My journey started at the Bankstown Arts Centre when I attended the “Real Talk” pre-show. I sat in the small theatre with a bunch of other enthusiasts, listening to young poets talk about the importance of respectful relationships as they covered broken marriages, racism, domestic violence, sexism, gender expectations and social media.
Shortly after, the “Bankstown Poetry Slam” commenced, and I was in awe of the sheer guts the contenders showed by getting up there, amateurs and pros alike, for the sake of creative expression.
At the Parramatta Artists’ Studios for “Get Your Poetry Up and Out There” audiences listened keenly to discussions among panel members including Ahmad Al Rady, Michelle Cahill, Fiona Wright and Elizabeth Allen. I also had the opportunity to perform a poem for the open-mic section of the event, one that I had actually written on the night of the “Bankstown Poetry Slam”.
From that point the voyage into the literary unknowns took me to the beautiful landscape of The Wharf in the Sydney CBD.
The other events I attended, “The Rules of Seduction in Screenwriting”, The “UTS Anthology Launch” and “Imagined Futures” were unique events in themselves, but didn’t feel like strong highlights the way the prior poetry events were for me.
“The Rumble”, another poetry event hosted by Word Travels, revealed the inner musings of the teen poets who participated. My favourite performers weren’t any of the contenders, but the guest poets Jay May and Zohab Zee Khan.
I also attended two young adult fiction panels, “The Rise and Rise of YA” and “Realistic Issues in Teen Fiction”. Two things that stood out to me were, firstly, that YA writers shouldn’t feel stymied by censorship concerns as fiction is a safe space to allow adolescents to explore pressing issues. Secondly, I was amazed to hear some authors say that the character arcs and plot endings they wrote developed naturally, almost intuitively, without rigid planning.