Word prize speaks volumes

August 26, 2021 BY

Words out loud: Megan J Riedl is four years into her artistic spoken word journey. Photo: MELISSA BRENNAN

THE recent XYZ Prize for Innovation in Spoken Word was awarded to Ballarat poet Megan J Riedl for her work Single White Female.

Merging two poems exploring online dating, the spoken word entry included smartphone and morse code sounds.

“I wanted to experiment with mashing up two poems. One was very rhythmically repetitive, so it served like a beat for the other poem which is more lyrical,” Riedl said.

“The significance of this is massive for me. It is a major national award in the spoken word scene, so I’m super proud of myself.

“I’m so happy to represent Ballarat and our creative city. It is a great place to live for artists.”

Riedl has been performing spoken word for four years, debuting her work at Words Out Loud.

“The poetry scene is incredibly welcoming. Everyone understands the courage it takes to share. I just kept showing up, and people kept giving me opportunities,” she said.

The poet has since been commissioned by the City of Ballarat, and part of poetry events in Melbourne, but is looking forward to more face-to-face chances to showcase her creativity, and perform, after a COVID-impacted 18 months.

“Online events are great, but it’s just so invigorating to be in the room with an audience,” she said.

“The joy is palpable when people can actually come together. I hope we can see more government support for the arts sector.

“People are hurting and have so much creativity to showcase. We’re just tired of our plans getting cancelled.”

Presented by Arts Queensland, the XYZ Prize for Innovation in Spoken Word is currently the only award of its type given across Australia in the spoken word space.

It is named after American poet Emily XYZ; Arts Queensland’s 2010 poet in residence.