By Lorraine Clarke
WHENEVER ANYONE asks Yvonne Gluyas, ‘What is Slam Poetry?’ she always replies, ‘It’s performance poetry. It’s the best fun you can have in two minutes!’
Yvonne should know. She has been writing and reciting her award-winning poems for years now. After great success with poems like ‘My Cat Can Speak Catonese,’ ‘How Could You Do This To Me’ and ‘What Kevin Rudd Really Said to the Chinese President’ (written and performed in Chinese), she has progressed to mentoring the next generation of Tasmanian poets who enter local rounds of the Australian Poetry Slam each year, culminating in a trip to the Sydney Opera House for the Grand Final in October.
She shamelessly admits she schmoozes politicians and sells raffle tickets for funding to take ‘her poets’ on this interstate trip where she rents a house for 3 days to give them an unforgettable experience.
On August 20, Mark and Amanda Flanigan, proprietors of the Empire Hotel opened their doors and hearts, sponsoring and providing prizes for a heat of the Poetry Slam. A number of poets performed to an appreciative audience in a cosy fireside atmosphere, where MC Yvonne co-opted members of the audience into impromptu judging roles, and put everyone at their ease. ‘That’s my job,’ she said, ‘to make sure that everyone feels included.’
Grace Chia earned third place with her impassioned performance of ‘Like I Loved Him’, about losing her man. ‘I waited too long – someone else got to him first. I can’t speak to him, so I wrote a poem.’
Second place was taken by Rohan King and ‘Neogenesis’. He said he has written lots, but is not really the performing type, which was belied by his very engaging performance on the night.
‘I would like to at least get the chance to go to the Opera House,’ he said, and now his dream seems within reach.
Rebecca Young won with ‘Just the Other Week,’ which took only an hour to write but which she practised 50 times before standing up to recite it. She said modestly, ‘I’ve always liked poems, but never thought I was any good’.
Yvonne said, ‘Poetry doesn’t have to rhyme. Issue-based poems go down well. They can be literary, comedy, burlesque, political. It’s lovely to see the younger generation coming up with skills to equal their talented parents.’
Yvonne polished her public performing skills through Toastmasters. She says, ‘I credit Toastmasters with the ability to go on stage and sparkle.’
Annually, over 1000 writers perform their original poems through heats in country towns and capital cities. Poetry Slam’s motto is ‘Write a Revolution’. If you are interested in expressing your deepest issues in public poetry and claiming your two minutes of best fun, over and over in the next rounds, check out the website: www.australianpoetryslam.com.