THE 2021 Australian Poetry Slam (APS) championships have come and gone with over 1000 poets competing across the nation for the chance to contest the national title at Sydney's Customs House.
Among the ranks of 16 finalists was Bellingen's Isi Ferguson, who ultimately took out the runner up position in the live literary competition.
Performing in front of a crowd close to 700 strong, the talented young wordsmith used her experiences as a student and love of metaphors to dazzle the five judges and the crowd, receiving high praise for her performance.
"I was a bit nervous at first walking out onto the stage but once you start talking, the nerves just go and you get in the zone," Isi said.
"The audience was really encouraging as well so I think that helped; the unique format allows audience members to respond during the poem so there is instant feedback; it created such an awesome and positive atmosphere.
"The whole experience was great; I would definitely be up for entering again next year if I can."
Throughout the year over 60 APS poetry slam heats took place in towns and cities across Australia, with the best and brightest slammers winning entry to state finals and then the national finals.
After deciding to enter a poetry slam event at the Bellingen Readers & Writers Festival, Isi found herself in one of these heats although she didn't know it at the time.
I've been reading and writing poetry for quite a while, but I think I really started to love it at high school, during creative writing classes poetry just seemed to naturally come out.- Isi Ferguson
"I've gone in the Bello Poetry Slam a few times before and I decided to participate again when the event was on earlier this year," she said.
"I ended up winning, and then I found it was a heat for the APS State Finals; it was a surprise and a bit unexpected but I had an opportunity to go to the next level, and I thought why not take it."
Isi performed a different poem at each stage of the competition with topics including water, broken pottery and a lady who cooks at her church.
One topic she is keen to stay away from though is COVID-19.
"It's been on everyone's mind the last few years but I think it would be too tricky to write anything meaningful about COVID so I'm steering clear.
"I've been pretty lucky to avoid experiencing the worst of it all, so I'm not sure I could write anything worthwhile anyway.
"Plus, I think people are sick of hearing about it by now."
Currently studying theology and culture at university, Isi says her attention is instead drawn by colour, culture and quirky moments.
She also finds inspiration in the poems she read growing up, but she also finds a way to work in her favourite literary technique regardless of the topic.
I find the whole writing process is a good way to express yourself and deal with complex emotions.- Isi Ferguson
"One of my poems was about water, filling up with water, filling up with emotion; I really like using metaphors," Isi said.
"I've been reading and writing poetry for quite a while, but I think I really started to love it at high school, during creative writing classes poetry just seemed to naturally come out. .
"I find the whole writing process is a good way to express yourself and deal with complex emotions."
The 2021 Australian Poetry Slam by Word Travels Story Festival wrapped up with seven days of workshops, talks and literary performances from November 22 until November 28, ending with the national championship.
Huda the Goddess from Brisbane was crowned the 2021 Australian Poetry Slam champion; Isi Ferguson won second place, while Tom Kaldor from Sydney took third place.
In past years, the first prize has been an all-expenses-paid international tour performing at arts festivals around Australia, Southeast Asia and North America.
This year COVID restrictions forced first prize to undergo a slight change to a $10,000 prize pack which includes professional mentoring and performance opportunities in 2022.
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