Event Recap: Slam Finals

The Slam Finals went down last night at the Metro Cinema (formerly known as the Garneau Theatre). This slam, and the elimination slams that led up to last night, were staged by Edmonton’s own Breath in Poetry Collective. The work they have done to increase awareness and awesomeness of spoken word here in Edmonton is enormous. Before BIP, our slam scene was barely there, murmurs only. Today, it is a fully-fledged scene with an international reputation (the Edmonton team took home the top prize in Canada in 2011). The Edmonton Poetry Festival is immensely proud to once again work with the BIP Collective in hosting the Edmonton Slam Finals.

Photo by Randall Edwards

The Slam Finals consist of three rounds: In each round, the finalist poets read one piece each and are scored by five randomly selected audience judges. The high and low scores were discarded, and the winners were those with the highest cumulative scores. The evening was full of amazing words, and the slam competitors did not disappoint. Host Titilope Sonuga kept the night moving and the crazies at bay.

Photo by Randall Edwards

The first round felt like a warmup. The poets seemed a bit nervous, but kicked out some great words nonetheless. And that nervousness was understandable – the Metro Cinema was fairly full. I don’t have official attendance numbers but I’d say the crowd was at least 200 strong. 200 people! That’s awesome!

Photo by Randall Edwards

After the intermission, we were treated to an amazing performance by the one and only CR Avery, who also happens to be headlining at the Metro Cinema this evening, along with Kris Demeanour and Tanya Davis. That will be an amazing show, so check it out.

CR’s performance was marred by poor sound, but he nonetheless blew up the stage with a thrilling micless performance. It was a taste of how amazing and captivating spoken word can be, and it was an inspiration to all the poets in the audience. In CR’s words, “Edmonton brought back the rhyme. It’s like hip hop fell and spoken word caught it.”

The slam then resumed for the ultimate round, and the poets pulled out the big guns. Much to audience delight, risks were taken and hearts were moved. Gizele performed her final piece in French and it was delicious. Arlo pulled out a brave piece on addiction that demanded rumination. Kaz’s meditation on religion was exquisitely voiced – delightful in its wordplay and complex tumble of rhymes. Rhianna held the audience on the verge of tears. Jan won hearts with a loving, honest tribute to his autistic brother.

And with that, the team was decided in beautiful, peaceful, courageous fashion. Here they are, your amazing 2013 Edmonton Slam Team:

Photo by Randall Edwards

See you all tonight. Are you going to The Olive Reading? Or perhaps taking in some Vintage Poetry? Or, are CR Avery, Tanya Davis, and Kris Demeanour more your speed?

All photos © 2013 Randall Edwards Photography.