Enough Said About Hawraa, Brendan and Alice?

By Amanda Craig

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November is ending, but before it says farewell, Enough Said Poetry Slam have something extra special in store at Jane’s in Wollongong on Thursday 23. As part of the Wollongong Writers’ Festival, their gig is called "You’ve Changed", to fit the theme of the festival "Can words change the world?"

This month there is not one, but three feature artists. Hawraa Kash, Brendan Reed Dennis and Alice Tame will be performing new poetry that they have especially written for the night. These poems will reveal how words have changed their world.

Each artist brings their own unique style – from Hawraa’s emotive poetry on heritage and experiences, to Brendan’s relaxed and comedic performance. Doors open at 6pm and performances start at 7pm.

Talking to Hawraa and Brendan, they reveal who they are, what words have changed their world and give an in-depth look into their poetry.

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Q: You guys are a part of the triple feature artists at Enough Said Poetry Slam’s special event for the Wollongong Writers Festival. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your poetry?

Brendan: I've never fully subscribed to one artistic outlet. I'm constantly jumping between passions and trying to learn new skills, which accounts for my very brief and unsuccessful obsession with pen sketching and my recent impulse purchase of a banjo. I like finding a way to meaningfully incorporate all my skills into the shows that I do, especially guitar and juggling. Sadly, you won't be seeing any banjo this Thursday.

Hawraa: I like to joke that I’m a corporate drone by day and spoken word poet by night/every other time of day. My poetry has been cathartic and what I use to navigate my thoughts and feelings, my lived experiences and opinions. I’m a mental health advocate and explore this in my poetry, as well as my heritage, and challenging social constructs and taboos. I can’t deny the odd break up/love poem too.

Q: You have also written a poem based on the Wollongong Writers Festival’s theme "Can Words Change the World", which you are performing on the night. What words have changed your world?

Brendan: I grew up in a conservative part of NSW and moving to Melbourne's progressive north was a bigger cultural shock that I was expecting. I was faced with a lot of new and confronting ideas. There were a few amazing performers whose words truly changed my perspective and let me understand the world in a more empathetic way.

Hawraa: I’m a firm believer in the power of language and words, and people undermine things like grammar and punctuation and use words frivolously and I believe that’s a large factor in all the things wrong in the world and society. I fell in love with linguistics and etymology, understanding the origin of words and their historical evolution. It’s mind blowing to say the least and it instilled in me a new-found appreciation for the language we use in our everyday lives; how we communicate, and how our complicity has allowed the definition of words to morph.

Q: How did you become involved the spoken word scene?

Brendan: I dove headfirst in to the Melbourne scene with guns blazing. The community there is very welcoming so it took no time for me to feel involved as a contributor to the Melbourne Spoken Word scene.

Hawraa: I fell into spoken word poetry when I was going through a rough time in my life and needed to shake things up and explore new ways to reconnect with people and myself. When I attended my first poetry slam, I was blown away by the talent and raw emotion, that I was compelled beyond reason to get behind that mic. After my first performance, floodgates opened and unreconciled experiences and feelings just came rushing out. Poetry has since been my therapy, my way of healing and expressing myself, and most importantly, reclaiming my agency and a voice that many tried to stifle.

Q: What inspired you to take up poetry slam?

Brendan: I was performing on stage in small scale community productions from around four or five years old, so I've always looked for a stage. Spoken word was perfect for me because I got to perform regularly and I was able to create my own content and theatrical style.

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Q: Can you recall your first performance?

Brendan: My first real slam was in 2012 at Woodies Folk Festival. I won $500 in prize money, which was enough for me to resettle (almost) comfortably in Melbourne.

Hawraa: Definitely, it was my first ever spoken word poem and it was written about my grandfather that had passed away a couple of months before that performance. It was at the Bankstown Poetry Slam and the atmosphere and crowd were so welcoming and accepting. I had people come up to me afterward telling me they saw themselves in my words, my poem had moved them, some were in tears, and that connection with those strangers was so electric and empowering, it’s what drives me to keep sharing and not fear the vulnerability.

Q: Is this your first time performing in Wollongong? What do you love about different spoken word scenes?

Brendan: I've made the trip out to Wollongong a handful of times to perform as part of the open mic. I've loved it! In Melbourne, you have six events a week. It's great, but there is less anticipation. Around Sydney, every gig is packed out with keen and excited audience members. 

Hawraa: Yes it is, and I am very excited to experience the atmosphere because every room and audience has a very different vibe to it. You learn a great deal more when you expose yourself to the different communities within the spoken word scene. You learn what resonates and matters to different people and it broadens your perspective; and if anything, potentially impact and improve the quality of your writing.

Q: What messages or morals do you strive to convey to your audience through your poetry?   

Brendan: That's a big question. Honestly, I'm just out to give my audience a good time. I want to entertain people. Above all else, I hope that my audiences will laugh and relax during my performances.

Hawraa: My main point is, I can never write to experiences that I know not of. I can never speak on behalf of anything or write to a theme that I cannot personally identify. My poetry has been my strongest tool to navigate my identity, challenge social constructs and taboos, and tackle the conversations that matter to me. It’s that authenticity that resonates most with people and is the most fulfilling, and that’s what I hope others do with their poetry.

Written by SCWC

Posted on November 21, 2017