From beginner to state champion: how Justin found slam poetry
Logan’s Justin Geange only discovered the art of slam poetry relatively recently – but, already, his talent has seen him take to the Sydney Opera House to perform in the national finals of the Australian Poetry Slam.
‘I had an awesome time,’ he says.
‘It’s amazing to be onstage with such incredible spoken word poets and really good people. Being new to slam poetry, making the finals was very cool.
‘I’ve already started to look towards next year and think about new material I can put together. I’ve got 67 ideas for poems on my Notes app on my phone at the moment.
‘The biggest thing for me is my words resonate with someone or make them feel better today, that’s what it is all about. We all have a story; we can all write verse – why not give it a crack?’
Justin, who works in construction and is also a peer support worker in the space of mental health and suicide prevention, says he has always loved poetry, but bush poetry was his usual go-to. A friend who saw some of his work on YouTube said he should try slam poetry earlier this year.
‘Bush poetry is very different. Slam poetry is unformed, it is about speaking the words: it’s basically your thoughts on a piece of paper without any set rhythm or rhyme necessarily; it’s sharing an impassioned view of the world and engaging a crowd,’ Justin says.
‘All of my stuff comes from experience, and it’s a balance of light and shade, to try and normalise what can sometimes be tricky subjects.
‘I’ve been through tough times but for all my challenges I am still here, so I work from a standpoint of surplus. It has been cathartic and helped me articulate stuff I wouldn’t normally be able to articulate.’
As well using poetry to work through feelings, Justin also uses the everyday as inspiration.
‘I’ve been in the construction industry for 30 years – there are so many characters and funny people in that space, there is some real gold in terms of how people use our language, and the stories people tell,’ he says.
‘Everyone has a story in them that’s worth sharing. The world is a canvas, whether the way you express yourself is through written or spoken work, visual art, or dancing down the street – it’s all art.
‘We live in such an incredible part of the world; I just love the creativity in our little city Logan.
‘There are so many gifted people here and I honestly believe a lot of young people have so much talent and it is about nurturing that – spoken word, rap, music, dance – so we are definitely very fortunate. ‘
Logan Libraries partners with Queensland Poetry each year to hold a poetry slam workshop and regional heat event in Logan. Extraction Artisan Café, located in Slacks Creek, has generously supported the Logan heat event over the past few years.
For more information about Justin and the other Queensland winners, head here.