The Burlington Finals (or How to Make a Dangerous Slam Team)
The day was Thursday, May 17th, 2012. The venue – much larger than our usual accommodations. We gathered in Hamilton’s Lyric Theatre so that we, for the third year running, could elect five poets to represent Burlington on a national stage.
It should be stated as preface that this show was the single most successful night in the history of the Burlington Slam Project. Not only did we have an enormous open mic, we had a great variety of acts through the evening, with a large and attentive audience, and a slam that no poet involved would dare call an “easy win”. As a competitor in the evening, I almost feel robbed of the chance to just -see- the show that was put on that night.
We opened with the dual hosting of Nea Reid and Yogi Siewrattan, who kept a good vibe and energy flowing through the entire evening. This may be the first time I’ve ever seen an open mic with more performers than the slam itself – coming from all over – From Kitchener to St. Catharines to Ottawa, and some from our own Burlington community – it was a tremendous way to warm up the audience, and what followed ensured that the temperature would not once drop.
There have been a number of Hamilton youth poets emerging in recent months, and I’ve been privileged enough to see some of them perform a few times now. The growth I’ve been seeing is astonishing, and it speaks volumes to the character of these young men and women who have the courage to get up on these stages and share their voices with us. (I sure as hell didn’t have the guts to do that as a teenager…) We were treated to the works of some of these fine young writers, accompanied by a mercurial and engaging interpretive dance, and I think anyone in attendance would agree that Hamilton is no slouch when it comes to producing exceptional talents.
Then came the Aerial dancers.
I think I’d be willing to wager BSP as being the first slam to include an Aerial dance troupe in their night’s proceedings. Three sets of long, coloured strips of cloth had been dangling from the ceiling to the floor all evening. Three women emerged and answered the question we’d all been asking by climbing them, tangling themselves in them, and presenting an incredible display of synchronized motion, physical prowess, and death defiance! Seriously…staged falling was happening, and floors were nearly hit as ropes untangled JUST far enough that nobody heard a single thud. This group, the Hamilton Aerial Group (HAG!) left our entire audience breathless but gasping anyway.
And the slam hadn’t even started yet.
Six poets – Tomy Bewick, Truth Is…, Kay’la Fraser, Lip Balm, Shoolie, and Yours Truly (DAKADMAKAD). Five positions on the team. The bar was set by our dear friend The P.O.E., who provided his work as sacrifice in order to calibrate judges, and many of us are still angry with him for doing so. This was not going to be a walk in the park. Not unless that park was on fire…and full of scorpions…with swords…that were also on fire. Also you would have to wear great big iron boots.
Friends, there were no punches pulled this night. Every poet swung for the fences, and even the long-time veterans were sweating up until the very end. (Well…maybe not Kay’la) Intense performances, some brutal judges (yes!), and a fervent desire to be a part of a team that nobody across Canada would dare take lightly again…this is what a finals SHOULD be. Nobody wanted to see -any- of these poets come 6th. (Well…they may have wanted me to take 6th, I’m a bit of a nuisance)
When the dust settled, the team emerged – Our dear friend Shoolie had fought like hell, and had amazed us all as he so often does, but sadly took the 6th position. I somehow managed to squeak ahead, and am honoured to have earned my place as the team’s alternate. Lip Balm, Tomy Bewick, and Truth Is… became the main body of the 2012 team along with this years Grand-Slam champion – Kay’la “I got this” Fraser. With a potential score out of 90, Kay’la was the only one in the night to get 80 or higher. I don’t think there could be a poet more deserving of that win.
So that’s it folks! Your 2012 Burlington Slam Project team has been decided! We will be repping at SLAMtario in July, as well as going to Charlotte, NC in the States for the US National Poetry Slam in August – Burlington will the be 3rd Canadian city to do so! Beyond that, CFSW will be happening in Saskatoon this year, and Burlington will be hosting the QEW slam in November. Lots of great stuff coming for this team!
Be sure to check out our next slam on June 14th, back home at Philthy McNasty’s, featuring Ahmed Knowmadic with special guest host….ME! Hope to see you all there!