Soil featured. Also blood, breath, and human skin. Guts. On walls and lamp posts. Hands on chests. A couple of hijabs. Dark denim. Small stage. On-the-pocket-spot drummer.
I went out last night, as in out in Sydney, to a venue. A venue where there were poets. Who got up and slammed. Or read and were scored. The competitive aspect seemed like an undertow that was not, in fact, strong. Snaps happened, to appreciate the killer lines. These can, as the organiser and MC said, seem naff, and the first time she whooshed by me doing it it was strange.
I felt again that this is it. For me: words, expression, performance, body, stage, beats do it. Do that thing that goes: yes, I am alive and I love this and I have been waiting for it. Waiting for the hearing of the phrase. The phrase from a body on the stage who is living their life. On the street at their job on the train. They write a thing and practice it then it comes through the microphone. Speakers and mixing desk and people sitting on uncomfortable seats. A volunteer-run space and Marrickville cold wet. Hearts thrumming with their words from the mind of a person whose voices comes through electric wires and out speakers. And I forget that I have been waiting for this. I circle back and back to it and remember these things give me the thrill. My poet self artist self academic self gets all double-shot without the caffeine. Chat chat chat to other academic folks about gender and patriarchy and multiculturalism and generations in the break before the main act.
It’s a valve for the thoughts about the crazy. Inane world hell-bent on violent ignorance. War war war and the media. The poets help a hiss of air escape. Shout it. The hip hop rocks us.
I been going down the road of thinking how these moments of protest and discontent are in fact a part of The System: they are allowed to exist because they are a distraction from where real power is, because they don’t lead to anything. But, you know, I don’t know how it works – but this shit, the spoken word shit, the expression, critique, human voice – it does work. It does do some work. I don’t know how. Peace work. The hardest kind.