The Official Bio
Alabama-raised Ebony MonCrief is a writer, performance poet, speaker and MC who has recently commenced post-graduate studies in international community development. She hosts the open mic Voices in the Attic, held in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD. Her work has been featured throughout Victoria and she has competed at the national Australian Poetry Slam held at the Sydney Opera House. In August, Ebony made her stage debut in Poetic License, a collaborative theater production inspired by the ancient Greek play, Aristophanes’ The Frogs.
Her writing style mainly falls under the category of confessional, where she uses the written art form as a way to share a vulnerable and intimate look into her experiences, her beliefs, and to initiate change from within. She believes this type of vulnerability is one of the essential keys to personal growth. Her vibrant storytelling style engages, entertains and provides audiences with a honest look at the person behind the words.
As so many of my deep friendships begin, I met Ebony on air. It was the last episode of Aural Text on 3RRR (my fourteen-year long spoken word and books show on radio), and I put a call out for ‘awesome new voices’. Word got around and Ebony was suggested. Many times. She did not disappoint. She is a choreographer of words. Elegant. Her poems are on a trip wire balancing: extending, breathing, elongating emotions and taking your heart home on a candy stick. She admits her poems are confessionals and there is an honesty in her work that is so intimate and pleasurable because you always want to know more. There is also a kindness to her nature, whether MC-ing at Ferdydurke or talking to younger poets (or jaded older ones), she just exudes kindness. This egoless stage presence is part of the awesomeness that is Ebony, and the rest is just complete and utter talent and craft.
I started falling in love with words when…
I had no one else to talk to. When I felt all alone. My pen and paper were there to help me not feel so lonely.
I love being able to manipulate words. I completely deconstruct language and grammar using words to tell a story in any manner: direct, indirect, first person, third person, through a tree, through an animal, through the idea of something, through the living and the dead, the concrete; the abstract. Through words you can create any reality you want.
The first time I knew I was hooked was…
I suppose I’ve always been hooked. Just secretly at first. I lived in so much doubt about my love for words and writing that it hindered me. I compared myself and my work to everyone else, never thinking I could be good enough. The first time I stopped caring was the night I sat in my bedroom crying for reasons I had yet to come to terms with. So much emotion had been boiling inside me, and when it came up without warning I was forced to face it. That poem was the most personal piece of writing I had ever written. The night after I wrote it, I went to my very first slam. I didn’t care about winning or anyone’s approval, I just felt I had to share it to allow the words and the pain to no longer exist inside me. Words became healing and I stopped comparing myself to others and their work, because a greater purpose was being served for me.
Poetry (or spoken word) means…
Vulnerability. Strength. Presence. Expression. Style. Honesty. Music. Manipulation. Play with language. Something different for each writer.
Other poets I adore are…
Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsberg, Ray Lamontagne, Gil Scott-Heron, Sharon Olds, Ezra Pound, Khalil Gibran, Walt Whitman, Wendell Berry.
I love the sounds of…
Rain, rivers, Spanish guitar. The piano. Dame Judi Dench’s voice. My partner’s laugh. Keys on a typewriter. Children’s random conversations. Silence.
If I could tell you one thing…
Life has a purpose but you have to create it for yourself.
Alicia Sometimes is an Australian writer, poet, musician, co-host of 3RRR’s Aural Text and a past editor and long-standing contributor of Going Down Swinging.