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Emilie Zoey Baker

Entertainer, Storyteller/Performer

Emilie Zoey Baker is an international poetry slam champion who will excite and delight all ages about poetry written for both page and stage.

So, for the uninitiated, can you explain just what slam poetry is?

Traditional slam is live performance poetry performed for a group of audience members, who can be from any walk of life. From those audience members five random judges are chosen … the reason it is judged by the audience is that the idea is that it is for the people.

So the poetry is for the everyman and the everyman is holding a score up out of 10 to judge you. So the way it basically works is there are 10 poets that get roughly 3 or 4 minutes on stage to recite their poem into a microphone. Usually there are no musical props or anything like that.

It’s just them and their voice. And the audience, the random judges, give them a score out of 10. It’s immediate. It’s live. It’s raw. There is booing. There is cheering. There is jeering. And at the end the poet with the highest score is the winner.

(This answer comes from a Sydney Morning Herald article by Michael Short, in which he interviewed Emilie for The Zone. Read more here.)

What other jobs have you had?

I’ve been a waitress, a waitress dressed as a wench, a bar hand and a record shop girl. I’ve been a bunny, a tiger, an aeroplane (a soft one) and a clown. (No really, I can ride a unicycle and everything.) I’m an award winning face-painter and body artist and once I stood in the middle of the MCG dressed as a lion balancing on a giant inflatable ball.

What are you passionate about?

My motto is ‘Children should be seen and heard, OUTLOUD!’ I’m passionate about bringing poetry into the classroom in a fun, exciting and unexpected way and introducing slam to teenagers.

What themes are recurring in your work?

I talk about feminism, cyber bullying, advertising, Australian culture and those blow-up dancing men you see out the front of car-washes

What have been the highlights of your career?

Winning the Berlin International Slam, having my poetry translated and published in the Moscow Times, meeting David Attenborough (he has a copy of my book), performing in Paris, Indonesia, New Zealand, England, At the Bowery Poetry club in NYC, The Green Mill in Chicago and winning the Nimbin Performance Poetry Cup.

Where have your works been published?

On the side of Melbourne’s trains, in journals such as Going Down Swinging, Cordite, Schriftstelle (Germany) and Short Fuse (US), Rudomino Book Centre, Moscow and poems inspired by the films of David Lynch in the collections We Don’t Stop Here and A Slice of Cherry Pie (The Private Press, UK & US).

Haven’t I seen you before?

Yeah, I’m pretty famous (blows on nails). But if you haven’t seen me yet, here are some places you can get an idea of what I’m all about:

  • In 2012 I took a residency (supported by Arts Victoria) with fellow poets Ezra Bix, Sean M Whelan, and Michelle Dabrowski. You can view a video about our work at Rutherglen here (YouTube, 12 minutes)
  • I’ve given talks about slam poetry far and wide, but close to home, The Wheeler Centre recorded one of them and you can view it here (Wheeler Centre site, 20 mins).
  • There is a nice profile of me from working with the 2011 Overload Poetry festival which you can view here.
  • If you’re really young, you have may have learnt a little about some of your feelings from one of the six children’s books I wrote for Book Group Australia.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I have a major life-long crush on David Bowie.

Testimonials

Emilie Zoey Baker, the poet, was absolutely spot on for our year 5 group. She really enthused them about poetry, which is exactly what we wanted. Her slideshow was really funny and at exactly the right level. So, AWESOME!!

—- J. Butler, Caulfield Grammar School, July 2015

Students are now really keen on the ‘spoken word’ through the efforts of Emilie and SLAM POETRY. Emilie is a genius at getting young people enthused.  Teachers, students and audiences were enthralled.    It has been a real privilege to have Emilie come to Mount Beauty & share her love of the Spoken Word.   Local secondary college teacher is now so enthusiastic she is planning to take students to Melbourne SLAM events etc.    I’m so pleased to hear that  there will be spin-offs from the workshops and student performances.

—- M.Brereton, Festival Director, Mount Beauty Music Festival, April 2015

Thanks for your inspirational poetry workshop. I will be pushing for slam poetry as part of the curriculum at Beth Rivkah and will also be talking to my supervisor to try to get this on the Australian Curriculum for English and/or Literature.

—P. Feldman, Beth Rivkah Ladies College, August 2012

Most loved the concept of slam poetry and would have followed up their interest by researching online or finding out about places to view this performance art. Thank you Zoey Emilie Baker for being so receptive, informative and entertaining.

—S. Brookes, Teacher, Sandringham College 2016

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