Podcast: Spoken Word Poetry With Ami Mattison

If you are into poetry and creativity you definitely want to listen to this great interview with performance poet Ami Mattison, which includes the debut performance of a new poem ‘Cracked Open”.

Ami Mattison is a performance poet and teacher. She has been called “a spoken word force to be reckoned with” and “a powerhouse poet…sexy, funny, funky and yet substantive”. Her blog Poetry n’ Progress is about creating a life in poetry.

In this podcast you will learn:

  • How Ami discovered open mic performance poetry and decided to start performing her own. She saw how performance poetry and spoken word makes poetry accessible to audiences and gives them an experience.
  • Open mic and poetry slams are events that are now happening globally. They are held at a small venue and poets show up to perform, and can be held as competitions.
  • How spoken word poetry can be done to music, and how this relates to rap. Spoken word poetry as an outsider art, looked down upon by the literary tradition. It is intended to be understood and accessible to a wider audience, but is not considered ‘literary’.
  • Using your body and physicality in performance and how it can help you with your reading. Passion in performance is carried into your body. Don’t be afraid to be ugly!
  • On confidence when performing. Fake it until you make it. Fear is about challenge and if you are uncomfortable then you are doing something worthwhile. Dealing with the judgment of others.
  • Finding events for spoken word. They are generally low budget and advertised in creative cafes or newspapers so they are not widely advertised. Keep an eye out!
  • On speaking about controversial and political topics. Writing about your own personal experiences makes the poetry powerful, and poetry is often an expression of experience that enables people to empathize. It is a way of education as well as experience.
  • Love your audience. They know whether you like or not! Show them you are doing this for them – their entertainment and enjoyment. Never apologize or explain. Show, don’t tell your work. Also check out Ami’s posts on  memorizing your work.
  • How poetry can help you in your creativity. Poetry as the backbone of writing. It teaches you to create images, metaphor and simile, point of view and other craft techniques. It teaches you brevity which is important to all writers. It also requires you to go to the inner meaning of life and find meaning and truth there. It’s about living deeply and expressing it.
  • On the power of claiming the word “poet” and other important statements that help your confidence as a writer.
  • Some of Ami’s recommended poets: Adrian Rich and June Jordan
  • If you want to write poetry, definitely read it but just start writing. “Look over your left shoulder, then your right shoulder. There’s no one there” – great tip for beginning writers. Poetry can be helpful when life is intense. Poetry distills experience.
  • Ami performs “Cracked Open” for us – the debut of this new poem (23:55 start)

You can find Ami at her blog Poetry n’ Progress where you can also get an mp3 of her performance. You can also find her on Twitter @amimattison and YouTube/amimattison .

[Personal note: After speaking with Ami, I googled “spoken word poetry Brisbane” and I’m now going to an event for Queensland Poetry Festival in a few weeks. Try looking for an event close to you if you’re interested!]

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  1. says

    Joanna, Hi. I am just enjoying your interview with AmiMattison, and was interested in your comment that there is not much going on in spoken word in Brisbane. Are you aware of Speedpoets at Inspire cafe West End on the first Sunday afternoon of each month? I have just got into poetry and performance, and have found speedpoets to be very supportive.
    Love your accent. I am from Sussex.

    • says

      Thanks John. I guess I hadn’t really looked, but now I’m booked into the Qld poetry festival kickoff and also will have a look at that west end group. I might see you there! Thanks for letting me know.

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