You don\u2019t need to follow the sun to find anything. Here in the dark the sky is weeping from its heavy burden of liquid star blood."\r\n(Starblood, Candy Royalle)\r\nAt Parramatta\u2019s Mars Hill Cafe, people squash together to hear Candy Royalle say the things they only have the courage to think.\u00a0Candy Royalle isn\u2019t like other poets. Her mass of brown dreadlocks and Middle Eastern features make her look as if she is above and beyond every stereotype the people of Western Sydney have ever known. It\u2019s not enough for Candy to leave people laughing and crying at the same time after one of her performances.\r\n\r\nAlong with the founder of the Australian Poetry Slam, Miles Merrill and other talented poets, Candy shares her skills with young people in Western Sydney to inspire them to tell their stories in a way mainstream media cannot:\u00a0\u201cTo be voiceless is to be powerless so obviously the opposite is true - it is absolutely empowering to be able to tell our own stories in our own voices,\u201d she tells me, in her characteristically melodic tone.\r\nThere\u2019s no doubt Spoken Word Poetry \u00a0is growing in the west, the number of venues and events is constantly expanding - from the Bankstown, Granville and Parramatta slams to other one off events in Western Sydney.\u201d\r\nSlam Poet Ahmad Al-Rady in action...\r\n\r\nAnd one visit to the Bankstown Poetry Slam is all you need to prove Candy right.\u00a0In its earliest incarnation Spoken Word Poetry was used by the Ancient Greeks to praise their gods and criticize their government thorough entertainment.\u00a0In 1984 a group of budding poets gathered to tell their stories at Chicago\u2019s Get Me High Lounge where Spoken Word poetry was reborn as Slam Poetry or Slam as it is better known.\r\n\r\nSlam is not about grammar or \u00a0poetic devices and is judged according to the bond each poet builds with the audience. Slam is not the poetry of class rooms, academics or isolated social groups. Slam is the poetry of the people.\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s no surprise then that it spread quickly in Sydney, where Slam veterans like Tug Dumbly and Miles Merrill battled for bragging rights at the most trendy venues in town.\u00a0But it wasn\u2019t until recently that Slam poetry began to find it\u2019s roots in the West, where young men like Ahmad Al-Rady insisted he would be heard.\r\n\r\nIn the words of Miles Merrill, Ahmad recognized Western Sydney needed a soapbox, so the 23 year old went about building one.\u00a0In the heart of one of the most negatively stereotyped suburbs in Western Sydney, Ahmad organised a Poetry Slam where he could listen to the untold stories of his community.\r\n\r\n"I believe we all have stories, opinions and experiences to share, that's what makes us unique,\u201d he wrote to me,\u00a0\u201cand that's why I believe poetry slams and spoken word is very important. Providing a medium for the aforementioned, facilitating dialogue, sharing struggles and highlighting similarities between others.\u00a0We started the slam because we love poetry slams and there wasn't a single -permanent slam in the Western Sydney area - so Sara Mansour (co-founder) and I decided to start our own.\u201d\r\n\r\nWhat happened next was beyond Ahmad's wildest dreams. Within months the number of the people in the audience doubled and then tripled. Today, the Bankstown Poetry Slam can have over 250 audience members.\r\n\r\nYet the most moving aspect of the audience is its diversity. There, in a suburb that was described in by writer Ian Lloyd Neubauer in an article for Time World as a \u201cMiddle Eastern ghetto terrorized by members of its community," all creeds of people sit side by side laughing, crying and clapping loudly.\u00a0The truth of Western Sydney is reflected in the rainbow of cultures celebrating life, love and their right to be heard at the Bankstown Poetry Slams.\r\n\r\nIt was the work by people like Miles Merrill and his organisation Word Travels, \u00a0that began the movement of bringing poets together to teach. Initiatives like The Rumble, a youth based Poetry Slam held in Blacktown, teach the youth of Western Sydney to find their voice to work through the issues that can that lead to drinking, violence and race crime they don\u2019t often have the spaces to discuss.\r\n\r\nWith the infectious energy that makes him memorable, Miles told me about the young man who had lost his mother and would not talk about it to his teachers or counselors.\r\n\r\n\u201cHe was writing about it,\u201d Miles said, still awed by the power of words,\u00a0\u201che hadn\u2019t spoken to anyone about it for a month.\u201d\r\n\r\nThough he had never written before, that young man picked up a pen and decided to begin his journey towards healing by writing his own narrative.\r\n\r\nOver coffee, my childhood friends chat excitedly while I scrawl on the \u00a0notepad in front of me. They don\u2019t talk about anger, gang violence or hate crimes. \u00a0Instead I smile as they relive the first time they ever heard me perform my poetry and when they will visit the Bankstown Poetry Slam. I pick up my pen and choose to start our journey towards healing by writing our narrative.\r\n***\r\nThe Bankstown Poetry Slam will be launching an anthology of their best poems for 2013 later this month. You can find out more here.