Slam Poet’s Powerful Prose Tackling Ignorance to Drive Social Change

Harmony Week (March 15th – 21st) celebrates multiculturalism and the integration of migrants into the community. Like the name suggests, the day is about respect, inclusiveness and belonging for all Australians, regardless of cultural or linguistic background, united by a set of core Australian values.  

This year, luxury Australian tea brand, T2, are taking a stand against micro ignorance to end pervasive discrimination against culture, gender and identity by highlighting four award-winning Australian slam poets and creating a platform for everyone to share their story. 

T2 lives and breathes diversity with over 100 sourced recipes and blends from communities around the world and proudly celebrates all flavours, cultures, and tastes— while embracing the fact that each person is unique and individual differences are both liberating and beautiful.

slam poet social change

Micro ignorance is a little known phenomenon, however it’s a pervasive form of discrimination, found in the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights or insults, (either intentional or unintentional), directing derogatory messages.

Watch the raw and relatable poetry video below which features the dynamic, diverse voices of four award-winning Australian slam poets: Eunice Andrada, Anisa Nandaula, Jesse Oliver and Emilie Collyer. Each poet’s performance is inspired by personal experiences, shaped by socially significant aspects in their lives like sexuality, ageism and racism:

Meet Slam Poet: Anisa Nandaula

Anisa Nandaulawas born in Kampala, Uganda and moved to Australia at the age of eight. Through growing up in Australia; Anisa began to notice the obvious distinctions between the first world country she was growing up in and the third world country she was born into. The gross difference in living standards was what sparked her passion for social justice and this passion motivated her to use her voice to articulate her thoughts. 

Brisbane based, Anisa is the Australian Poetry Slam 2016 runner up and Queensland Poetry Slam champion. She is the recipient of the 2018 Queensland poetry XYZ innovation in spoken word prize. Anisa is a published poet and had toured the country with her debut poetry collection Melanin Garden. She has performed on some of the largest stages in the world such as the Woodford Folk Festival, Splendour In The Grass and the Sydney Opera House

How did your journey into poetry begin?

I was born in Uganda Kampala and then I moved to Australia when I was about 6 or 7 years old. We came straight to Rockhampton, which was interesting because I was the only black person in my school. 

When I was in high school we were asked to write a story about our lives, and I remember sitting down and looking at all these books and thinking about my cousins back home in Uganda who couldn’t afford to get an education. All I could think was ‘how is this fair? This is not right’ and it manifested itself in poetry, I felt that I owed it to my family back home.  

What inspires you as a poet?

I think that being a poet requires authenticity, which allows us, not to live as individuals but gives us a space to realise that we become one, that what is standing between us is nothing. 

How has slam poetry provided a platform for you to share your story and educate others about your experiences?

Moving to Australia and living between two worlds made it hard for me to process my identity. Growing up I didn’t feel like I was African because I grew up here, so it felt like having two feet in both worlds and not having the language to understand it as a young person. Poetry became my way to understand and dissect all the notions of culture and race, and what it means to be Australian and Ugandan. 

Sharing your personal experiences publicly must be challenging at times. What keeps you motivated?

It does. Usually, when I perform, I don’t know if anyone is attentive and notices this, but I close my eyes throughout most of my performances. But when I get off stage… I’ve done poems about sexual assault and child abuse and then I’ve had women coming up to me and saying ‘This happened to me, this happened to me, this happened to me’. The fact that they are able to confide their deepest, darkest traumas with a complete stranger and feel safe to do so is so profound to me. It creates a space of openness because I’ve allowed you to see me and now I can see you. 

Harmony Week is an annual event that encourages diversity and inclusivity in Australia. What would your ideal harmonious world look like?

I want people to understand that, despite the common belief that we embrace diversity as a nation, the daily micro ignorances that myself and many other people face in Australia shows that our country still struggles to accept each other’s differences.

People always ask to touch my hair and the thing is, people don’t do this intentionally but they don’t understand the history behind it. Women with afros who looked like me used to be put in zoos, where people would pay to see and touch us. The initiative led by T2 is powerful because it is giving people who experience this kind of micro-ignorance every day the platform to stand up and talk about it. Many people who deal with micro ignorance’s feel unable to talk about it or deal with it privately. 

For Harmony Week, my ideal harmonious world would be where people from different backgrounds can authentically be themselves, like T2’s commitment to sharing people’s stories that need to be heard. Through listening and taking part in standing up against micro ignorances, we can create connections with each other and hear each other’s stories.

Meet Slam Poet: Emilie Collyer

Emilie Collyer writes plays, poetry, fiction and essays. Her work often asks difficult questions about humanity via the existential or the fantastical. Theatre awards and short listings of note include: The Good Girl (Winner Best Writer Melbourne Fringe, Green Room Nomination), Dream Home (shortlisted Edward Albee Scholarship and Patrick White Award, seven Green Room Nominations), Promise (Winner George Fairfax Award, Highly Commended Patrick White Award), Argonauta (Winner Young Playwright’s Award). 

Emilie works as a dramaturg and mentor, most recently at Deakin University and the University of Melbourne as Union House Theatre Co-writer in Residence. She served on the Green Room Awards Independent Theatre panel for four years (two as co-chair). She is a founding member of Punctum and New Working Group.

Slam poet Emilie Collyer

How did your journey into poetry begin?

I identify primarily as a playwright and a poet. I do perform my poetry and that’s just because about ten years ago when I started thinking I wanted to get more into poetry, I looked around and saw there was a really great live scene in Melbourne where you could go and read something on an open mic. I did that a few times and people were like “Oh wow that’s really good” and I got a few features. 

I feel it’s important to share personal stories through poetry and that through performing poetry it connects with people in a way that opens things up. 

What inspires you as a poet?

I share personal experiences I have had in my life, and I think it always brings me back to the notion of accepting change in life but also trying to live in a way that has integrity and that you treat other people well no matter where they come from or you come from.

How has poetry provided a platform for you to share your story and educate others about your experiences?

I explore many different themes in my work, one being on ageism and stereotyping. On the whole, I’m incredibly lucky…I’m a white, middle-class woman, well-educated, and I can move through the world with a great deal of confidence. However, there are things that certainly as a woman in a culture that still feels like it is dominated by male values you come up against assumptions as you get older. You’re less interesting, you’re less relevant, and you’re out of touch and all those little jokes of ‘Ah well you don’t get the younger generation’. And it’s sort of like well can’t there be cross-pollination. It is their micro-ignorances that have come to the floor in my work with T2. 

Sharing your personal experiences publicly must be challenging at times. What keeps you motivated through the challenges?

I do a lot of work with younger people in theatre and the poetry scenes. They have a remarkable amount of awareness, of social conscience and social responsibility. That motivates me one hundred percent, just super-smart people just doing things in the world.

Harmony Week is an annual event that encourages diversity and inclusivity in Australia. What would your ideal harmonious world look like?

Harmony Week is a time to listen, learn and most importantly, celebrate the diversity of all Australians. T2 is encouraging Australians to listen, have ordinary conversations with people and be curious. 

Meet Slam Poet: Eunice Andrada

Eunice Andrada is a Filipina poet, journalist, lyricist and teaching artist based in Sydney. Featured in The Guardian, CNN International, ABC News and other media, she has also performed her poetry in diverse international stages, from the Sydney Opera House and the deserts of Alice Springs to the United Nations Climate Negotiations in Paris. During a residency in Canada’s prestigious Banff Centre, she collaborated with award-winning jazz musician and Cirque du Soleil vocalist Malika Tirolien. She has also shared her verses with celebrated composer Andrée Greenwell for the choral project Listen to Me. 

In 2016, she was honoured by Australian Poetry as the first of their 30 Under 30 Poets. In 2018, the Amunsden-Scott Station in the South Pole of Antarctica featured her poetry in a special exhibition on climate change. Her first poetry collection Flood Damages (Giramondo Books) was published in April 2018.

Slam poet Eunice Andrada

How did your journey into poetry begin?

I started writing poetry seven years ago, about a year after I came to Australia from the Philippines and that was when I really started writing poetry and actually considering myself a poet. Back in the Philippines I didn’t think being a female poet was possible, and it’s not until they pop up on the Internet that you realise there are so many different kinds of poets.  

What inspires you as a poet?

Young people inspire me so much. I was at the Climate Strike and it was so inspiring seeing so many young people yelling into megaphones and really wanting to be active and to be heard, especially in this kind of climate where everyone is drowning each other’s voices out. 

How has slam poetry provided a platform for you to share your story and educate others about your experiences?

As an immigrant to Australia, my entire world view changed when I came here. All of a sudden I was a woman of colour, which is crazy because I never thought about that in the Philippines. I became more aware of the ways I occupy space and how I acknowledge the land in a different way to my home soil.

Sharing your personal experiences publicly must be challenging at times. What keeps you motivated through the challenges?

When I perform, I think openness and vulnerability are really important and I think as a society if we were all more vulnerable it would make us a lot stronger. 

Harmony Week is an annual event that encourages diversity and inclusivity in Australia. What would your ideal harmonious world look like?

The collaboration with T2 in Harmony Week is a great way to tell stories of people’s experience with micro ignorance. 

I think as a society what we can do at both an individual and societal level is to really question our own understanding of other people and other communities and see where that comes from–who taught us to think that way? Who taught us to think that way and why? What are the motives behind them teaching us to think that way? 

I want viewers to see the T2 initiative and become more open in their perspective of other people because through listening comes acceptance. 

Meet Slam Poet: Jesse Oliver

Jesse Oliver is a wholesome Perth Poet who is best known for his casual conversational style of slam. For Jesse, writing and performing has always played a significant role in supporting him through difficult times. But now, he wants to use his words to open a discussion about his lived experiences of homelessness, gender transition and mental illness. He does this through a range of his favourite topics including dreams, aliens, and selfless love.

In 2017, he appeared on national platforms including the National Young Writers Festival, the Emerging Writers Festival, the Digital Writers Festival and the Australian Poetry Slam National Final. In 2018, Jesse launched Rap/Poetry show Star-Crossed Poetry at Perth Fringe World, joined the Spoken Word Perth team, jumped on an international tour and returned to the National Young Writers Festival as Co-Director. 

How did your journey into poetry begin?

I began writing and performing poetry when I was going through some very difficult times. When I first came out as queer, I was living on the streets, and then when I underwent my transition, I was really struggling to express myself, and I found poetry to be a really accepting, diverse community for me to belong. 

I used to speak with a little bit of a stutter and it was just because I was so nervous that I used to shake when I would talk to people. I wanted to do the scariest thing that I could think of doing to try and get used to it and that was to perform poetry at a poetry slam and I did.

What inspires you as a poet?

I’m very hopeful, I know that people want to connect with other people. 

How has slam poetry provided a platform for you to share your story and educate others about your experiences?

Throughout my transition I experienced instances of micro-ignorance, one example is when I was busting to go to the toilet but not being able to find a bathroom I could use, and the awkwardness when you finally decide to use the ladies and there is a woman standing outside to tell you that you are in the wrong toilet is confronting. 

It’s these little moments that have been brought to life with my poetry in the T2 campaign.

Sharing your personal experiences publicly must be challenging at times. What keeps you motivated through the challenges?

It can be, but I think the poetry community assists because we’re constantly being exposed to new stories and new ideas.

Harmony Week is an annual event that encourages diversity and inclusivity in Australia. What would your ideal harmonious world look like?

I think it’s about being more aware of micro ignorance, ignorance across the board for any issue.  We form an understanding of the world we live in based on our experiences and we also have the ability to tailor those experiences.  The most important thing we can do this Harmony week is create a safer space to sit and listen to people, so that we can continue to build a world where people from different backgrounds can authentically be themselves. 

Meet Amy Smith, T2 Global Brand Director

T2 tea

The T2 ‘Verses of Tea’ campaign is incredibly inspiring. What sparked T2’s interest in connecting with a range of powerful poets?

It’s our mission at T2 to be inclusive to all people, so this campaign is an opportunity to tackle behaviours where people – particularly those in minority groups – can feel targeted and excluded. 

Australians are a diverse group of people, we all have different backgrounds and upbringings, so it’s our mission at T2 to celebrate those differences. Challenging micro ignorance is important if we want to achieve celebrate difference to make a difference. 

Micro ignorance continues to be so prevalent because the people of different backgrounds who experience it every day often feel unable to speak up, unfortunately, people feel it’s something to deal with privately or take in their stride.

We’re delighted with the slam poets that have collaborated with T2 on the Verse of Tea campaign, who are immensely talented. Like our teas, they are perfect examples of human blends that show how are differences make us unique and interesting.   

The personal experiences shared by poets are giving viewers first-hand insights into the effects of micro ignorance. We want the stories shared by the poets to encourage viewers to try and understand the impact of micro ignorance and how it makes others feel. 

It’s important to share these experiences, as it’s one of the most powerful ways to have a deeper understanding of each other’s differences. And when we do achieve that, we have a totally different relationship, a different way to connect and belong to one another.

In a time when understanding and compassion is more important than ever in our society, we hope others can recognise their role in committing micro ignorance and ultimately join us as a brewing force for good.  

How do the stories shared in the campaign reflect T2’s core values?

At T2 we have always championed diversity, which is clear in our range of products. Since our doors opened 20 years ago, we have celebrated all teas of all flavours and blends, so essentially the diversity in our tea is a celebration of the diversity of humanity. 

The curated blends of T2 tea reflects the different blends of people, culture, preferences and beliefs that make up tea. No matter your own blend as a person, anyone can share a cup of tea and celebrate the differences that make us more interesting. 

At T2 it’s our aim to celebrate difference in order to make a difference, by building a generation of tea lovers that unites the world for good.

Can you share T2’s vision behind the closing statement in the video ‘Join our Brewing Force for Good’?

We take pride in being leaders and agents for change, we know that through a cup of T2 we can help to drive positive people and planet impacts. 

It’s in our DNA to do things differently. To be different. Think different. Drink different. T2 was born out of a desire to be unlike anything else, to break the mould and challenge the way things are done.

We are a magnet for individuality because there’s no tea brand out there like us. No one looks like us, sounds like us or acts like us. So who better to celebrate standing out than a tea brand that has always stood out? Sip by sip, cup by cup, at T2, we’re making it our mission to use the humble brew to fuel conversations around diversity and inclusion.

What T2 flavour best embodies the feeling of harmony?

I love The Quiet Mind; it’s comfort in a cup! Quiet your mind, brew up a cup, shut out the world and leave the rest to ashwagandha, schisandra, chamomile, eucalyptus and friends. 

Website: www.T2tea.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/T2Tea

Instagram: @t2tea

#HarmonyWeek #T2gether 

About T2

Luxury tea brand T2 took its first sip 20 years ago in Melbourne, Australia on iconic Brunswick Street. From over two hundred unexpected flavours like Fruitalicious and Jade Mountain to beloved favourites like French Earl Grey and Melbourne Breakfast, there’s a tea to suit every style, taste and mood. T2 teas are housed in orange gift cubes, which over the years have become an iconic symbol of the T2 brand. Every T2 store is an invitation to taste, smell and touch—an immersive and sensory journey into all that tea has to offer. T2 now sells quality teas and eclectic teawares all around the world, from London to New York. 

T2 is part of the Unilever Group, one of the world’s top 100 companies, which gives the brand the ability to take its passion for sharing quality tea and teawares with tea lovers around the world.

Subvrtmag

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *