any style you have, you can find a poetry night that fits.
“There are no rules to it. Anyone can make it what they want it to be.”
Check out Adelaide Poetry Gig Guide on Facebook for regular updates on all poetry events and opportunities in Adelaide.