It’s over for its 9th year – Overload Poetry Festival has said goodbye and won’t be back until next September. It went out with style and a bang at the Grace Darling on Sunday evening.

I’d never been to the Grace Darling before. What a venue! Down-stairs is decked out nicely – nothing spectacular, though their menu made me drool on the floor. The Overload Surprise Showcase was upstairs. Upstairs is like some absolutely NUTS cross between Ding-Dong, the Hotel Windsor and your primary school hall. There are some amazing gold glittery curtains, and fantastically upholstered wing-backed chairs. The space is quite large, and was set up for the evening with rows of seats around the stage.

Hosted by Steve Smart and Santo Cazzati, the showcase featured performers and awards, and DJ Zanda kept us entertained in breaks and later into the night. 

A hightlight was the performance from Ian McBryde, who whispered his poetry so quietly that I found myself leaning towards him. He performed many pieces, my favourite was a piece about the Titanic. McBryde made himself both the doomed ship and the iceberg, in an incredibly striking piece that really spoke to me.

I’d never seen Anna Fern perform before, likewise Alicia Sometimes. Anna has a unique brand of performance, combining spoken word with vocal acrobatics and percussive instruments to make something more like a soundscape than a poem. Alicia Sometimes’ poetry is just plain fun. She did a piece about spending too much time at home and plugging her pets into amplifiers. Her dog into an amp, her cat into a wah-wah pedal (“meowowowowwwww”) and her budgie into a delay pedal (“who’s a pretty boy-boy-boy-boy-boy?”) – I’ll be looking out to see this self-proclaimed “poetry slut” again.

Also performing were Graham Colin, Joel McKerrow, and Luka Haralampou, who all placed at the Overload Slam Grand Final. Awards were presented, with Bendigo Bank being kind enough to donate $2000 in prize money for the winners.

It was a small crowd, but a responsive one. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet some of the festival’s performers in a more intimate setting, and a last chance to see some awesome Overload Poetry in action before it all wound up.

I’ve had a great time over the festival, and I’d like to thank Overload for being kind enough to take me on board to review the shows. Thanks to Ashley Molese and Luis Gonzalez Serrano for their support, and congratulations to Overload for such a hugely successful program. Can’t wait until next year!