The Slam Finals
A slam poetry scene (and team) have been sorely missing from this town, despite it being replete with manifold enclaves of verse. We’ve got your academic circles covered, and your beat-inspired riffs covered. We’ve got your mellow, gentle crowd and your story slammers. But a fo-real slam scene we’ve never had until now. The cats down at the Breath in Poetry Collective have been working tirelessly to build E-Town’s slam scene into something worth bragging about. On Thursday night, they staged a EPF-sponsored event that kicked supreme ass. Here’s the story with some pics from the event. All photos are by Randall Edwards.
For the past few months, the Breath in Poetry Collective have been holding poetry slams on Tuesday nights down at the Rouge Lounge on 117st, just off Jasper. These events had a serious purpose: to choose a slam team to represent Edmonton in Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, held in Ottawa in October 2010.
The slams have been elimination-style with the best artists advancing further in the competition. If you’re not familiar with “slam poetry”, it’s a high-energy, competitive form of poetry and spoken word. Typically, poets are given a three minute time limit and they are given scores by randomly-selected judges. After a few rounds (i.e. a poet may be required to read more than once), the scores are tallied and a winner is crowned. Usually there’s a cash prize involved.
Although not 100% required for competition, some slam poets have their work memorized. This increases the level of audience engagement as it’s just the artist and a microphone. Any way you slice it, slam is not an art for the faint of heart.
The existence of a true slam scene is a huge step forward for the city’s poetry scene at large. It puts us in a position to compete with the big dogs – Vancouver, Toronto, and Calgary. No guff, this is the real deal. We’re on the map with regards to spoken word.
The top five poets from Thursday’s slam form the Edmonton Slam Team. Here they are: Mary Pinkoski, Chris Krueger, Ahmed Ali, Ify Chiwetelu, and the over all winner, Titi Sonuga, who put on an extraordinary show. Congratulations to all the poets who competed, and hella big yeahs to the five stars who will do E-Town proud in Ottawa. 3-2-1 BREATHE.