Enough Said About Lorin Elizabeth?

Interview by Suzie Harris

Lorin Elizabeth 2

Photo courtesy of Lorin Elizabeth.

“Spoken word poetry is the art of performance poetry. I tell people it involves creating poetry that doesn’t just want to sit on paper, that something about it demands to be heard out loud or witnessed in person.”
(Sarah Kay 2011, TEDTalk)

There is something quite extraordinary about sitting in the audience for the first time at a spoken word poetry event. Something special occurs when these poets, these artists, take away your breath but make you click your fingers in praise. The rhythmic buzz of words and syncopated punch-lines demand your attention to everything from the story of boy meets girl to the Australian National Anthem. Lorin Elizabeth, 26, is a spoken word poet whose pieces deal with themes such as these – her poetry is poignant, honest and offers a unique glimpse into the world of spoken word poetry. She is the co-founder and co-host of the Enough Said Poetry Slam, which is celebrating its fourth anniversary 21 July at Jane’s Café in Wollongong. Lorin was a featured poet in – and is currently MC for – the SCWC’s very own Say It Sing It events. Taking a break from her busy schedule, Lorin was kind enough to sit down for an interview with us.

Q. What inspired you to create such an awesome local event and what do you think events like these do for the local creative writing community?

Luka Lesson, Joel McKerrow and Alia Gabres did a poetry show and workshop in Wollongong in 2012 and my uni pal Sherry Landow invited me to check it out. It opened my mind to the power and beauty of spoken word poetry and I was totally hooked... But it was a one-time thing; they moved on to the next city and we were left wanting more. 

So a fellow attendee (Slam Mama) Laura E Goodin started a monthly event at Yours and Owls (now Rad) so that we could share poems all the time. Sherry and I took over after the first few events and I've been on board ever since. So basically it was a selfish motivation (haha). We just wanted more poetry!

I think Enough Said offers a space for writers to gain confidence as performers and public speakers; it offers them a real live and engaged community to discuss with, get feedback from and hang out with. In a very practical way, we offer writing and performance workshops and paid feature spots for emerging performing poets.

I think it's really important to look beyond the creative writing community too. Enough Said offers people who are into songwriting or theatre or bricklaying an accessible way to access poetry, and some really beautiful collaborations and poets have emerged from that accessibility.

Enough Said July 21 2016

Poster courtesy of Madi Ryan – Art & Illustration

Q. You’re originally from the Wollongong area, but have also travelled to places like the United States. How has hailing from a local community as well the experiences of travelling impacted your poetry?

I grew up in Thirroul and I think living in a small, safe and artistic coastal town and being able to travel to big and inspiring places is the greatest gift life has offered so far. I'm so super lucky. I've had so many new experiences. I've met so many people and experienced a bunch of different communities and cultures. My poetry is a mash-up of hip-hop's rhyme and rhythm that I discovered traipsing the USA and the gentle everyday imagery and imagination nurtured by Thirroul and the lifestyle I grew up in.

The first time I experienced spoken word was when my uni professor in the USA paid for us to see Louder Than A Bomb, a film about poetry slam in high schools in Chicago. It's amazingly empowering. I think I started writing my first poems after that but never properly considered getting involved in the community as a writer or organiser until I got home six months later and realised that yes, spoken word was a thing here in Australia too!

Last year I lived in NYC and after returning home to Thirroul this year, I have this intense pride about being from the South Coast and a re-ignited passion to create creative communities and opportunities for writers here with heaps of experience from travelling to back me up!

I also totally have a bunch of travel poems in the works, haha.

Lorin Elizabeth 1

Photo courtesy of Lorin Elizabeth.

Q. You recently celebrated a birthday and have accomplished a lot as a young poet. What advice would you give to young or aspiring poets who perhaps may not know where to start in the world of spoken word poetry?

Just come to a poetry slam!! The world of poetry is kind of isolating. Especially if you're writing and submitting for publication online (and probably getting rejected because that's just what happens) over and over again from inside of your bedroom. Enough Said is a place to let off steam and have fun as well as meeting really important people in the community and being inspired by other people's words.

Our current Enough Said team is made up of me and two younger poets who turned up one slam, and kept turning up and now they run the joint! Shout out to Kate Pimblett and Bella Luna.

And if you're really not into spoken word, find a regular open mic to try your words out, create a workshopping group that meets for coffee every month, start a poetry book club, hang out at the South Coast Writers Centre. I think the more you get out and talk to people about what you're doing, the more opportunities (and enjoyment) you'll find.

Oh and subscribe to Button Poetry on YouTube

Q. What can be seen in the horizon of Lorin Elizabeth? What's next for you?

This Saturday I'm programming our awesome feature poet Desireé Dallagiacomo's Sydney show at a secret location in The Rocks! And then we're off to Alice Springs for the Red Dirt Poetry Festival at the end of July! I'll be leading workshops and performing all weekend. 

I'm also performing at and running some cool events with Enough Said for the Wollongong Writers Festival in November so keep an eye out for that!

Written by SCWC

Posted on July 21, 2016