April’s IWPS Extravagarbanzo Bean Write Up!
Kaboom and such! KerBLAM and what not! It was all big and explosion…y…
We had a brilliant night of poetry at our first EVER IWPS qualifier. It was a 1-2-3 format slam, which meant 3 rounds, 1 minute poems, 2 minute poems, and 3 minute poems – a nice change of pace in our little noise-chamber!
I got the night started with a short donkey-related poem by CR Avery and brought in our first open mic’er – Gallinger the Challenger who came in droppin’ a hip-hop inspired love poem with a suave feel and a smooth flow. Next up was Andrew Johnston givin’ us a poem about the things we don’t say and a poem syllabically inspired by the digits of Pi. Finally, Toronto youth-poet powerhouse Twoey Gray gave us a piece called “Hollywood can Suck It” about the lack of non-heteronormative relationships and love represented in Hollywood films.
And then into the slam! I willingly spilled a little blood to get the night started and we kicked into gear!
Ifrah Hussein – one of the toughest competitors of the night as well as our WoWps representative – came in with her always sobering piece about Female genital mutilation in Africa, her raw and undecorated piece listing terrorists who look nothing like her (who, for reference’s sake, is a Black Muslim Woman), and a staggering piece that can best be described by its opening line, which also happens to be:
Ifrah’s stand-out line of the night: “No one supplicates to God until they believe Heaven is safet than this world.”
Next up was Eddie Dean, telling stories with a swagger, and calling truth to their people. Eddie treated us to a frustrating story about a hungry young boy being accosted by a man for stealing a fish from his pond, along with a sharply honest examination of their own social anxiety, and a poem to “all my fine flowers” – a shout of solidarity to their fellow late-bloomers.
Eddie’s stand-out line of the night: “Property means that the pond stays full while bellies stay empty”
Comin’ up next was BSP team member Sebastian with an earnestly sad piece about ghosts that describes itself as a cry to those who are lost. Followed with a quick and punchy condemnation of the casting of Scarlet Johanssen as an Asian lead character in the upcoming Ghost in the Shell film, and finished off with an EXPLOSIVE piece titled “To the white people offended by conversations about race” That about says it, doesn’t it?
Sebastian’s stand-out line of the night: “This is what it feels like to have someone tell stories about your skin tone and call it non-fiction”
Korey With a K, also a BSP team member, hit us up next with a stirringly beautiful love poem, followed with a dark, creepy, and sinister-building piece that creates an uncomfortable tension until he lets us know it’s about the art of cow tipping, and closed off his night with a haunting look at the way men are raised and how that often leads to domestic abuse in their adult lives.
Korey’s stand-out line of the night: “Like the hurricane whose ferocious winds were once soft breezes on warm summer nights, he was a boy”
Next up was a newcomer to the Burlington Slam Project – calling himself only “Jon” – we were treated to some poetry that sounded like anything -but- a newcomer. First up was a piece about being a person of mixed-race feeling divided from his family & peers. Next up was an encouraging story about the power of listening and learning, the character in which was able to overcome his own inherent misogyny by doing just that. And finally – a story about a priest throwing a birthday party for a prostitute who’d never had one – which turned out to be a beautiful parable about being Christ-like, rather than simply Christian.
Jon’s stand-out line of the night: “I never planned on being your token brown baby”
Last up? Team Captain and volcano-faced BSP founder Tomy Bewick bringin’ a lot of new work (and a general disregard for time limits) – a point-form autobiography constructed of the names he’s been given and called throughout his life. Next up, a poem listing a whole lot of the kind of bullshit that comes spewing from the mouths of the racist, stylistically quite similar to his first poem, but engaging completely different sensibilities. Finally, he treated us to a piece called “Gossip, Baby”about…well…about Gossip, baby.
Tomy’s stand-out line of the night: “Generous Lover” – I feel he insisted we all know that.
Along with this monster slam, we also had a MEGA feature from Toronto’s Scribe who, before anything else, made sure we were all nice and loud. As someone who’s had an eye on Scribe since he started, it was pretty awesome to have him come feature at our slam. He got right to work with an Ode to his home, Scarborough, the goods and the not-so-goods
(On Black Barbershops) “to the only place where a blade to your throat is not a threat but a service”
Next up was a poem constructed of prompts given to him months ago by myself and Twoey Gray – “I remember my last homecoming before I re-learned gratitude”
Then a piece about racial profiling- “To this day, I wonder when earth toned skin cloaked in the shade of deep space will be safe from those tinted by borrowed sunlight.”
followed with a love poem like a one-two punch and hug – “Love is an ocean, and that sounds like a lazy metaphor until we realize that we know more about the Universe than we do about the Atlantic”
A piece about his Grandfather who had recently passed – “As long as the sun shines and the shores are tugged by the tides, a party of you will be alive in me”
Next up came his slam-regulars – an address to Martin Luther King about the conflict between his anger as a black man in the face of racism, but his belief in non-violence as a Christian – “Every time the world calls me King, I’m not sure if they’re calling for my coronation or my crucifixion”
A piece about his little brother believing that being brown-skinned disqualified him from being a prince – “This bullet, racial inferiority, was not one I could take for him.”
And he closed his set with a piece warning against allowing self-doubt to keep us from greatness. – “To be great, one must excavate themselves.”
All in all, a huge, powerful set – absolutely fitting of such a big competition. Scribe’s performance was dynamic, personal, and deeply moving. We were happy to have him.
And, I guess there’s one last detail remaining – the identity of our winner, and who will be the first ever representative of the Burlington Slam Project at the Individual World’s Poetry Slam.
Taking 1st place, and earning the rep spot is none other than our own Sebastian Chong. We at the BSP are enormously proud of his victory, as well as the monumental effort put forward by all of our competitors. This was a beautiful night.
See y’all next month.