Poetry Slam - Newcastle Heat (view from the DJ booth) / by Kian West


One of the great benefits of being a DJ is the invitation to play at random places... I've done 8th Birthday's, weddings, Autonomy Day, lots of clubs & now I'm adding Poetry Slam to the list!poetry slam 01 Like many others, I had no idea what a Poetry Slam was so rocked up with zero expectations.

Lucky for me I had an excuse so no cause for awkwardly sitting in the corner, I awkwardly stood in the corner playing some tunes to set the mood... But lets go back a step.

It was a Saturday afternoon about 542PM... Or so my phone said to me as a call came through from Mr. David Graham, the man behind the event, a little panic stricken I imagine 'cause I'd told him I'd be there by 530PM and well, I was 12 minutes late. But it was rainy and gross outside and I hadn't factored that into travel time nor had I thought through getting my gear to the car in the wet so it took a little more than originally estimated, but I was there! So after some quick chit chat I brought stuff inside the Royal Exchange on Bolton Street in the Newcastle CBD, had a chat with Dean, the manager, sound guy and all around good dude, who indicated I should set up at side of stage. A few more moments with some cables and the less fun part of being a DJ, I was set up, tunes playing and all was good.

6PM by then and David was onto the next task of ensuring the door person arrived to collect $ from attendees, they were also a couple of minutes late, Stupid Rain!

Door people arrived, presenter and the hardcore crowd and David set up the signup table on stage... Here are a few quick details I then found out - all contestants have 2 minutes to present, points are lost for going over for each 10 seconds and there is a limit of 20 contestants for each heat. All contestants are drawn out of a hat for the order, really building on the suspense of the event.

There were probably 30 willing contestants, but the end of the line got cut off at that 20 mark and the rest were left to wander back to seats and watch the others... nearing 7PM now, music was pulsing along and building tension as nerves seemed to fill the air.

And then... BOOM! The kick off, at before you knew it 10 amazing contestants had stood infront of a 70 strong crowd and dropped verse or prose or any other poetry SLAM into 2 minutes, some funny or dark, or sad or light, but all impressive and immersive and then the half way mark and I dropped a few beats while points were added and the crowd resettled.

Another 10 incredible contestants came through all equally impressive and then all 20 had competed.

I'm not going to elaborate on all the impressive contestants but simply say that it opened my eyes to an artform I'd otherwise have avoided and would recommend the experience to everyone, if for nothing other than entertainment value.

There was a draw for 3rd so two contestants were thrown into a slam to compete for the prize... cool stuff. 1st and 2nd place move on to the semi's in Sydney...

Then the event was over, venue slowly clearing out as winners and losers spoke kindly to one another and it seemed to be a nurturing and pleasant, supportive crowd. Over all, an impressive evening.


Shout out to David Graham for inviting me along!