• Melanie Munungurr-Williams is the national champion of slam poetry. (Supplied)
Melanie Munungurr-Williams is the prestigious national poetry competition's first Indigenous winner.
By
Jessica Washington

25 Oct 2018 - 11:09 AM  UPDATED 5 Nov 2018 - 3:56 PM

Djapu woman Melanie Munungurr-Williams from Darwin was chosen by the audience as the winner of the Australian Poetry Slam final.

Ms Munungurr-Williams has been writing poetry for years, but believes there was something different about her delivery when she performed at the Opera House for the finals of the national competition.

“It felt like the first time that I was really able to focus, and be nervous – but not so nervous that I was afraid of stuffing up,” she told NITV News.

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“I felt really confident to get up on stage, and tell my story.”

Slam poetry is a type of performance, involving simply the poet, and randomly selected judges from the audience.

Typically, it explores personal experiences, and societal issues.

It was the winner’s ability to seamlessly blend her lived experiences, with broader topics, which seemed to win over her audience.

“My poetry is very much influenced by the fact that I’m an Aboriginal woman… it’s influenced by being an autism mum, my family – my identity plays a huge part in the issues and things I write about,” she said.

“There's always a deep emotional connect to whatever I'm writing about.”

The poem she performed was structured around the metaphor of running, but explored topical issues such as cultural identity, violence against women, racism, and more – all in the space of around two minutes.

“I had just started running with the Darwin Deadly Runners. One of my trainers mentioned- there comes a point in your run, where the only thing you can hear is your footsteps and heartbeat,” she said.

“It was the inspiration for the poem but it becomes a bit deeper.”

Ms Munungurr-Williams will now perform at literary festivals around Australia, and the world – including Canada, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

“I couldn't be happier with the opportunity of being able to represent Australia but also Aboriginal Australia, and Aboriginal women,” she said.

“I'm so proud to go overseas and say, we are a proud people, and these are our accomplishments. We are a force to be reckoned with, and this is who we are, and be prepared to hear more from us.”

Watch Ms Munungurr-Williams on NITV Radio: