Poems that fly on the stage

Dandenong poet Aloma Davis is thrilled to see her work in print. (Stewart Chambers: 417453_06)

by Sahar Foladi

She represented Victoria at the Australian Poetry Slam National Championships and is now ticking off her goals one by one.

Greater Dandenong resident and poet, Aloma Davis made a breakthrough into the realm of poetry back in 2022 as she wowed the judges at the State Final of the championship at the State Library.

As reported by Star Journal previously, Ms Davis went on to compete at the Australian Poetry Slam (APS) National Final in Sydney Opera House.

“It was amazing. The energy in the room, you can feel everybody’s anticipation, everybody there because they love what the poets do.

“Everyone was very different, some did traditional, comedy, lyrical like me.”

Despite her best efforts, birds just fly into her poems but this time at the national finals, it was snow.

Alongside “running around performing” as a poet, since then she has been ticking off her goals, from publishing one poem in anthologies to now a clear goal of having her own poem collection published.

“I don’t have a whole collection of my own because I don’t have enough poems yet.

“When I have enough, I’ll be looking to publish a collection. That’s a life goal, fingers crossed,” Ms Davis said.

Sixty pages are required to make a little book with a spine. As she works towards this goal, she’ll also be busy participating in a Fellowship with the Red Room Poetry 2024.

Ms Davis is one of five selected for a Red Room Poetry Fellowship after long-listing and short-listing out of 91 applicants.

The opportunity will see the fellows spend a week at Varuna, a poet’s residence in New South Wales, to undertake an intensive period of creative development which also includes a commission to be published as part of Poetry Month in August.

“I’ll spend a week there, working on my cycle of poems, like a mini collection tied together. I’ve never done that before so that’ll be fun.”

She is the only poet selected from Victoria whilst the rest are made up by NSW, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania.

A lot of doors have opened for this talented poet who is also a teacher but as a local resident of Greater Dandenong. But how did she get to where she is now?

The Springvale Library’s APS Heat was how she got into the Slam Championship. While “it’s a shame” the library hasn’t hosted the event ever since, Ms Davis remembers it as a “magical” experience.

“When I look around all the different cultures here, so many of them have this incredibly rich tradition of poetry.

“You won’t find any house from those cultures that doesn’t have a book of poetry on their shelf. Yet if you walk into white bread houses, you’d never see a poetry book on a shelf – that’s not the case in Dandenong,” she said.

“I’d like to see few things happening in our local libraries, I think it would be magical.

“I think the diversity of voices and the experience would be jaw dropping.”

She talks up the power of an open-mic event in building a social connection between people and building a culture within the community.

The most exciting aspect of her journey has been seeing her name printed on a book with her poetry.

And she’s determined to make the most out of the years left ahead.

“I’m middle-aged. Every so often people die, it gives you a kick at the bum that says, you won’t be here forever, what you waiting for?

“What are you afraid of trying?

“That teenage me that wanted to be a professional writer, but that wouldn’t pay you a living, had to go through another career, she’d be so excited at the idea there’s a poem in a book with my name on it.”

She urges every poet who haven’t stepped out in the public and shared their writing yet to just go for it, and to attend Spoken Word Poetry events even if not participating but just to hear and see other poets.

“The great variety of the voices you hear is kind of reassuring to a poet because we tend to be a perfectionist and internal.

“I was very afraid of judgement and failure but I what I found was that everyone was very welcoming, they seem competitive but they’re very helpful.

“I hope anybody can look at me and say, ‘oh you can do that.’”

Her poetry is concerned about social justice, beauty and kindness so it comes as no surprise that one of her poetry performances was part of the International Human Rights Art Festival in New York in 2023.

She also has her own website alomadavis.com