Ironically for a poetry slam, I don’t think words are the best way to describe Bad!Slam!No!Biscuit! Rather, it’s something that you have to experience for yourself.
If you were to enter the Phoenix mid-way through the poetry slam you might be forgiven for having thought that you had tumbled down a rabbit hole or fallen through a wardrobe into a bizarre world in which regular social conventions no longer apply. However, if you happened to catch the beginning of the slam you would have heard the MC’s, or Master of Conflict’s, explanation that the audience is encouraged to hoot, holler, boo, hiss and heckle as much as possible. For every old poem, collective cries of “Ahh Bats!” are encouraged, whilst for new poems poets are to be bombarded with shouts of “I f***ed your dad!” and “sex time!” The scoring system ranges from a high of 10 to a low of negative infinity, judges are selected from the audience and each poet’s introduction is preceded by a random quote (on this night, they were from Michael Bay, of whom I learnt a surprisingly large amount).
Eighteen poets competed for both poetic glory and the multitude of first prizes available on this particular night. Performers varied from poetry slam regulars and crowd favourites like Raphael Kabo, with whom half of the crowd chanted along to “The Night They Set Canberra on Fire”, to first-timers Sarah, Ziggy and Neil who were granted three complimentary hugs each for losing their slammer virginity. Verses ventured from allegories of love and past relationships to the exploration of “Vulcan nipples”, “things that rhyme with Zoe” and “zombie salmon”.
Three intervals broke up the string of competitors, the first two of which included recitals by veteran slammers Aaron, Hadley and Amelia whose vocal and rhythmic mastery were cause for more than ovation. Hadley’s grizzly howls in particular were evocative of Ginsberg and sent a collective shiver down the spine of the audience. The third interval featured the animated and pervasive rock of Fuzzsuckers, whose cover of Iggy Pop had half of the crowd dancing riotously on the stage.
And how else could a night in the twilight zone that is Bad!Slam!No!Biscuit! end, except with the final poet for the evening Johnny Austin reciting a song about “Accidental Incest”?
Oh, and Sarah was declared the winner and won a zipper tie.
Bad!Slam!No!Biscuit! is on at the Phoenix on the third Wednesday of every month from 7.30pm -11pm. If you want poetry before then, You Are Here is hosting the Tragic Troubadors one last time, 5.30-6.30pm tonight in the Civic Bus Interchange. On Saturday night, there is Page vs Stage: The You Are Here Combat Edition, 6pm-7.30pm at Fletcher Jones in Civic.
Ash Goldberg is submitting work to us as a part of the fantastic Papercuts program put together by the beautiful people at Scissors Paper Pen. The work and opinions belong to them, we are simply giving them a space to show their talents.
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[Photo courtesy of Adam Thomas]