Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Australian Poetry Slam controversy - What do you think?

There was a pretty impressive turnout for last night's Ferntree Gully heat of the Australian Poetry Slam '09, with 28 poets arriving to strut their stuff. Ezra Bix took out first place with Bec Alice Graham the runner-up. Both move into the State final, which will be at the State Library on Thursday 12 Nov. And while both were very deserving of their prizes, the evening was filled with controversy.

Which was perhaps bound to happen anyway with 28 people showing up for just 20 competetition places. But it was more about people claiming to not have been aware of there only being 20. Once registrations opened, the first 15 were automatically included, then the next 5 were drawn from the rest. Organisers insisted this was/is the international rule and that those rules can be found on the website.

I somehow knew there were only 20 spots available beforehand, but now that I'm searching the sites, I wonder how I actually knew. Maybe because I'm a stickler for rules, I might have asked questions of the right people at some earlier meeting? I was in the first 15, so competed, and if you're interested, I scored reasonably well, with mostly 8.somethings, compared to the winner, who scored a 10 from one judge and 9.high-somethings from the others.

While I enjoyed the night and was really pleased that a poetry event was happening out our way (even though I'm another 30 minute drive out), I can't help but wonder if the heatedness of the night didn't do more to deter poetry newcomers rather than interest them in becoming more involved?

I'm going to let you judge this one. The postcard/flyer for the event sends you to the State Library website, (where you can also get details of the other heats and the state final), and here are the rules from the Australian Poetry Slam. Here's the Facebook page too.

What do you think? Did they do the right thing, or should all 28 poets have been allowed to enter?


Anna said...

It was only 8 more people, surely they could have bit a bit less anal about it.

crazyjane13 said...

Either someone screwed up on the website, or there's been a real breakdown in communication. Either way, it's going to generate a lot of ill feeling. Personally, I feel they should have - at least - taken down the details of those poets who missed out and given them priority in a later heat. Ideally, they should have been permitted to compete - if the organisation screws up, it's completely unfair to make others miss out on a shot at a finals place.

Tiggy Johnson said...

Thanks Anna and crazyjane13, that's a great idea about taking their names as priority for a next heat, and a few suggested they might go to Frankston next Tuesday. As far as a 'screw up' goes, the organisers were adamant that the rules were clear and easily accessible.

I think this is the first time there's ever been more than 20 for a Vic heat, so hopefully they'll learn for next year.