Spoken Arts Siem Reap, a twice-monthly exchange weaving together words, performance and alcohol to create something quite special, will be launched on Tuesday night with the hope that it will provide an avenue for poets and writers to come together and share their work.
According to poet and co-organiser Sarah Pycroft, the idea originated after the highly successful Graffoetry Trail earlier this year, organised by Tori Green, when X-Bar and 1961 played hosts to spoken word artists Kosal Khiev and Dan Tsu.
Pycroft says, “Both gigs were epic and we wanted to keep the ball rolling. A few weeks later Rhi Quinn, Tori and I went down to Phnom Penh where Kosal was hosting his first poetry slam and following that we resolved to set something similar up in Siem Reap.”
The gathering that inspired the Spoken Arts organisers took place at Voodoo Bar, and was initiated by Rhi Quinn. This featured readings of original poetry and monologues as well as recitations of famous poems and excerpts from a Cambodian ritual text.
Those of a nervous disposition were encouraged by a free drink for anyone who read something.
Green is aware that some people are put off by the idea of poetry and says “Sometimes poetry can be seen as a little highbrow and I want to challenge that by mixing street art, murals, spoken word and poetry together as a performance.”
Pycroft says the name Spoken Arts is designed to encompass more than just poetry and spoken word. It also includes anything that people want to read or perform, whether they have written it or want to share someone else's work that they love.
Green is keen to see more people get involved. She says, “I would love to see it grow – at the first night we had five different nationalities take part. We have people who are published and people who come with a friend and write a poem on their beer mat. I really would like to encourage more Khmer to take part.”
Writer and co- organiser Tony Patrick thinks that there is a lot of untapped talent in town. He says, “Siem reap needs to be about more than just bars and clubs and I think people are hungry for alternatives. Poetry and literature are a good place to start in a town with so many artists who haven't surfaced yet."
Spoken Arts Siem Reap commences on July 9 at J4B bar and will continue on the first and third Tuesday of every month. It starts at 8pm with $1 cocktails to ease nerves. The organisers are keen to emphasise that this will be the ‘write’ place to spend Tuesday nights – and that poems don’t have to rhyme. Joanna Wolfarth