Local hip hop artist Omar Musa is in the running to perform at the Sydney Opera House when he competes in the grand final of Australia’s first national poetry slam in Sydney in December.

The Australian Poetry Slam 07, an initiative of the State Library of NSW, is unearthing the best spoken-word talent in the country via 45 heats, with two finalists from each state and territory battling for the national title on 7December.

“We were thrilled to have some of the ACT’s top performance poets in action at the National Library of Australia,” the manager of the events section, Heidi Pritchard, said today. “The calibre of the competition was extremely high and we are proud of our finalists.” Poet Dennis Wild, who took second place, will also compete in the grand final.

The Australian Poetry Slam 07 winner will perform at a three-day festival of Australian spoken word, Night Words, presented by the popular Sydney Opera House venue, The Studio, from 6-8 March 2008.

The winner will also take home $5 000 cash, making it the richest slam poetry competition in Australia, thanks to the support of The Caledonia Foundation.

Musa fought off 24 local poets and hip hop artists to be one of two ACT representatives in the grand final. He will have just two minutes to impress the national judges (selected at random from the audience) with his work.

The competition is being coordinated via state and public libraries, with professional spoken-word artists running heats and workshops in each state.

“It’s fantastic to see libraries working together to offer a dynamic literary and educational project that encourages people from all walks of life to share their

own stories in their own unique way,” NSW State Librarian & Chief Executive Regina Sutton said.

The Australian Poetry Slam 07 Grand Final will be held on 7 December, from 6.30pm to 9pm, at the State Library of NSW, Macquarie Street, Sydney.

For more information go to www.australianpoetryslam07.org

Media contacts: Yvonne Kennedy 02 6262 1353; 0411 753 891; ykennedy@nla.gov.au

Ellen Peterson, Media Liaison Officer, 02 6262 1571; epeterson@nla.gov.au