13 year-old slam poet, author and performer, Solli Raphael has a lot to say about how he wants to see the world and he does it with style! He first made headlines after becoming Australia’s youngest ever slam poetry champion and had the world captivated when he took the stage at the Commonwealth Games. Now he wants all kids to become game changer s like him and shape their own futures.
What made you decide to go through with your very first slam poetry competition?
I have always loved writing and because I’m home-schooled there aren’t a lot of opportunities when it comes to public speaking, so it was a good way to do more public speaking and to learn more about different styles of not only poetry but creative writing too.
How does slam poetry help you have the confidence to express yourself?
I’ve found that each poetry performance I do helps me to grow more confidence. And with most of my slam poems being about either protecting the environment, or ending deforestation, or raising awareness about inequality or anti-bullying, it has given me confidence because people are willing to listen to what I have to say.
Can you describe how you felt before going on stage at the Commonwealth Games?
Wow! It was incredible! I wasn’t actually nervous on the day, which was strange but good, but for all the months leading up to the ceremony I was so nervous. I have written about how to learn to perform or manage these (nerves) and other emotions in my poetry book Limelight.
By the time it was the Commonwealth Games, I felt that I had done enough events to know how to approach that stage. It was a truly amazing feeling performing in a stadium of 35,000 people and having 1.5 billion pairs of eyes watch me live from around the world.
What things about Australia did you want to celebrate in the poem you recited at the games?
My Commonwealth Games poem ‘To Unite Like Uniting Is A Sport’ was important to me because I went into the games knowing that it was Australia’s turn to show the world just how amazing we are. So I tried to add every aspect I could into the poem, from the beaches to the mountains, the cities to the people and the amazing athletes.
I tried to not only celebrate the Commonwealth Games but also celebrate how important it is to unite as a nation and as a global community. I really wanted people to remember the games with the message “to unite like uniting is a sport”, because if we look at life like we look at sports, we could train to unite like we train to be stronger or fitter, we could celebrate uniting our differences like we celebrate sports winnings, and we could praise every country’s cultures like we praise every player’s skills.
Can you describe your slam poetry style in three words?
Emotive. Inspiring. Purposeful.
This week is Children’s Week, as a young person what issues are most important to you?
I guess this is the hardest question of all because there really are so many issues that are important to me but if I had to pick a few;
- the environment and making sure that we live healthier lifestyles to help the future generations and the future of our planet
- humanity and the fight to stop division and create equality, where the leaders of all countries and nations start looking after their people better than ever before.
- and YOU, as a young person you have the power to shape, create and make a better future for this next generation. So I think it’s important that as the youth generation we all stand up for what we want our future to look like.
You call on readers of your book to “be a game changer”, how are you changing the game?
I believe that I am helping change the game by raising awareness for global issues that really matter to all of our futures. Raising awareness is important because people can’t make a change, or won’t feel that they need to, if they don’t know the facts.
You don’t have to donate a million dollars to charity or become prime minister to make the biggest change, (still good options) because I believe it’s the small things that count so I call upon the youth generation to be a game changer to help resolve these issues.
Solli shows us that we all have something important to say, no matter how young we are. How we change the game depends on what we love to do. Solli is amazing at writing and speaking his poetry, but you could be awesome at painting, coding or gaming. The Bible reminds us to take every part of our life and “do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). What’s a creative way you can share your message with the world today?