Real stories, real people – Everybody Now!
Gran Slam

Gran Slam LIVE 2022 | Highlights

October is Seniors Month here in Queensland, a month-long celebration centered around social connections. October the 1st was also International Day of Older Persons and this year’s theme is “Resilience of Older Persons in a Changing World”.

We spent the weekend of the 1- 2 October at HOTA Home of the Arts and Redland Performing Arts Centre in South East Queensland, with a couple a dozen creative humans aged between 65 and 85 years young. They had been a part of an 8-week writing and performance program called Gran Slam, along with another 50 emerging older poets from across Australia.

We started Gran Slam in 2019 with the vision to use the form of slam poetry to amplify the voices of older Australians and provide a platform for critical connection and creatively for people aged over 65years – something that was a bit different from the standard offerings for aged recreation and leisure.

Like all of our projects, Gran Slam is artist-led and this year we had award winning writers and poets Josh Donellan (JD) and Angela Peita lead the writing workshops with special guest Aussie Hip Hop legend Morganics lead the performance workshops and the hilarious Jenny Wynter as our host.

Some of the participants are Gran Slam royalty, having participated annually since 2019. Many were new to Everybody NOW. Some were new, not only to writing, but to any form of creative expression.

Some participants were coming in a little vulnerable, with soft and unsure steps from recent curve balls life had thrown them. Some were ready to be cracked wide open and let the ‘art of noticing’, as JD describes, guide them to places of their heart that they had not yet discovered in their 70 + years. Some were there to grow and extend their existing wordsmith skills.

As the poets took to the stage, navigating the sometimes uncomfortable process of making theatre, the theme of resilience was not lost.

We heard poems about climate change, the environment, grief and loss, what would happen if there was more women in politics, changes to our bodies and minds and whimsical words that made us laugh out loud.

The tapestry of life that flowed through their words – hardiness alongside flexibility, reflection alongside vision, a spirit of strength alongside unbridled joy and openness to play – was the perfect representation of resilience.

Gran Slam Live 2022 was an entertaining afternoon of laughs, art, and social connection but it was also a beautiful reminder of the significant role older people play in our communities and how their knowledge and resilience can, and does, contribute to our changing world – If we listen!

By the by, it was a slam comp and there were winners. We voted with fruit, (obviously) and our winners were Jan Flower, Vincent Zaniewski, Colin Williams and Merv Murray.

You can read the winning poems here >