Video transcript
Poetry Slam 2023 - State Final

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[intro music]

ANNABEL LIM: Your actions should not be for yourself

But should be cut up and served, ready for consumption

I'll invite you to dine with me tonight

'It must be so easy to love girls considering you're queer

It's a privilege I wish I could have

It's just seemingly so sincere'

It'll be a fabulous night when the dinner arrives

Table's prepped and the napkins folded

My carcass will have been thawed out,

And the appetisers, trollied in,

My mother,

When you consumed me, you spat me out,

How was I supposed to explain

I was the cause for this indescribable pain

She sat opposite of me told the disappointments that would be

All the sacrifices she had made had been in vain


Tore my flesh apart in hopes to feel liberated

If I lied to myself; added more sugar than necessary

Then the rot inside my limbs could be marinated

Then maybe, just maybe, I could be digestible

Or because when I was 13 I loved too much

Now I can only stand put and stay

Concealed I'm roadkill disguised as a 5-course meal

Hoping to hide my maggot-filled organs

It only matters if I'm presentable and digestible

There is no luxury in imbibing on my suffering

With an excess of salt, it remains incontestable

There is no aperitif to make it go down easier this time

It's a hedonistic sin that I've committed

The gluttony that gnaws my bones

Mother I apologise and I don't want to be left uneaten

Please don't call for the chef

Please let me go on

Don't return me to the kitchen

Mother I'm sorry

I'm sorry for committing such sinful acts

Temptation is stubborn in its ways

And I don't expect for your forgiveness


How was I meant to refuse when she cut into me

My flesh is pliant to a knife

And I can satisfy her sole, yearning hunger

To understand I could be wanted for my rot

And reciprocate that same desire for her

I am not fit for consumption

And I wish I were

My lieve heart will continue to beat on her platter

Savour had else been regurgitated

Consume my soul, lick the plate clean

Ask for seconds-- for my love is all that matters

Take my lungs for the main course

Gouge out my liver for dessert

Allow my blood to be the chaser

I ache for freedom but it cannot be forced

I can feel the worms

Chewing through my stomach

Is this the punishment I get for indulging myself

I should not be consumed

I'm overwhelmed with guilt

My love is leftovers and scraps

Don't feed me to the dogs

It's decaying and I've nothing left now

I've poured and poured

No libation can cure this inexplicable thirst

No fly will feast on me

No mother will cherish the

Rotting corpse that is served upon her plate

And yet it's the part of me that wants to keep going and going

How far I can push and push myself into this self-destructive consumption

Longing for the natural desire to be understood

It's the only way I can find myself to function

I want to be loved in the most human way possible

But my mother

Oh my mother

Please tell me I'm not as forgettable

As your silence is making me feel

With grotesque burden of your wants

The reality I was not palatable to your taste

A fabulous night it will be no longer

I want to feel alive

This is consumption

Thank you.

TIMOTHY HOLMES: Fabulous-- adjective, extraordinary, especially extraordinarily large

Perfect-- adjective, having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics

As good as it is possible to be

Flaws-- noun, a mark, blemish or other imperfection which mars a substance or object

From day one we are taught that our flaws

Are our impossible walls

Barricades to who we want to be

From day one we are taught that perfection is what we need to strive for


To the fire that ignites our being

From day one, we are taught that idealism

Is admirable


For clawing at something we will never get to hold.

From day one we are taught not by our teachers but the ones who can reach us, but by strangely named apps designed to seep into us

Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook what's in a name?

Snappy, catchy, our lives are their own marketing cycle

From day one, we're trained to believe that our bodies, our faces, our very selves aren't good enough

So we suck it in

Lather on the makeup

Make self-deprecating jokes because ha-ha, the issues we have with ourselves are so


We conform and behave in certain ways because that's how we are raised that's what's expected of us

Conform-- verb, behaving according to socially acceptable conventions or standards

Conforming to find that drive in us that fire, that fuel, that is deep inside of us

Conforming, aligning our attitudes, beliefs and behaviours with those people around us

We follow a crowd of people that we don't even agree with. What's in it for us?

Conforming to the norms forced upon us. Us, a collective, our individual identity gone

With our identity gone, it won't be long before we even cease to exist, now that's a twist, our

Future shrouded in the cloak of conformity

Conformity pushes down the 12-year-old girl crying as she pinches her sides hoping to relieve the pain of not being accepted

Conformity pushes down the 15-year-old boy working himself up until he throws up

In search of the body of an Instagram model that will never show up

Conformity pushes down you and me, the generation exposed to the realities of the media from day one

The generation where everyone has put themselves down, 15% of women will experience an eating disorder in their lifetime

It's up to us, the generation where everyone has put themselves down, a vast majority of us can remember our first experience with self-hate at the age of 9 or earlier

This is about us, the generation where everyone has put themselves down in a joking manner because making fun of our flaws distracts us from the piercing pain that is our existence

But we can't let conformity win

We have to be the ones who didn't just get through it, the ones that survived

We have to be the game changers, the miracle workers, the providers of hope

We have to be the ones to raise our hands and see we are worth it because we are worth it

We have to be the ones to embrace imperfection

It's up to us, we can be the change

The ones who raise their children to know that their blemishes, their scars make them who they are

We have to be the ones who put a stop to the rot, that measurement that's the sum of all that we aspire to be

We can create a generation of self-confident individuals, more importantly, we can be a generation of self-confident individuals

And if you don't believe that we can, I assure you we can as every single person in this very room has a beautiful heart and a beautiful mind, a mind that's ours because we make it ours

We can be proud of our faces, our bodies, our personalities because we want to be all that we are

This is about us

Our future begins the second we can stop the rot and appreciate each person for how unique and beautiful they are

In the vast canvas of life, David Bowie emerged a singular starman, unbound and diverged

He was true to himself, authentic, and real, and that self-belief was his appeal

No need to be manly or follow the crowd

He ignored the outline pre-drawn from his birth and carved a new image that celebrated his worth

The portrait has been completed when everyone here can confidently say that they believe in the potential that they know they have, when everyone here can exit this room with a newfound sense of self-love

Our future begins with us

Acceptance-- noun, the process or face of being received as adequate

Or maybe, just maybe, fabulous

Thank you.

EMILY SCHRODER: I was born with this flame ignited in my chest.

Recently, the flame burned through my ribs like a wildfire doused in gasoline.

I believe it had grown tired of burning me from the inside out.

It had grown tired of being locked away in a barbed wire cage nestled between my spine and rib cage.

It grew tired of the torrential winds of girlhood constantly trying to blow it out.

My body could no longer contain its scalding ferocity, so it spilled out of the hole in my face.

I was born with this flame ignited in my chest, and it started with merely a spark.

Sad, little girls dressed in blue sitting on a grassless field.

The reality of girlhood has just hit them.

The flame announced its presence, the barbed wire cage wrapped deeper around her heart.

She knew that is where it would stay.

The flame would send tendrils of smoke to her voice box.

It burned, but her presence was not something that demanded to be felt or heard.

Girlhood was not another's burden to bear.

And most of all, it was not a man's burden to bear.

One of the first lessons of girlhood.

She learnt that the reality of girlhood was not as fabulous as the lives of her Barbie dolls tucked away in a pink bedroom.

Her corner of the world, where it was OK to just exist as a girl.

The one place where girlhood could be fun, not just another responsibility.

That little girl grew into me.

Now when I raise my voice, I don't helplessly watch it shatter on the ground,

For now I'm a dragon who embraces the flame.

The charred remains of the timid mouse lays limp underground.

I was born with this flame ignited in my chest.

I spent my girlhood trying to keep it controlled,

Keep the fire dimmed so that it would never burn anyone but myself.

I'm starting to think I was born with the flame because I was supposed to start a fire.

Sometimes I think my rage is my mother's.

It was passed onto me when her universe expanded beyond herself and she had no place to keep it.

Now I carry it for her.

I carry her rage in my chest wherever I go.

I believe the pinnacle of girlhood is holding on,

To our mothers, her rage and her unspoken dreams,

To a childhood that is ripped out from beneath our feet,

To the girls we became women with,

To the universe and the hope of it all,

Even under the feet of our gods.

We were born with this flame ignited in our chests.

Maybe we will set the world alight so a better one can rise.

Perhaps we are not girls but gods.

Perhaps that is why our voices land on silent ears.

Perhaps that is what will destroy us.

Girlhood is being born with a flame inside.

Watch us set the world on fire.

REBECCA JU: It slips through her fingers like sand

She feels it here, embers digging in like knives

But there's nothing in her hands

Can you hear it falling?

Like skydiving with no parachute and no plane

Just emptiness that won't stop sprawling

Each grain, red hot iron, like the red hot blood scorching through her veins

She's a smart girl, intelligent, creative, determined, ambitious, fabulous, fabulous, fabulous,

Smiles and teeth and tongues lashing out like chains

And she's losing her grip, staring at this mountain she's supposed to grasp

But if she surrenders to the fire, what's left of her but ash

Through her wrists to her shoulders to her ankles to her heart, they say words can never hurt

Clearly, they've never played the part

There's a welded glass sculpture of who she's meant to be

But there's no map, no lines to show the way, no door, no lock, no key

Will the coarse grains wear her down until her fingerprints lose their edges

Bury her knees until what's left of her are dredges dragging her under a desert sea

Until she's gasping for breath and ceases to be

The embers burn her oxygen, consuming all she knows

What did they say again? That lie about how pain can make you grow

I can sit here forever tracing patterns long followed

I can drive forever to chase the identity she borrowed

I can stand on a stage and hear a million ovations

With my parents watching me pour out my heart in cadence

But is it worth it building these small sand castles of acknowledgments

To hear that fabulous that small acknowledgment that somehow I'm doing fine

That I'm standing on solid ground and not yellow dust climbing

Because we're only meant to go forward and not fuss

Smile because it'll all get better

Does it ever?

Or do I look at her and take her hand,

Tell her it's OK if her castle doesn't stand,

Because fabulous is 4 vowels and 4 consonants that will never be

The opposite of her shining spirit and glowing confidence

Even if it fades a little sometimes

It slips through her fingers like sand

But I'll tell her that it's OK to let go, to breathe,

And I hope that she'll understand

Thank you.

JACK KENNY: I used to watch the fireworks with my father.

He'd take me down to the waterfront

Down to watch the dazzling colours

As they sizzled through the night

And dissipated

Into the stars

That was a long time ago

Years have passed since

Slowly crawling on,


Boundless and never-ending,

Unrelenting and unrestrained

Who would ever have said that they didn't miss those years?

Revert my soul back to what it was then

Retain what pure, childlike innocence I had

And so I stand here now

On the same waterfront,

Gazing out over the same lake,

With hands in pockets and eyes

Turned up to the azure sky

That once blazed

Red and orange and yellow

I imagine a child with his father

Sitting down by the shore

Pointing up to the fabulous display

Of chromatic dissonance

And a reflection upon his eyes

Of all the harmonious wonder

That the world had to offer for him

Where has that gone?

Does the fantastical memory escape one's mind?

Tell me, Father, would you give anything now

To sit with me there next to you?

Tell me now

Do you still think of me as that child

That you had loved so wholly?

The past may be far behind

But it stays here

Within the lake

Of sparkling sapphires

And at night I swear I can still hear

The crackling of fire and metal

And the colours

That emerged

Laid upon my vision

What has come of that time?

Have we truly lost so much?

Where do we walk now?

Are you still here?

Tell me

Can you still hear the fireworks?

Do you still see them from wherever you are?


I call out


Within your chest,

You'll feel the explosions

Dazzling, sizzling, chromatic, crackling, harmonious, sparkling, fabulous

And suddenly,

I'm back there


And for a moment,

For just a small moment,

You had never even left


JORDAN STEEL: What are we without technology?

A useless ideology

Glued to our screens

No apology

Hiding behind a film of glass

No stopper on dishonesty

Phones are now the majority

Technology is taking over our world

When was the last time you talked to someone face-to-face

Took a step back from the endless race

For the hottest trends, the newest information

Can't slow down for fear of being displaced

It's a disgrace

Soon we'll be uploading our brains into an electronic database

Can't see further than the user interface

As technology robs us of the base

Of all that makes us human

I can't walk a single step without hearing a piece of technology beep bleep

The landslide is steep

Yet we don't seem to notice as we're falling down the rabbit hole

But Alice came out somewhere wonderful

And where we've ended up isn't quite so colourful

The expectation of assimilation--

A screen used like a shield to hurl insults

Vitriol and prejudice increased a hundred fold

Consumed by some repulsive impulse to tear each other down

We used to sit and listen to the birds tweeting

Now the only tweeting we hear is on Twitter

But all the birds are gone, and it's only X marks the spot

The clock is ticking but we've got no idea

Because we're so obsessed with TikTok

And on Instagram, everything only lasts for an instant

Social media is taking over our brains

Got to be perfect,

Fabulous like that celebrity on TV

I can't just be myself

Presenting my new edited life,

Complete with absolutely nothing

Polished until it shines

Don't let anyone see the crack in the lens,

See the way my life has been bent

To fit into the box that has been set

By a society that is hell-bent on refusing to admit that sadness is a thing

I've got 10,000 friends online

It's a lifeline

When I've only got 3 in real life

I'll have to talk to them sometime

But I've got a million other things demanding my attention

Buy this product

Like this post

Heart this pic

Subscribe to this channel

Update your status

Otherwise this whole super fast world will forget that you exist

Just like that

I don't want to be forgotten

I want to make my mark on the world

But in a time when nothing lasts longer than a month

It's harder than ever to be remembered

With millions of users, who cares about having one less?

Your achievements mean nothing to line after line of faceless strangers

It's like we can't even see the dangers

Of turning our lives into a product to be monetised

In the hope that our dreams will be recognised

By people we'll never even meet

Children are dying

Families are crying

In the effort to stop climate change we aren't even trying

All because what's happening on our screens is apparently more important

Just another bit of news that's not my problem

Until the day it is

Until the day we're all wiped out by some meteor or nuclear strike or horrific optus outage

The day when 'not my problem' becomes a reality

Our society is in a downward spiral

As we all sit comfortably in denial

Of the fact that we are losing touch with our humanity

Victims of the constant digital insanity

Hoping that someone will take the responsibility to change

Out of our hands and do it for us

But our overproduced, out of touch world is a product of our own making

As we walk away heads bowed to our screens

While the world collapses behind us


ZEYNEP ERDOGMUS: Hello, how are you?

Oh, me? Me? You know me. I'm fabulous, feeling incredible, on top of the world.

I'm not. I'm not.

I'm not, sure, but what's the harm in playing a little pretend? Happiness wouldn't be such a bad hill to die on.

Deception keeps the lights on, the conversation going. A single, awkward silence, dance between me and a reality I cannot begin to face. I lie too often about an undeserved kind of joy. I lie to us, to our friends, bless their hearts, and to our enemies who remain watching and waiting just for that glimpse, that second of failure. I will not give it to them.

Instead, fabulous thing that I am, I will drag us kicking and screaming to the very top of cloud 9. Beautiful cloud, that one. But it cannot hold our weight. We do not belong up there. We do not deserve that beautiful cloud. And as we fall through it eventually, inevitably, please play pretend with me. Act as if it's a shock. Gasp and cry out and look at me desperate, as if I hold the solution to any problem we could ever have.

I don't. But I'll lie then, too. A fabulous lie, hard to believe, but too painful to not. We're not falling. We are not falling. If we lie and we fall for it, does that make us a master of our cruel craft or as gullible as any worshipper?

Are we a worshipper? Do we worship that unreachable joy? Is that what separates us from the joyful truth tellers? Do we yearn too much? Do we push it away only because we're addicted to longing for it? These questions are hard to ponder.

Erase them. Take that old, battered whiteboard eraser, the one that leads behind a bigger mess than it cleans, and have a go. Erase them.

This is us, needy and craving for an easy emptiness. This is me, begging.

Let me die on this hill. Let me sink to the ground, trying to prove that, yes, we're happy. Yes, happier than you. You and your miserable life. No, we're nothing like you. I once had someone tell me people could find the prettiest sights if they only thought to look up. Falling ever so slowly into my hill of fabulous, but not moving, never moving. I look up. The sky is decorated in celestial light. There are so many stars.

Please think I'm better than them. The stars, those imperfect stars, lacking the talent to be symmetrical. They only shine at night. I beg you, do not compare me to them.

Let me perform. I am a practical performer. Do not deny me the show. I'm happy. Don't you believe me? Don't you believe me? Why not? Have I not earned your trust? Are you jealous? Do you see how I win each emotion, how I defeat you in every conversation? Does it tear you apart, the immutable fact I will always be better than you? God, don't you just hate me? I can't relate, of course. I don't hate me. No one could hate me without envy for fuel, and why would I ever envy myself?

I envy myself. No, scratch that. I envy the version of myself I feed to other people. In my head, they are fabulous, and so I point to my own rotting flesh and plead, aren't I pristine? The I is not me. The I is imaginary. The I is more beautiful than we could ever truly dream to be.

We have the body of a beast, the eyes of a despondent child, and a heart so weak it terrifies me. Dead men tell no tales, and yet we are woefully alive. When will we let It slip?

See me crawling on this hill, ready to tell no tales. See the trail of my own blood behind me. Is it mine or is it eyes? See me screaming with all the force of a weeping choir, and let me convince you it was just a laugh. See me standing at the doors of hell, giving a sermon as to why these must be the pearly gates, because I am here and I am fabulous.

See me and hear me and ignore it all as I ask, how are you? Oh, me? Me? Play pretend with me as I beg. You know me. Indulge my futile performance as I grin, as I grin. I feel. I feel-- is it really any question? Fabulous. Thank you.

MALLAK FARHAN: And when you become a diamond

You see why nature's seasons dance intricately

And why leaves had to fall in winter

You see why life had to suffocate you

Exactly like the narrow bracelet

That ignites your fingers-- witness redness

And when you become a diamond

You'll see why words were thrown without reason

Labels are stuck like glue

Unfairly defining you

In a world of visions that remained hidden

From the eyes of others

And when you become a diamond

You'll see why you had to scream into an endless abyss

Imprisoned in a cursed cage

A hungry bird that can't be fed

Trying to remember that even in darkness, hope can be found

Asking yourself to break free, to spread your wings

And soar above the ground

And when you become a diamond

You'll see why you had to be that one who is laughing amidst adversity

Weaving jokes to bring solace

Donning a smile, consoling their friend's woes

Bolstering their brother with kind words

Yet when night descends, he crumbles, a martyr

Salty little diamonds

Shimmering like secrets

Cascading from his eyes

No one truly comprehends

And when you become a diamond

You'll see why there were times when the universe's lights

Seemed to fade away in your shivering eyes

You'll see why you wish that your soul gasps to leave

To hug you so tightly like a mother

Who's trying to bind to her baby's soul

And when you become a diamond

You'll see why in the depths of your forgotten thoughts

A memory lingers

Saying, how the hell could I ever let it slip away?

My soul still remembers

You'll see why in the realm of frustration

You screamed in desperate pleas

Seeking solace from the torment that engulfed you

And when you become a diamond

You'll see why no one understood the depths of your sorrows

Isolation reigns as your emotions are pierced with venomous arrows

And when you become a diamond

You'll see why you had to conceal

Your feelings without a flicker of flame

Being a scentless explosion, a silent eruption

You'll see why life kicked you into her own dirt

And kept you casting from her mountain

Leaving you forever stuck in her cycle, drowning

In an ocean to a non-designated destination

With not even half a grain of realisation

And now you are that, beyond one's wildest dreams, diamond

Proudly saying that the ocean was an angry god

That slapped me down

Dumped me in the shore

And squeezed me into that diamond I am today

Unbreakable, untouchable, unfathomable

You saw why the stars; lights of the universe

Fell fabulously away from your eyes but came back

Dragged you to the moon

To catch them and raise their tremendousness while

Your words are coming out of the depths of your heart saying

I was swept up in an amorphous dust, nothing else

But for a reason

You now know that not all that glitters is a diamond

And a diamond's worth doesn't fade even if unadmired

Now you're tasting the top-notch side of life

Being a clear sky after a storm

Exclaiming to yourself you're on cloud 9

With a heart full of sunshine

Telling life that she is a fabulous song

And that we get to extraordinarily handwrite her lyrics

And we have the choice of asking her to be our favourite one

Or this one with the half baked melody that we hated the most

The heaven was begging to dance with me

As it went down to pull my hair

And I, its willing partner, followed it deeper into its leads

Tried to break free to be the phoenix of life after her race

Ending up as a mind-blowing diamond

That shines like a divine light painting the sky with ethereal hues

A diamond that's shimmering and splendid

Like a radiant beam of a fabulous pure joy

Thank you.


HARSH NAT: I just want to say, first of all, that we were absolutely blown away by everyone's performance today. So I just want to give a round of applause just for everyone.


It was a really hard decision to come to who we decided but at the end of the day the person that we chose had really compelling gestures, they had a very powerful delivery, and they developed a character who was somewhat unlikable at times, but that's how we felt that it was very impactful. They had great rhymes and timing and tone and overall left us feeling an impact.

So if I could get a drum roll please. The winner of the slam today is Zeyneb from Hunters Hill.


We really loved your performance. We loved the character that you developed. And we were writing notes at times, and then we would look up and just be blown away again. But again, everyone performed really well today, so thank you.

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