All about Australian Poetry Slam October 2022

Australian Poetry Slam Youth

The Australian Poetry Slam is a national poetry slam tournament every year in Australia. Through a series of heats and finals, contestants of diverse ages, experiences, and abilities perform live and are judged by the public to identify the best locally and nationally. It is organised in the format of an “open slam,” where anyone may sign up to perform. The potential previous year’s Australian Poetry Slam Champion or another well-known performer usually hosts the events. The Australian Poetry Slam (APS) is a live literary competition where the crowd chooses the winner. The top slammers compete in 60 heats around the country for a chance to win the APS National Final. In previous years, the grand prize was an all-expenses-paid foreign tour, including performances at arts festivals in Australia, Southeast Asia, and North America.


The Australian Poetry Slam began in 2005 and has grown from regional and state competitions to national tournaments. Word Travels’ relationship with government libraries from 2005 to 2009 made this feasible in a significant part, and the collaboration continues on a smaller basis. In 2008, it grew into a national competition, with Omar Musa becoming the first Australian Poetry Slam Champion. National poetry slams, which follow a similar structure, are held in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and many African countries. Through his artistic endeavours and the foundation of Word Travels, Miles Merrill took poetry slams from Chicago to Australia. Word Travels’ creative director is still Merrill.

Word Travels was incorporated and designated as a not-for-profit arts organisation in 2010. The Australian Poetry Slam was founded and is still operated by Word Travels with the help of government funding and grants, and public donations. Word Travels has also launched Story Week, an annual literary event in Sydney, New South Wales, and corresponds with the Australian Poetry Slam National Finals. Workshops, debates, and performances by local and international artists are usually part of Story Week in various places across Sydney, NSW. Ian Keteku, Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa, and Deborah Emmanuel are among the artists who have participated in Story Week.

Rules & Prize 

The Australian Poetry Slam has a simple set of regulations to regulate participation, organise logistics, and ensure fairness. The current Australian Poetry Slam regulations may be found on the website of the Australian Poetry Slam. Every year, the competition kicks off with over 50 heats representing local government districts from all around Australia. The top scorers from each heat advance to the regional, state, or territory finals. Many heats are held expressly for the Australian Poetry Slam competition. Some of them are held in conjunction with local spoken word events, including West Side Poetry Slam and Enough Said Poetry Slam in New South Wales.

While spectators clap after each performance, they also click throughout the performance to support the poet, a popular poetry slam style tradition. It allows audience members to give immediate feedback on whatever lines, phrases, or gestures resonated the most with them without interfering with the performance. Previous first-place rewards have included the chance to play at the Byron Writers Festival and Hong Kong International Literary Festival, with travel expenses paid for by Word Travels and their partners. Bundanon Trust has also offered the Australian Poetry Slam Champion a two-week writing retreat in New South Wales. Do you know? If the winner of a potential Australian Poetry Slam is under 18 or is not an Australian resident, a cash reward is given instead.

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Fun Fact

Who is the first Australian Poetry Slam Winner?

Melanie Mununggurr-Williams is the first Australian Poetry Slam Winner.

If Life is just a game and luck is for losers - Then I am winning the game
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