Podcast – MSWFO 2020

Mellbourne Spoken Word Festival Online

Welcome to a special edition of Words Out Loud, a podcast addition to the program of the Melbourne Spoken Word Festival Online, which runs until 9 August 2020.

We greatly appreciate those who contributed using whatever recording device was at hand to get these to us. Some have sent images to accompany their works, which can be found below. We were stoked at the number and quality of the contributions, and appreciate the extra distance some were able to go with sound effects and music.

It’s a great note on which to call a temporary halt to regular WOL programming, as COVID-19 continues to make live performance untenable. We will continue to update Facebook with opportunities for poets and short-form writers and will keep our eyes peeled for opportunities to engage with the arts and broader community.

We look forward to resuming our live performances once it is safe to do so, and wish everyone good health and good writing.




Your hosts:
Jason Nahrung
Kirstyn McDermott (also tech wizard)


  • The Masque of the Red Death, by Edgar Allan Poe, performed by Jason Nahrung, Talie Helene (details below) [starts at 1:50]
  • Megan J Riedl, Circuit Work; Social Distancing; End of Days Soundtrack (Haiku); Adapting (Haiku); Memories of Touch (Haiku); In Her Shoes (Haiku); Pivoting (Haiku); Chrysalis (music: bensound.com) [7:55]
  • Indrani Perera, The Problem; The Shift; But what does it mean? (pic below) [13:30]
  • Phoebe Perera (age 10), The Secret (pic below) [16:25]
  • Earl Livings, Decision in a Foreign City; Red Kites Ascending: Corris, Wales, Spring 2015 (pic below) [17:35]
  • Lauren M Hancock, Depression: A Realisation [22:20]
  • Michael Pardy, Hubcaps (pic below) [24:15]
  • Melissa Watts, George and the Vegans [27:40]
  • Richard Minus One, One Day (pic below) [31:10]
  • Rhonda Cotsell, White Fragility [34:05]
  • Dave Munro, Wearing My Father’s Hat; In Defence of More [37:45]
  • Bernadette Cheesman, …cousin… (potentially unsettling adult content) [40:45]
  • Laura E Goodin, Wild Hope (read by, and music composed and played by, Maggie Dunleavy) [42:15]
  • Jackson Cass, Dancing in My Mind [48:30]
  • Neville Hiatt, Make Believe [49:50]
  • Kirstyn McDermott, Youth Is Wasted on the Young [51:10]
  • Fraser Mackay, The Prisoner of Escape (instrumental backing, qua qua; French vocals, Laetitia Thorne) [55:40]

Theme music: Birdy Rix by Rasputin at looperman.com


Art by Estelle Moughton

‘The Masque of the Red Death’:
is an arrangement of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, originally published in 1842. This interactive composition rendition features spoken word performed by Jason Nahrung, with voice recording by Kirstyn McDermott, and music and sound design by Talie Helene. The work holds Poe’s story up as a prism for viewing the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Poe lived through tuberculosis and cholera pandemics, and he experienced great personal bereavements — his story shows us how little has changed, and how science is not as omnipotent as we perhaps thought; the masquerade ball echoes our dysfunctionally danced suppression strategy; issues of classism are as relevant today as they were in the nineteenth century; and the ebony clock chiming balefully stands as massive as the ICU ventilator in our collective anxiety. You can read the full story here. – Talie Helene

Megan J Riedl has been capturing the COVID experience in poetry on her Facebook and Instagram pages.

Indrani Perera is publisher of the Pocketry Almanack. Her collection Pas De Deux was published last year by Ginninderra Press.

Neville Hiatt has poetry videos at LBRY and YouTube

Fraser Mackay has a new collection, The Sudden Quiet—Selected Poems, out with Ginninderra Press. Watch a video of ‘Prisoner of Escape’ at YouTube


Art by Estelle Moughton to accompany Talie Helene’s treatment of Poe’s classic, read by Jason Nahrung


Words are on Indrani Perera’s mind.


The garden holds secrets for Phoebe Perera


Shakespeare and Co, alive in the memory of Earl Livings


A market stall selling hubcaps sets a scene for Michael Pardy


A passer-by for Richard Minus One’s lake-side business meeting.


A new collection from Fraser Mackay