Bankstown Poetry Slam present The Grand Slam

The winning group from 2017's Grand Slam (poets L-R: Hannadi Dabei, Srisha Sritharan & Ruken Kaya).

Australia’s largest regular poetry slam hopes to set a new record at its fourth annual Grand Slam event next month. Bankstown Poetry Slam (BPS), supported by Western Sydney University, will be hosting its spoken word poetry finale at the Sydney ICC and is pegged to sell out the 1000 seat theatre.

The event will take place on 10 December and provide an opportunity for the poets, many of whom hail from marginalised communities, to reclaim their narratives. After a successful year of nine monthly poetry slams attracting an average of around 3,500 attendees, the stage is set for western Sydney’s finest wordsmiths.

Having sold out past Grand Slams at Sydney Town Hall and the Art Gallery of NSW, the 2018 event will be featuring internationally renowned U.S. spoken word poet, Alysia Harris, which has been a major drawcard for BPS, who sold over 20 percent of tickets within the first 48 hours.

“We are really excited to be hosting the largest poetry slam in Australia and promoting the voices of Western Sydney poets as well as fostering intercultural dialogue,” says co-founder and host of BPS, Sara Mansour.

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Graduate Studies) Professor James Arvanitakis says Western Sydney University is proud to again support this inspiring and impressive event. 

“Not only was the Bankstown Poetry Slam (BPS) co-founded by two Western students, it also aligns with so many of Western’s values – excellence, discovery, equity and inclusiveness.

“Since its launch in 2013, Bankstown Poetry Slam has also been a trailblazer in presenting western Sydney through a different lens, and in doing so, help bridge gaps of misunderstanding in the most creative and innovative way,” says Professor Arvanitakis.

The Grand Slam event will see the four highest scoring finalists from every monthly Slam event placed into teams, where they will collate their own unique experiences and create poetic magic.

Having seen and heard the talent that the finalists have demonstrated throughout the year, Sara is keen to see what they have up their sleeve: “I’m also excited for the poets to be pushing the boundaries of slam poetry artistically. Given it’s the fourth year of this event, we are expecting really unique and transformative performance pieces.”

And it’s no competition without a panel of judges. Esteemed Indigenous poet and author, Alison Whittaker, who has made a dent in the Australian poetry movement, will be one of the five judges to score the poets – and she’s excited.

Despite having such great experience in the poetry industry, Alison is going in with an open mind (and, of course, ears) to see what the talent that has been birthed in Bankstown has to offer.

“I love that Bankstown Slam is focused on community building through the arts, and their drive to platform poetry with purpose and passion is the main reason I agreed to be a judge! 

“Not everyone wins this time, but we're all sustained by a strong ecology of poetry in our community. As long as we take that mutual commitment to building and growing one another to the stage, there'll be no lack of intimacy at this huge event!”

One finalist the judges will be hearing from, Pola Fanous, began performing three years ago. Since then, he has continued to blow audiences away with his words, his performances making him “feel like a king.”

“It’s cathartic to get feelings of your chest, it’s empowering to reclaim your voice and assert your identity, it’s wild to look into the eyes of a member of the audience and see tears, it’s bliss to know you changed someone’s life,” says Pola.

While he and his team feel nerves at the sound of such a grand event, he can’t wait to experience what he says could be a highlight of his year.

“I’m nervous before every performance, but pure energy is pure energy – it keeps my performances authentic. I’m excited to shake 1000 souls though, no doubt.”

The Grand Slam will be taking place on 10 December in the Pyrmont Theatre at the International Convention Centre in Sydney, with all ages welcome to attend. Tickets can be found here. 

The Grand Slam is supported by Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue, Western Sydney University, The Crescent Foundation and BYDS.

For media enquiries, contact Sara on sara@bankstownpoetryslam.com

ENDS

26 November 2018

Media Unit.