Review | Star-Crossed Poetry is full of love

Star-Crossed Poetry | Paper Mountain / Cheeky Sparrow | til Feb 19th | ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ 

Oh, love. Like it or loathe it, love is what the world needs right now. Unfortunately, none of us have arms wide enough to wrap this globe in the caring hug it so desperately craves. But we do have something at hand that can reach just as far, can soothe and coo and cradle just as effectively: our voices. And through the medium of poetry, our voices can transform language into a pacifying balm, an invigorating salve, a much needed poetic poultice for our collective souls.   

Star-Crossed Poetry is such a poetic poultice. This spoken word / performance poetry show examines the car crashes and climaxes of love with ferocity and a pure intent. Yes, you may think ‘ugh… poetry’, but this ain’t your Year 12 English Lit poetics (Hi Mrs K!). This is raw, urban-enthused poetry that rallies the heart to beat harder, faster, louder, braver.

Brainchild of 2017 Australian Poetry Slam co-champion Jesse Oliver, Star-Crossed Poetry brings together local legends in the making such as Oliver, The Laundry Man, Saoirse Nash, Demie Scally and beat maker Jake Sulli. Together, this motley crew imbues the microphone with the forlorn and the unfathomable as they attempt to comprehend this thing we call ‘love’.

While there may not be a word to describe ‘tongue on arse’, Laundry Man certainly gives us enough imagery to comprehend the holiness of such an act. His poem that explains how ‘love was not your drug’ is terrifying and terrific in equal measures. Nash invokes wildflowers and the necessity of a ‘post-apocalyptic fuck’ with intense certainty. In fact, her poem about how messed up politics are as a metaphor for sex is just… wow – heady, beguiling and so current it’s electric. Surprising stand-out goes to Scally. This poet has a palatable disarming charm that is endearing and exciting. Her list poem is also ‘wow’, so brutally honest and humourous you can’t help but be affected by the heartache it contains. And, of course, Sulli adds a much needed comic relief that breaks the tension. And oh yeah, those beats are pretty sick.

As for show creator Oliver… well, if you’ve been following the career of this rising Perth star (we did do a very insightful interview with Oliver late last year… you should really read it) you know he is manifesting his own destiny. And then some. This show is a certain, surefooted step toward that destiny. Oliver is doing good: this show is testament to that.

Some simple lighting would have worked wonders with this production, delineating the spaces on the stage, drawing focus to the microphone. Yet, even without lights, your attention is held by the way these poets amplify human experience using only gesture and tongue.

Star-Crossed Poetry, as the title suggests, is a poetry show. But don’t let that fool you. This is the kinda poetry show that will make you realise that your Year 12 English Lit teacher (hi Mrs K!) was teaching poetry all wrong. It ain’t about stuffy books. Poetry is about language cupping the ear in voice, hugging it tight with imagery and emotion that spills, giddily, into your heart. Star-Crossed Poetry achieves this. You will leave lighter than when you entered, giddy and a touch more inspired by this crazy thing called ‘love’. This poetic poultice of a show is one showcase of Perth talent you simply must-see.  

Star-Crossed Poetry is at Paper Mountain til February 4th, and at Cheeky Sparrow on February 12th & 19th. More info available from

Scott-Patrick Mitchell

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