The Rise of Spoken Word Poetry Nights in Geelong

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The Rise of Spoken Word Poetry Nights in Geelong

Charles Bukowski said it well when he wrote; “If you’re doing it for money or fame, don’t do it.” Poetry isn’t something for material gain. At its core poetry is a form of expression, release and for discovering the inner most elements of who you are, and also, as the trio behind lowercase poetry have soon found, it’s also about connecting with others.

Created by Joshua Maxwell de Hoog, Annie Mullen-Walsh and Yasmin Mobayad, lowercase is a night that invites those new and familiar to poetry to share their craft with an audience of like-minded people. The night strips away the preconceived ideas of poetry and simply allows something that’s seen as a relatively personal practice to become a lot more public.

“The first one was packed and it was a real shock,” Mullen-Walsh says of the first event.

“The first one was very much lots of people coming to see but not many people feeling comfortable to come up, and each time since, someone who has been here for the others has gotten up and been brave enough. I guess it is because it’s not a remotely judgemental crowd, it’s just a really easy vibe to get around. Everyone’s super supportive,” Maxwell de Hoog adds.

Image by Lucinda Goodwin

Image by Lucinda Goodwin

The popularity of the night, with its fourth instalment set for June 23, begs the question, are we entering a period where spoken word poetry is more accepted and celebrated? With the likes of Kate Tempest winning a Mercury Prize nomination and her applauded performance on ABC’s show Q&A, I certainly hope it’s here to stay.

While lowercase mightn’t be covering as lauded topics as Tempest’s tales of drugs and desire or Sarah Kay’s ‘If I Should have a daughter…’ performance, with past night topics of ‘Regret and Disruption’ and ‘The First Time I Ever’, it’s helping Geelong locals tap into a new creative mindframe previously unreached in Geelong. And with new skills comes greater confidence, as each night more attendees get the courage to stand on stage, even to perform their words.

“I think we are creating our own crowd… it’s a very cultured crowd of all ages and it’s really inviting,” Maxwell de Hoog says.

“We’ve had people saying how great a community it is, and that it’s a safe environment. There are people rushing back from Melbourne to get back here on time. And it’s nice to hear that from people because you know you’re making a difference to someone’s day,” Mobayad adds.

What’s even more humbling of the rise of this creative medium is that it’s been completely natural. Just as we’ve recognised rap for its lyricism, we’ve come to find a home in listening to people speak poetry rather than reading it straight off the page.

And the beauty of what these events encourages, is that while some translations of poems may be amiss, when it’s done in a intimate setting such as at Analogue Academy, it enables listeners to understand the poem in its entirety by asking the poet just what they meant.

“You’ve got more control of the tone and the way it’s read when you’re reading it. Where in a book you have control over the medium and you can interpret many different ways,” Mullen-Walsh says.

“Also connecting with other poets is pretty cool and really important so you don’t feel that isolation in your creativity.”

While the team don’t have a plan for if the venue is to reach capacity, it’s certainly heading that way, with each night seeing more attendees fighting for chairs. What makes the event’s success even greater is that the gold coin donation to get in is donated to the Indigenous Literary Foundation.

If you’d like to get involved in the lowercase poetry nights, look them up on Facebook or get in contact with Analogue Academy café. The next poetry night runs at Analogue on August 18.

Written by Amanda Sherring