Australian Poetry Slam

The Australian Poetry Slam is a national competition for spoken word artists. Anyone can enter. In 2017, 50 heats will be held in towns, cities and suburbs hold slam heats, in state and territory of Australia. Cafe's, libraries, festivals, community halls, pubs and clubs host these events. Audiences award scores to each poet. The favourite poet from each heat is eligible to compete at a regional or state poetry slam final. The best from each state and territory travel to Sydney, to perform for a packed out audience at the National Final. The national slam champion wins prizes and professional gigs.


Word Travels Fast Arielle Cottingham 2016 Australian Poetry Slam

Word Travels Fast

Tegan Nicholls joins Word Travels on a quest across NSW, meeting young slam poets at the crossroads of race, access and recognition. From small country towns to beachside writer’s festivals, Tegan and the Word Travels crew road trip across the state recording stories, rehearsals and conversations all leading up to one big moment: the Australian Poetry Slam National Final at the Sydney Opera House.

But this series isn’t about winners and losers, it’s about what it’s like to be a dream-big poet in small-town Australia.

You can also listen to Word Travels Fast on iTunes and Soundcloud.

Word Travels Fast is supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW.

Episode 1 - ‘All performance poetry is doggerel’

In a guesthouse in Byron Bay, the crew overhear an interstate festival director declaring Slam poets aren’t real writers… and that their work is “shit”. It’s the first day of the Slam heats and questions around the legitimacy of their art hang heavy over the poets’ heads.

Episode Compiler: Tegan Nicholls
Music: 'ABC' – Jackson 5, 'Criminal' – 'Fiona Apple', If only out of vanity – Staceyann Chin

Episode 2 - 'Kempsey is kind of like a zombie apocalypse, but it's one you can overcome'

The crew heads to regional Australia and encounter some of the restrictions that slam poetry faces in country towns. Controversy arises when a Byron competitor enters the Kempsey heat for another chance at the title and a seventh day adventist school imposes limits to what can be discussed during their workshop.

Episode Compiler: Tegan Nicholls
Music: 'On the road again' - Willie Nelson, Liam Moylan, Tegan Nicholls

Episode 3 - Gosford Speaks Up

In Gosford, the crew holds a poetry slam at a hip, little cafe called The Loungeroom. During the heat a range of topics are raised by the performers, from racism to mental health to KFC.

Episode Compiler: Tegan Nicholls
Music: 'For Emma' - Bon Iver

Episode 4 - Nowra's Poetry Rhapsody

With performances of bohemian rhapsody and viral video star librarians, the Nowra library is not your usual library. This uniqueness is reflected in the artists at the Nowra heat. With the youngest aged 13 and the oldest 70 years their senior, Nowra showcases that passion for spoken word has no age. 

Episode Compiler: Tegan Nicholls

Episode 5 - Albury Writes Around

The crew are in Albury this week and taking part in the creative hub that is the Write Around the Murray Festival. Here, they meet an author who has hand-sewn his own book, a band from over the border and a poet who is still completing year 11.

Episode Compiler: Tegan Nicholls
Music: Mayfair Lane

Episode 6 - The NSW Finals

The competition is heating up at the 2017 Australian Poetry Slam's NSW State Final. Hosted at The State Library of NSW by the 2016 national champion, Arielle Cottingham, we hear the culmination of the NSW heats in the passionate performances from their winners.

Episode Compiler: Tegan Nicholls
Music:  'Boogs, bumps and thumps' - Alexander Michael French, John Maddox, 'Uptown' - Podington Bear, 'Closing' - Tegan Nicholls

Episode 7 - The National Finals

The 2017 Australian Poetry Slam National Final is here! The culmination of a number of nationwide heats has arrived, with some of Australia's best spoken word artists flocking to Sydney to perform on the Sydney Opera House stage. With passionate performances and tie-breaking slam-offs, this is an explosive final episode of Word Travels Fast.

Episode Compiler: Tegan Nicholls
Music: 'Wandering Eye' - Fat Freddy's Drop, 'Criminal' - Fiona Apple, DJ Leonardo De Casio's 2017 APS set

Australia Council for the Arts
Create NSW logo
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Australian Poetry Slam is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body and supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW, as well as Copyright Agency Cultural Fund.