I’ve never been into conferences. I guess I never had something I loved enough or was passionate enough about, to make the idea of being surrounded by hundreds of other people all passionate about the same thing that appealing. I mean, there was the juggling conference I went to at 16. I couldn’t, and still can’t actually, juggle. There was the Bulldog Bash biker rally my mum used to take me to as a kid. That was exhilarating, surrounded by thousands of people all sharing the wild love of motorbikes. But that was her passion, I was always a pillion rider in spirit.
But today, today I got it. I got it in a way I never thought I could get it and I got it
I’ve been out for 18 years. The closet wasn’t something I really understood, I just understood that I have a deep longing for humans and I also understood deep in my bones that that was natural. Nothing anyone said has ever changed that. However, as a passing straight, mostly fem, bi-sexual/pan-sexual who spent many years in a relationship with a CIS man and has a child, I’ve felt very invisible in my queerness. I’m sure I am not alone in the sentiment that when you are bi or pan, the act of “Coming out” is pretty much a daily experience. (I actually wonder if this is perhaps true of a lot of queer people who are passing CIS).
So when I walked into the LGBTQI open mic room to find literally hundreds of people, queer people… Queer POETS… all in the same space, something inside me switched on. I felt like these people would get me in a way a lot of people, even past lovers, just
With that, however, for me, comes an intense fear and anxiety of “what if even these people don’t accept me”. I have found this to be a common fear among bi and pan people and again I wonder if it is common amongst all the queer community. One person yesterday put it beautifully when they said: “I think in these spaces, it’s very common for us to get Imposter Syndrome”. Coming from the mouth of a queer person in the room where I did not ONCE question their worth in that space (whilst questioning my own over and over again) it reminded me once again how we are all beating, weeping, passionate hearts. How each of us hungers so deeply for connection, for love, for acceptance. How in that way too, I was not alone in that room.
The poetry was incredible, I can not count the tears which fell from my eyes in those two hours. such compelling, profound, heartbreaking and inspiring stories from queer people of all shades, sizes, forms, and styles. The space was held beautifully by Buddy Wakefield and Andrea Gibson hosted the space beautifully.
I remember wishing that every human who did not believe that we should exist could have the opportunity to sit in a room like this, to hear these stories, to feel these tears, to see this love. That maybe then, maybe in that moment they would get it. Get us. That maybe they would see their own hungering, alone, weeping heart in our hearts and suddenly marriage equality, queer rights, and human rights wouldn’t NEED to be questioned.
This was just the beginning of our day. After a team lunch with our new friend, Korso, the magician, mime and poet from Kansas city, we headed off to the park for rehearsals. Today was our day. Today was Australia’s first ever bout at the National Poetry Slam.
The venue was breathtaking. It felt like walking into the stars with so many fairy lights strung up around the room it was as if I had been caught in the web of an enchanted spider and the sun was rising on a million drops of dew. The vibe was again, friendly, even between the competing teams and as our MC, Ken Arkind, set up the mics and ran us through the way the night would run, I felt the bubbling of nerves rising in me.
This was it.
This is what Slamalamadingdong, and the Melbourne Poetry community, had been working towards for over a year.
The bouts were great, the level of talent was crazy high, and we showed up as best we could. Ben’s role as coach meant he picked which one of us got the stage when and with what poem. John was in the first round and brought his piece about putting socks on his niece, The audience loved the cuteness of it, there really is nothing like John’s work here at all, so he stood out which was great.
I had the second round with my erotic and crazy vulnerable piece Northern Lights, I really thought people wouldn’t get it but they DID. They really did. Confronting issues such as bisexuality, polyamory, and masturbation in an awkward yet humorous love/lust poem isn’t easy in a room full of strangers, but they went there with me. The laughter and reactions from the audience
Then Ben brought his piece My Anxiety and Rikthemost did Wolf in Women’s Clothing. Again both pieces were well received.
I am going, to be honest here though, we didn’t win. But, what was clear from that night is that the Melbourne poetry community is bringing something very different to this event and the audiences LOVE that. Another flavor, rhythm, and nuance to an already bursting pallet.
After our bout was another one with four more teams, which we stayed and watched. Again they were incredible.
On a side note, the altitude here is quite something, I drunk half a vodka and blueberry juice and was already in the dizzies; I’m not a huge drinker but this was a little absurd. So fair warning, if you ever come here, you don’t need to budget much for alcohol because a little goes a looong way.
The day for us ended in a very similar way to how it began. This time it was the Erotic Open Mic and Burlesque show. Hosted by the flamboyant, outrageous and downright captivating duo Lady Speech Sankofa and Theresa Davis. Wow, these two! I wish I could fly them over to Melbourne for you all to see. WILD WOMEN! Again, there was that feeling of being in a room of people who get me. Lady Speech began the night with a declaration of “FUCK YOUR WAY TO GOD!” and, gripping my book, Sex and God, in my hands, I knew I was amongst friends. I signed up for the open mic and sat back to watch. Again, the diversity of gender, sexuality, race, age, size and more blew me away. This really is a home for the unheard voices. I won’t lie, I got very aroused! It was a seriously sexy night and when I got up to share my own piece I gave myself 100% permission to GIVE it. I did my piece, The Wolf, which describes an intimate and very raw moment of intercourse, the build up, the crashing wave, and the deep stillness in the wake of it. They fucking LOVED it. I even got a request for a re-performance at the end of the night from a couple of people, so I stood in the street and gave them a private rendition of a very, VERY sexy poem.
Bed came at about 4 am. Poetry, laced with poetry, topped with poetry and served with a huge slice of community and acknowledgment.
SUCH a good day, and I am ready for another.
I can’t lie, I am already trying to work out how I can get back again next year haha!