Reviewed on Friday October 12

As part of theWord Travels Festival, the newly crowned home of theAustralian Poetry Slam, stand out voicesUrsula RuckerandCandyRoyalletook to the Sydney Theatre Company stage. Having released five solo albums since 1994 as well as collaborating with The Roots, 4Hero and Jazzanova, Miss Rucker, a Philadelphia poet, is a unique talent and seeing her on Aussie soil sure was an experience.

Sydney-based poet Candy Royalle opened the show and although having previously seen some of her pieces, this performance brought new life and meaning to her words. Her passionate, fierce yet vulnerable creations had the audience involuntarily nodding and gasping as she struck tender nerves and boldly articulated complex ideas and emotions. The sexuality and rawness of some pieces was made even more extraordinary considering her mum was in the audience –evidence alone that Candy is unafraid to challenge anyone and everyone who hears her perform.

Next up Ursula graced a well-warmed stage just moments after stepping off a flight from Melbourne where she was surrounded by a touring football team. “You all know what I’m talking about there,” she exclaimed to a roar of laughter. After such trauma she understandably took a piece or two to find her groove. Hers were more musical pieces that focus on the plights so intrinsic to her hometown of Philadelphia. Still, the themes of inequality, race, feminism, war, love, peace and struggle easily cross cultural boundaries. Her passion, confidence and distinctive style were so intoxicating that by the end of her forty minute set the audience were on their feet wanting more. She rounded things up with one final piece and left the stage to another standing ovation. Walking away it was hard to come back to earth after such a fast paced and eye-opening evening that not only shook the foundations of what poetry can be, but also reinforced the power of spoken words.

4/5 stars


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