Being natural and spontaneous during a poetry slam takes practice.
Hip-hop artist Mantra, who will host Friday’s WAM Slam at Albury Library Museum, said entrants should make sure they rehearse thoroughly ahead of time.
“Practice and preparation is paramount, because it helps take away those nerves on the night,” he said.
“But it also means that you absolutely understand the nuance of your piece and that you know exactly where you want everything to land.
“It’s way better to do it once or twice a day for a week than do it 10 times on the day – that’s not going to work, you need that constant kind of revision and revising and regularity.”
Melbourne-based Mantra is looking forward to his first Write Around The Murray, a five-day literary festival that opens on Wednesday.
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He will also conduct a public workshop on Thursday and school sessions.
“Essentially my side hustle, I guess you could say, is trying to infiltrate the education system as much as possible with hip-hop and spoken word,” he said.
“The main reason I’m so passionate about creative arts in schools is because it kind of teaches so much more than just creative expression, it teaches life skills and really great values and principles that you can live by and apply to real life situations.”
As a teenager, Mantra began making hip-hop music for fun, never dreaming it could become his career.
“I didn’t even know that there were Australian rappers making a career out of hip-hop music and in fact at that time there were very, very few of them,” he said.
Although not an academic achiever at school, Mantra came to appreciate knowledge through his music.
“You have to have it to write songs,” he said.
“You have to have vocabulary, you have to have a good understanding of language and how it works.
“I kind of became hungry for knowledge and learned a lot.
“Not everybody understands the depths and diversity of something like hip-hop – for a lot of people it’s still just people swearing on the radio.”
Mantra advised WAM Slam entrants to choose pieces that felt right.
“Don’t overthink that,” he said.
“People need to think less about what they think the audience expects or the audience wants and more about what feels comfortable and natural to them.”
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