As a nation, we Irish are great lovers of the spoken word. While many non-Irish may scoff at this notion, the fact is that we’ve produced some of the finest poets and literary figures in history.
From WB Yeats to Seamus Heaney, and Patrick Kavanagh to Ronan Keating… hang on scratch that last one, but you get the message.
We love a bit of poetry, but here in Australia have our work cut out looking for a good spot to listen to the spoken word.
Aside from some pretty amazing expats poems, poetry is in short supply among the Irish community.
Thankfully, there are places where aspiring poets can find their audience.
So if listening to heartfelt words spoken aloud is your cup of Barry’s then here are a few ideas for you.
The Australian Poetry Slam
This year’s final has already passed, but the annual Australian Poetry Slam is just about the best place for lovers of poetry to find ears for their work or to listen to the latest up and coming poets on stage.
As you can imagine, the poetry slam is a fast-paced event that allows anyone to enter.
Sign up opens just thirty minutes before the slam, and once an entrant is on stage, they have a microphone and two minutes to deliver.
One of the most interesting aspects of this poetry event is that the judges are randomly selected from the audience. So even if you’re not a poet, there’s a chance you could be involved.
Back home, the pub is where we often hear our poetry recited, so it stands to reason that we’d be on the lookout for similar venues here in Oz.
Australia is a little different though, and the local drinks emporium may not be the best source of classical poetry.
While there are pubs with poetry nights, you’ll also find poetry in local cafes and even museums.
Of course, none of these places holds a candle to the likes of Toner’s Pub in Dublin, a pub where Kavanagh, Joyce, and Yeats are said to have drank.
However, the places listed below are pretty good spots to get your poetry fix.
Sappho Books – Sydney
Located in Glebe Point in Sydney, Sappho Books is more than just a bookstore.
Here you can enjoy a coffee, read to your heart’s content, or enjoy a beer, but most importantly, you can also listen to some great poetry.
On the second Tuesday of every month, there’s a poetry night when three or four poets will read their work to the audience.
They also have an open mic hour when everyone is free to perform, but spots are limited so you’ll need to get in early to book your slot on the stage.
Friend in Hand – Sydney
This pub is probably the most famous place in Sydney for poetry and funny enough, it’s also located in Glebe.
They have regular poetry nights on the first Tuesday of every month with a similar running time to Sappho.
Open mic slots are limited to five, but they reckon that you’ll hear at least 12-13 poets in any given night. Not bad at all.
The Drunken Poet – Melbourne
Voted by many as the best Irish pub in Melbourne, this place is an obvious choice for lovers of poetry.
However, despite its moniker, this pub only has an open mic night that is open to all performers. It’s on the first and third Thursday of every month and as we said open to everyone from comedians to musicians.
If you’re lucky, you’ll hear a bit of poetry though it’s not guaranteed.
Despite its thriving poetry scene, events in Melbourne tend to be irregular so check up on the Melbourne Spoken Word website about events happening in the city.
So, whether you’re a dedicated creator of the spoken word, a poet that doesn’t know it (sorry but that pun just had to happen somewhere), or you just want to listen to some fine poetry, check out the places above or try to head along to the next slam near you.
It’s true, poetry is indeed alive and kicking here in Australia.
Time for some pints and poetry methinks!