Melbourne Overload

Together with Down by the River, this walk was commissioned by the Overload Poetry Festival and, overloaded is perfect word for this walk. Given that we’re going from heartbroken train station to the centre of “the world” to Crossways for vegetarian before breaking hearts at both Tattersalls Ln and the Victoria Market, you’ll probably need a good lie down after this one.

Luka Lesson

Luka Lesson (born Luke Haralampou) is a spoken word poetry and music artist of Greek heritage from Australia. Luka’s debut book, “The Future Ancients” is now a best-seller for poetry in Australia and a part of educational programs from Hong Kong to Melbourne.

Luka has written commissions and performed for the likes of The National Gallery of Victoria, Greece’s pioneer Hip-hop group Active Member, South Africa’s OneBlood Festival and China’s most celebrated living poet Xi Chuan in Beijing. He is also the Australian Poetry Slam Champion of 2011 and Melbourne Poetry Slam Champion of 2010.

Alia Gabres

Alia Gabres is a Melbourne based spoken word artist who strives to tell the stories that are yet to be told. She looks for the magnificent in every reluctant voice, believing nothing is more beautiful than a sincere word. Alia is currently curating a poetry explorations series entitled ‘Tell It Like It Is’ at the Footscray Arts Centre. She is also a workshop facilitator for the Center of Poetics and Justice.

Betsy Turcot

Betsy hails originally from the United States and since relocating to Brisbane, she has contributed her words, her heart and her passion to the city’s vibrant spoken word scene.  Betsy featured at the 2010 Queensland Poetry Festival as a member of The Broken Records Collective “Just Like Me” and was co-author of the poetic play “She Stole My Every Rock and Roll”. With her fresh delivery style, Betsy was a finalist in the Nimbin Performance Poetry Cup. With a BA in English literature, she brings a considered measure to the slam performance genre and is committed to teaching diversity through performance poetry.

Geoff Lemon

Geoff Lemon is co-editor of Going Down Swinging, one of Australia’s longest-running and most idiosyncratic literary/arts anthologies, and the only Australian publisher to also produce spoken word CDs and digital media editions. Before that he was poetry editor of harvest and Voiceworks magazines. Geoff founded Wordplay Collective in 2006, which runs spoken word performances in Australia, and maintains an archive of recordings at Wordplay.

A multiple and mostly retired slam winner, he has performed at shows and festivals across Australia and overseas, been broadcast numerous times on national radio, and supported music acts like TZU, Sietta, Joelistics, True Live, Paris Wells, and The Church’s Steve Kilbey. On the page his poems and stories are widely published in the likes of Best Australian Stories, HEAT, Griffith Review, and Island. His first book, Sunblind, was published in 2008.

He works as a freelance journalist, essayist, and editor, writing social and political commentary for outlets like The Punch and the ABC’s The Drum, as well as writing on music (MTV, RHUM), the arts (Beat), sport (The Roar), and literature (The Book Show). He also writes the controversial blog Heathen Scripture.

Jessica Alice

Jessica Alice hosts Spoken Word on 3CR 855AM community radio and is the Poetry Editor for Voiceworks magazine. She is currently writing her Honours thesis on the work of contemporary American poet Johanna Drucker. Jessica was Assistant Editor of Divan – Australia’s first online poetry journal – in 2007. She has performed her poetry for the Emerging Writers and Overload Poetry Festivals – making her debut at the Abottsford Convent in 2008 and winning The Spinning Room’s performers place in 2010. She has recently enjoyed recurring features at ‘Tell It Like It Is’ at the Footscray Community Arts Centre, and was commissioned to write a modern poetic interpretation of Little Red Riding Hood for the Cost of Horror collective’s exhibition ‘Kinderspiel’ at The Owl and the Pussycat. Jessica is a regular contributor of literary news and highbrow gossip on Triple R’s Aural Text, and performs her poems wherever there is a bar and not necessarily a mic.

Tariro Mavondo

Prior to commencing the Bachelor of Dramatic Arts at the VCA, Tariro Mavondo began a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Politics and Anthropology. During this time she was also working as an artist with international and nationally established bands at festivals such as the World Music Festival in Adelaide, Big Day out and the World Music Expo (Arts centre).

Tariro got a taste of the theatre when she performed as an actor and dancer in Claudia Escobar’s final VCA Animateuring piece Play: Ground (2008).

At the VCA Tariro’s major roles have been Nina in The Seagull 2009, Blair in Perfume, Underwear and Crash Helmet (2010) and Ariel in Shakespeare’s the Tempest (2011). Tariro has worked as an actor with the VCA Centre of Cultural Partnerships Horn of Africa program that toured a group devised piece to schools and community centres around Victoria in 2010.

Tariro is also a founding member and workshop facilitator of the Centre for Poetics and Justice. Tariro is also a founding member and project manager of Still Waters African Women’s Storytelling Collective.

Tariro was a state finalist at the 2009 Australian Poetry Slam.Tariro was the national runner up at the 2010 Australian Poetry Slam.

Down by the River

The Yarra River, or Birrarung as it was originally known, is at the geographical and psychological heart of the city: this is where it begins and, sometimes, ends. This time around, four poets who have relocated to this fair city stand at different vantage points contemplating the same body of water. Try not to drown.

Omar Musa

Omar Musa is a Malaysian-Australian author, rapper and poet from Queanbeyan, Australia. He is the former winner of the Australian Poetry Slam and the Indian Ocean Poetry Slam. He has released four hip hop records, three poetry books (including “Parang” and “Millefiori”), appeared on ABC’s Q&A and received a standing ovation at TEDx Sydney at the Sydney Opera House. His debut novel “Here Come the Dogs” was published by Penguin Australia in 2014. “Here Come the Dogs” was long-listed for the International Dublin Literary Award and Miles Franklin Award and he was named one of the Sydney Morning Herald’s Young Novelists of the Year in 2015. He is currently working on a novel that is set in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Bronwyn Lovell

Bronwyn Lovell is an emerging poet and spoken word performer. Her poetry has been featured on RRR, SYN FM, 3CR Community Radio, and Melbourne Community Television Channel 31. She has had work published in Swamp, Antipodes, ZineWest, Positive Words Magazine, and Paradise Anthology. Bronwyn has a writing residency at Kinfolk Cafe as part of Australian Poetry’s national Cafe Poets Program and she is a workshop facilitator for the Centre for Poetics and Justice. She was the first Australian to compete in the Women of the World Poetry Tournament in Columbus, Ohio, in March 2011. Bronwyn has a Masters in Creative Writing, and a Bachelor in English and Film Studies from the University of Sydney. She is currently completing Honours in Cinema and Creative Writing at the University of Melbourne. Besides poetry and film, her interests include storytelling, comics and linguistics.

Amy Bodossian

Critically acclaimed Cabaret star and spoken word artist Amy Bodossian is an eccentric and unforgettable performer who has been captivating audiences for over fifteen years with her unique blend of song, spoken word and comedy.

She’s appeared on ABC’s Spicks and Specks and Please Like Me, performed at major festivals across Australia and headlined most of Melbourne’s major poetry events. She’s been nominated for a prestigious Green Room Award, won the SA Young Women Writers’ Award, and came runner up in the 2016 Melbourne Spoken Word Prize.

Her one woman shows have received rave reviews- ****1/2 – The Advertiser ****1/2 – Glam Adelaide ****1/2 – Clothesline Mag ‘pure genius’ – The Scotsman ‘entrancing… utterly beautiful and heart wrenching.. – Stage Whispers. ‘There isn’t a pigeonhole in existence that could possibly hold Amy Bodossian. No warning, no apologies. ‘- FINGER MAGAZINE Amy has just released her much anticipated debut book, ‘Wide Open’, published by Outside The Box press

Joel McKerrow

Joel McKerrow is a writer, speaker, educator, community arts worker and one of Australia’s most successful internationally touring performance poets. Based out of Melbourne, Australia he is the Artist Ambassador for the aid and development organisation ‘TEAR Australia’ and was the co-founder of community arts organisation, ‘The Centre for Poetics and Justice’ (2010-2013). Joel was the third ever Australian representative at the Individual World Poetry Slam Championships in the USA (2012) and has performed in venues like The Nuyorican Poets Cafe and Bowery Poetry Club (NYC), The Sydney Opera House, The Forum (Melbourne), The Metropolis (Montreal), Victoria Parliament House and many more. He is a TEDx speaker and performer and is also the frontman poet from the band, ‘Joel McKerrow & the Mysterious few’. Joel also spends much of his time running poetry workshops within schools and other organisations around poetry, creativity, identity, social justice and spirituality.

Joel has been touring extensively throughout Australia and the world (USA, UK, EUROPE, NEW ZEALAND) over the last few years on the Global Poetics tour (2011), the Please Resist Me tour (2012), the Soles of Australia tour (2012), the One Foot in the Clay global tour (2012-13) and the These Wandering Feet tour (2013). Throughout this time he has performed alongside such poetry greats as Anis Mojgani, Shane Koyczan, Sarah Kay, Phil Kaye, Ken Arkind, Buddy Wakefield, Mahogany Brown, Jive Poetic, Carrie Rudzinski and Luka Lesson.

With a passionate performance style he has been commended by Canadian performance poet Shane Koyczan as, ‘an exceptional spoken word artist…fiercely political and humane’. And by the Australian National Poetry Slam Champion, Luka Lesson, as, ‘a true leader in Australia’s performance poetry scene…A man who can tear a roof down with his performances and bring tears with his subtle eloquence’. Brian McLaren (Author and activist) has also said, ‘In a time when politics, theology, and other important avenues of human intercourse suffer from a flatness of prose and a vacuum of meaning, Joel walks on stage just when we need him, sounding off with all the craft of a first-rate poet and all the verve of a first-rate performer.’

Joel, in 2012, released his first published book Beyond Rhetoric – Writings in the Tradition of Kahlil Gibran (published by UNOH publishing with foreword by Fr. Richard Rohr) and his debut spoken word album One Foot in the Clay. In 2013 he released his second spoken word album and first straight book of poetry both named These Wandering Feet: Reflection from a travelling pilgrim (released through The Poatina Tree label).

The Stately Strut

Surrounded by the chaos of the marketplace, look for teenagers with infected ear piercings.  You might not find them, but at least you’ll have a hot jam donut. Maybe they’re waiting for you, sunbaking on the lawns and checking their phones. Either that, or they’re shopping their little hearts out for the Queen’s Jubilee. We could be completely wrong, maybe they’ve just taken their red capes to escape the rain. Who knows. How do you remember it?


This is one for those who are old enough to stay up late. If you can get past the bouncers, you might just get into the coolest club that used to be. Of course, then you might just get kicked out of the coolest club that never was and miss your tram. Kill time in the late hours, contemplating if you should give your tram fare to the world’s worst busker. Find somewhere open all hours and go out onto the roof and remember just how glamorous you used to think this place was going to be. As soon as you grew up.

Writings on the Wall

Start on a side street and come and acknowledge the statue-less writers who live in dreams. Come edit your identity like generations before you, play with your hyphens in public. Swan about a seedy street corner where no one’s going to try and sell you anything illicit. Anymore. Nor will they call you to let you know when the war ends. After all, you two already broke up.


In a city this teeming with stories, don’t be surprised if you find them creeping up from the  drains, lurking in subways and peeping through the cracks in the concrete and bitumen. Find out what those critters with the lamps on their heads are doing after the commuters go home and then find out just what you’re looking at. Take yourself off to the wrong side of the tracks to see the dirty river holding up a blue fish. Find the real Melbourne beneath fruitshop smiles. This walk feels good late at night. If you’re brave enough.

Sean M Whelan

Sean M Whelan is a writer from Northcote. He has published two books of poetry, Love is the New Hate and Tattooing the Surface of the Moon. He programs Babble, a long running spoken word event in Melbourne and is one of the co-coordinators of Liner Notes, a series of readings that are spoken word tributes to iconic albums. Sean also performs his poetry and stories with a band called The Interim Lovers. An album by the Interim Lovers called ‘Softly & Suddenly’ will be released in October 2010. In 2009 he toured North America and was one of the co-writers and performers of Elemental, a show combining Poetry and Science at the Melbourne Planetarium, which held a sold out season at the Melbourne International Arts Festival.

Steve Smart

Steve Smart is a young Melbourne writer, performance poet MC and festival organiser. He was a founding Director of the Overload Poetry Festival, one of Australia’s leading poetry festivals which is now in its tenth year of bringing an explosive mix of spoken word and performance poetry to Melbourne. In addition to his work with Overload, Steve has appeared in print, on stage and television, on the stage at the Opera House, in the Sunday Herald Sun and on 774 ABC Melbourne. He has been featured as an ABC Noise artist and his spoken word album Ain’t That a Kick in the Head was featured on Triple J unearthed. A regular facilitator of poetry workshops, Steve Smart is as Melbourne as black overcoats; Nick Cave; coffee on Lygon St; the 86 tram; waiting under the clocks on the steps of Flinders St Station; poetry on Saturday afternoons at The Dan; and not giving a stuff about the Grand Prix.

Santo Cazzati

Santo Cazzati is a spoken word artist. The son of Italian immigrants to Australia, he emerged from  past lives as a classical concert pianist and avant garde jazz musician to teach at an elite Melbourne private school which must remain anonymous in order to protect those concerned. He performs in a range of styles, from fast rhythmical delivery to slow atmospheric meditation, often with a strong world music influence and critical ironic distance. His is a fixture on Melbourne’s grass roots poetry scene, a presenter of 3CR’s Spoken Word radio programme and appears on Going Down Swinging and Voiceprints CDs.

Randall Stephens

Randall $tephens is the last angry man, he was the first one too.  He doesn’t suffer fools. He doesn’t ride a bike that doesn’t have brakes. He doesn’t get stuck in traffic. He doesn’t use phrase like ‘l-o-l” and doesn’t tell people about his new kettle on facebook.  He does not believe in fairies (plop!).  He doesn’t play nice with the other poets.  Randall $tephens does write poetry, He writes about all dinosaurs and cycling and travelling and breasts and being angry and being happy and sex at inappropriate times. He performs. Well. He does come from Melbourne.

He is on his way.

Nathan Curnow

Nathan Curnow is an award-winning poet, performer and past editor of Going Down Swinging. His previous books include The Ghost Poetry Project, RADAR, and The Right Wrong Notes. His most recent collection The Apocalypse Awards (2016) is inspired by the absurdity of the modern world and charts our collective obsession with the end times. He is a recipient of the Josephine Ulrick Poetry Prize, teaches creative writing at Federation University, and is a co-host of the Youtube series Cooking Classic Poems. He now lives in Ballarat and is a regular swimmer of the pool’s black line. For more of his work, check out his classic poetry cooking show.

Meaghan Bell

Meaghan has been writing poetry since 2005. She has featured at the Spinning Room, The Court House Readings, Passionate Tongues, Saturdays at the Dan O’Connell and the Drunken Poet. She has also performed previously in the Overload Festival and has been recorded for the Channel 31 program ‘Red Lobster’. In 2008 Meaghan wrote and performed with Geoff Lemon, Anthony W.P. O’Sullivan, Ben Pobje and Steve Smart in ‘Under a Neon Globe’ in the Melbourne Fringe festival. Meaghan wrote reviews for RHUM during the 2010 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. She recently attended the Goolwa ‘Salt on the Tongue’ Writer’s Festival where she performed in the show case SLAM and ‘Plan Be’ with Randal Stephens and Steve Smart.

Maxine Clarke

Maxine Clarke is a West Indian-Australian writer, slam poet and freelance journalist. She has written for many publications, including The Age, The Big Issue, Good Reading, Australian Art Collector and The Koori Mail. Maxine’s poetry examines the experiences of African descendants in the ‘new world’. She is the 2006 title holder of the NSW Writer’s Centre/Gleebooks Poetry Sprint, had placed second in the Doris Leadbetter Poetry Cup (2007) and the Northern Notes Poetry Slam (2007), and is a finalist in the Melbourne Writers Festival Poetry Slam (2008). Maxine’s poetry and short plays have been published, performed and broadcast nationally

Maurice McNamara

Maurice McNamara has had several poems recently published in Blue Dog and Going Down Swinging. He’s been a regular contributor to the Moving Galleries’ haiku and short poems on Melbourne trains project. Casually lyrical, funny but serious, he aims for a down-to-earth, contemporary feel. He likes Melbourne’s dagginess, and believes the sort of crowds the Melbourne Cup draws, and the fact that AFL grew up here, make it a great city for literature. His book, Half Hour Country (Small Change Press 2009), has been described as ‘courageous, witty, wry, tough and alive – truly free verse’.

Luis Gonzalez Serrano

Luis Gonzalez Serrano is a Melbourne poet born in El Salvador who came to Australia in 1988 as a refugee. He is a radio journalist, writer and cultural producer. In 2003 he founded, along with two mates, Salt-lick Quarterly, a well regarded poetry journal. In 2005 he published a book, Cities with Moveable Parts (NSW Poets Union Publications). He has been involved in the Melbourne poetry scene since 2002, and directly or indirectly with the Melbourne Overload Poetry Festival, of which he is now Artistic Director.

Lish Skec

Lish is a Melbourne poet and musician. She writes plays, short stories, comedy and songs for adults and children. She has been published in several countries around the world. Virtual and hard copy. Lish currently has two books Butterflies of New Dawn 1996 and Leather Skin 2002 and has performed at many venues including Parliament House. Lish loves family, friends, art, nature, fire twirling, exercising, singing, reading, thinking and sewing.

Josephine Rowe

Josephine Rowe’s poetry and short fiction have been published in Overland, Island, Best Australian Poems, Going Down Swinging, Torpedo, Readings and Motherlode anthologies, and read on Radio National’s Poetica and The Book Show. Her collection of short stories, How a Moth Becomes a Boat, is available through Hunter Publishers. Read more at

John McKelvie

John has poems published in various anthologies including “Best Australian Poems” but enjoys live performance and can often be found propping up the bar at Dan Poets on a Saturday afternoon. He Studied law, has a background in supporting the underdog and writes in a variety of styles that can make folk laugh and cry almost simultaneously.

James Jackson

James Jackson is the self-proclaimed “Monster of Poetry” and one of the most controversial Melbourne poets of recent years. A former professional wrestler, musician and actor, Jackson performs poetry wherever will still book him. These performances often contain confrontational elements which have divided his fellow poets and poetry audiences alike. You have been warned.

Emilie Zoey Baker

Emilie Zoey Baker is a multi award-winning poet and slam champion who, in 2009, toured workshops and performances throughout Canada, and in New York and Chicago. She is the spoken word editor for ‘Cordite’ and the Victorian coordinator for the National Australian Poetry Slam. She is the author of ‘She Wore The Sky On Her Shoulders’. Recently she performed in the sold out world premiere of ‘Elemental’, poetry at the Planetarium in the 2009 Melbourne International Arts Festival.

Bella Li

Bella Li is an Australian-Chinese poet whose work has been published in Meanjin, Cordite and the Paradise Poetry Anthology. She was placed third in the inaugural Poetry Idol competition at the Melbourne Writers Festival 2007. She is currently studying and after hours she is also an editorial assistant and proofreader.

Anthony O’Sullivan

Anthony is a Melbourne-based poet, musician, performer and MC extraordinaire. He hosts the awesome Owl and Cat readings and has featured at various local and interstate events. Anthony wants to live in a city where the weather is decisive. Where each day assassinates the one before. We’re not sure what keeps him in this city.

Alicia Sometimes

Alicia Sometimes is a writer, poet and broadcaster. She is a regular guest on ABC 774 and Radio National. She is also part of the Aussie Rules Football podcast, The Outer Sanctum and has appeared in ABC TV’s Sunday Arts and ABC News Breakfast. She was a 2014 Fellow at the State Library of Victoria and was a writer and director of the science-poetry show, Elemental that has toured extensively. Alicia co-edited and written for From the Outer: Footy Like You’ve Never Heard It (2016) and A Footy Girl’s Guide To the Stars of 2017 (2017) with Nicole Hayes.