Monthly Archives: March 2017

Countdown to Finals: Zero Hour

Today is the day of our 8th annual season finals! Who will be this year’s team I wonder? And to cap it all off, we’ve got our last two interviews!

Interview #9: Sebastian

D: You’re one of the more prolific writers in the scene…almost always seen with new work, and fully memorized work at that – how do you manage to keep that up?

S: In the past its because i work very odd hours, i’d say. when the chief concern is staying awake at late hours, one of the easiest strategies i’ve found is talking to myself when my store is empty. when i started coming out to slams, it became a very useful opportunity to get good practice time in. in terms of always having something new i attribute that to having a smart device. its hard always having a notebook on person, but having my google drive in my pocket means i can always work on something whenever i have any amount of free time

D: You’re looking at possibly your third national team – how do you like your chances? Is there anybody in the competitors list you’d like to work with?

S: i’ve learned to never consider myself in until im in actually lol. last year i felt exceptionally confident about myself in my writing and i wouldnt have made it then had ifrah not declined to be a team mate. so i guess i just try to think about it like anything can happen in slam and its not like i have a good track record of winning slams in the first place lol. in terms of people id like to work with, i always look forward to working with past team mates because working with them is always fun, but working with new people would be exciting, too. in like a really scary ‘i wonder what might happen’ way

D: Do you have anything up your sleeve for finals?

S: the only trick i have is to always come with exactly what i want to do. if i have learned anything in my short amount of time playing this game theres no strategy better than putting up the work you are most excited to share

D: Do you have any advice for new writers?

S: the advice of “always be writing” only sounds tired because it is true. everyone gives it only because everyone understands its importance. no art can be made without the constant work that needs to be done to make it.


Interview #10: Tomy Bewick

D: The Fearless Leader of the Burlington Slam, and the most decorated slam poet in the listings. How many teams have you been on now? What keeps you joining them?

T: How many teams? Yikes – I’ve tried to keep track in my bio; over 15 team comps at least; some years on 2 different teams for different festivals…. I keep joining because creating with others is the coolest process with most reward. Creating something collaborative can be challenging, unpredictable and at times tense; but the potential for new group work; to contribute and counsel other artists in their writing and performance; the thrill still gets me when you get it just right

D: What’s been the most exciting thing about this past slam season for you?

T: This past season has seen the rise of several new voices, including many women hitting our mic for their first time. It’s worth mentioning  due to slam being a predominantly male dominated playing field for so long, and in burlington specifically, where local voices are sometimes far and few between; it is a nice change and an important evolution to see and hear more women’s voices, stories and perspectives in our slam’s circle.

D: Is there anybody on the competitors list you’d really like to work with?

T: the reality is that i’d like to work with anyone who wants it. the people most inspired and hungry to create new works are who I’m most keen to be on a team with. there’s almost no telling who that will be until we get there; but i’ve had positive experiences with Korey and Sebastian and would be willing to grow on those bonds, but also; the new voices that have come out swinging for the fences; that’s an exciting prospect as well!

D: Do you have any advice for new writers?

T: the scariest moment is always right before you start. trust yourself; don’t hold back. remember that editing comes after the writing is poured out of you, and that the only way to grow into the writer you want to be is to keep on writing, even when you think you’ve got nothing. come check out a hywire workshop and find out how.


That’s it for our interviews! I hope you’ve enjoyed them! Come on out tonight, Thursday March 16th, and see which 4 of these 10 poets will become The Burlington Slam Project’s 8th National Team.

Countdown to Finals: 2 Days Remain

The penultimate set of interviews! Here we go!

Interview #7:Kelsey

D: You’ve been a volunteer and behind-the-scenes element to the BSP for years. How does it feel to be attending finals as a competitor?

K: I am so excited to be attending BSP as a competitor! I never thought that this was going to happen, so Im pumped!

D: Who would you be most excited to work with of all the other competitors?

K: I would be most excited to work with Mel. Its been amazing seeing her come out to the slam as spectator, to hitting the stage for the first time, to bringing hot fire to the mic! Im also all for having more female voices, so yea!

D: What would you be most excited to get out of a team experience?

K: I would be most excited to write team pieces! I havent had the opportunity to do that yet, despite having some team piece ideas, so this would give me a chance to move forward

D: Do you have any advice for new writers?

K: My advice for new writers: just start writing. DO IT! And when you think you might be ready to share, push yourself to get on the mic. Its scary, but it does get easier.


Interview #8: Spencer

D: This is your first finals competition. How are you feeling about the competition and your chances? Is there anything that slamming this season has taught you?

S: I’m going in with very low expectations. I began seriously writing in March 2016 and the development of my own writing has been reward enough for me. Having the opportunity to perform with other amazing poets is reward in itself. Slamming this season really challenged me to break away from my traditional writing structure and topic selection. I challenged myself to be less reliant on rhyming and focus on creating a smooth flowing piece. The first slam I went to in Burlington (which was also my first slam ever) struck me deep and I told myself that one day I want to write like the rest of you guys. From this season I learned it’s important to have your own voice and write about things which speak to you. Not everyone is going to like everything you write and the points are just a good place to gauge your work, but not the be-all-end-all of a poetry slam. It’s about sharing art, not so much about deciding who is the best. That is something I was a little naive during my first couple attendances. I kind of switched to writing for myself and if I am really able to captivate what I’m trying to say well at least someone in the audience will appreciate it, even if it’s my mom or best friends haha.

D: Of all the competitors, who would you be most excited to work with?

S: Sebastian’s style has had the most amount of influence on my work. I like his use of running metaphors and his stage presence is phenomenal. He was the one who inspired me the most initially but I’d be incredibly thrilled to work with any of the poets who made it to the finals, they all have had poems which still stick in my head. They are all truly amazing. Not to down play myself but I do feel like I’m the weakest link but I am new and if anything it’ll be a learning experience.

D: What do you think are your greatest strength and weakness as a slam poet?

S: My greatest strength is that I write in a way where it is very easy to understand what I’m trying to say and where I’m coming from. I try to keep my pace a bit slower and use accessible language but still keep it colourful in a way. My weakness is in my stage presence. I have no background in performing and I’ve only recently transitioned from writing page poetry to something that is performed. It’s something that will come with practice and with time

D: Do you have any advice for new writers?

S: Edit your work, especially when you are in a different mind set. I initially did not do much editing and let the original speak for itself. I found that if I approach a piece later when my thought process is different not only can I improve the flow but I can also come up with new ways of saying things. Also do not be afraid to go out of your comfort zone and try something new. Experiment with new poetic devices, metaphors and styles. What speaks to me the most from other people’s work is hearing things I would have never come up with myself.

Countdown to Finals: 3 Days Remain

Here we go with the next round of interviews!

Interview #5: Gallinger the Challenger

D: How are you feeling about competing in finals? How about the rest of the season?

G: I’m excited and humble to be competing in the finals, I know i not the strongest poet hitting the stage but I’m constantly working on my craft and aiming to elevate my performance!

D: Of all the competitos, who would you be most excited to work with?

G: Tomy Bewick, Sebastian, Korey with a K

D: You tend to lean towards a hip-hop style – who are the biggest influences on your writing?

G: Biggest influences: Nas, Damian Marley,Eminem, Dre,Biggie,Tupac,Guru Big L, Jurassic 5, Roots,Fugees, Kos, Prince EA, Tomy Bewick, Dan Murray, Brandon Williamson. All these artists work wizardry with their words. Not only are rapping or making poetry but they’re weaving together positive messages and messages of overcoming struggle through out there works which is truly inspiring for me!

D: Do you have any advice for new writers?

G: Once you start writing chances are you wont stop because it becomes a part of you. It becomes very therapeutic you can put all your thoughts and ideas on blank canvas. No one can judge them; no one will poke fun at them. It’s a safe space for you to put your most personal experiences your secrets, your desires, your goals and in doing so this may create focus and balance in your life. You will find it becomes magical release to alleviate the pressures and stress of every day life. So just pick up the pen and write it, don’t fight it! Lastly whatever you write will be here forever. It’s your legacy and when you’re long gone and someone else stumbles upon your work. They will get a snap shot in time and can experience what you experienced. Sympathize with your situations or it my even inspire them to make change and create change or even change their situation. This life is your story, your legacy so share it with the world! You only get one life. So don’t be shy write it out for everyone to see eventually.


Interview #6: Mind the Gap

D: Mind the Gap! We’ve seen you around the Burlington Slam for some years now. How has your experience been overall? What keeps you returning to the stage?

M: People are mostly nice to me more so than other venues and I get like normal scores, usually not under 7…

D: Is there anybody in the competition you would particularly like to work with?

M: I prefer to Volaré from everyone as nature dictates.

D: Your writing and performance style defy what typically “does well” in slams. What makes you stick to your guns in the face of that?

M: I think everyone should use knowledge and the truth to help others even if it disturbs them at moments.

D: Do you have any advice for new writers?

M: I would say just don’t stop, even if nothing is inspiring or necessary, or if you are just feeling blocked: try journaling in stream of consciousness.

Countdown to Finals: 4 Days Remain

Here we go with another round of interviews! This time it’s Carson, and Korey with a K!

Interview #3: Carson

D: You’re one of a significant number of poets who are doing finals for the first time, how do you feel about your chances of making the team?

C: Making the team? Not very good, but this is only my first year, and I come for practice. Maybe next year!!

D: What most would you like to get out of a team experience? What have you gotten from the seasonal slam experience thus far?

C: I enjoy the atmosphere.  I’m hoping to meet some good people and make some solid friends.

D: Is there anybody in this competition you would particularly like to work with?

C: I don’t know anyone well enough yet. I’d like to work with someone who has a similar view of the world as I do.

D: Anybody who’s work particularly inspires you then?

C: Honestly the guest poets we have are some of the most captivating speakers I’ve seen. I like everyone’s work though, I’d rather find someone who enjoys my work because I’m not particularly bias, so I enjoy everyone’s poetry

D: Do you have any advice for new writers?

C: Read a dictionary! Lol


Interview #4: Korey with a K

D: In a competition that is often packed with descriptions of traumas and hugely serious, heavy content – while you don’t necessary shy away from that content if you don’t want to – you tend to give your work a comedic edge. Why is that? What do you think its effect is?

K: I don’t use my work to process my own struggles.  I view poetry as contemplative, thought provoking and whimsical. I find that most of my honest work is naturally comedic, as I am. I cherish the ability to process with others in a way that is honest and full of joy… and sarcasm. Also I hear a lot of serious stuff so I figure why not balance the scales, bring something fresh?

D: This could be your third national team, having worked with Tomy Bewick and Sebastian before, is there anybody in the competition you’d like the chance to work with?

K: There’s one who’s brand new, came around the same time as Mel, she is tiny and hopeful. I can’t remember her name.

D: I believe her name is Bax, though she’s not in the finals competition.

K: Oh damn. Then no one. Hahaha. You know I don’t know…Twoey Gray. She’s got some serious bars and isn’t shy on the mic. I am intimidated by her presence at any slam, I’d really like to learn from her.

D: She’s also not in finals

K: Oh! Mind the Gap 100%. She plays by her own rules, doesn’t know the meaning of writing boundaries and sometimes I don’t think she cares if the audience is there or not. I think we would work well together

D: If you made the team, what would you like your focus to be this year?

K: The Brady Bunch. Did they know they’d have enough people in their family to fill a 3 x 3 grid, or is there a dirty secret they’re hiding under those perfect smiles?

D: Perhaps that’s why they hired a maid

K: The plot thickens. Hmm.. last year was team pieces, the year before was just getting my feet wet. This year I want to seriously focus on comedy writing, and bringing that to the team dynamic. I’m starting to mature as a writer, and I’m not afraid of sarcasm any more. I play the game to change the game

D: Do you have any advice for new writers?

K: Keep a pen on you at all times.

Countdown to Finals: 5 Days Remain

Hey y’all! Dan Murray here with something kinda different this time around. We’ve got 10 competitors for this year’s finals (Happening Thursday, March 16th) – and I have conducted some interviews with each of them to learn a little bit about how they’re feeling leading up to the big event! So from now until Thursday, I’ll be posting two interviews a day, and you can learn a little bit about the poets on our stage.

Interview #1: Mel

D: Of all the competitors on the list, you are the newest to the slam game, and yet you have a commanding lead in the seasonal points. Did you have any idea you’d be dominating the Burlington Slam so immediately? How does it feel?

M: I had no idea that I would have such a positive response to my poetry! Part of the reason why I didn’t slam but still attended is because I was so damn nervous. But my poetry revolves around a lot of heavy and emotional things I’ve dealt with in my life and it has become very therapeutic. I think that feeling is more important to me because I’ve been presented with a lot of meaningful conversations. The BSP community is amazing and it feels really shocking to me to be in lead. I had no idea this would be the outcome.

D: Because of your seasonal score, you’ll be going into finals with no handicap whatsoever. Do you feel positive about your chances of making the team?

M: I think so! I am slamming against some amazing poets, so I can only hope for the best.

D: Is there anybody competing in finals who you’d really like to work with in a team setting?

M: Yes! I have watched Sebastian slam over the last year or so and I think he is brilliant. I feel like we have different styles and techniques and it would be interesting to see the influence we have on each other.

D: Do you have any advice for new writers?

M: Hahaha. Just do it! Do the open mic! It is so scary but it’s so rewarding. It is such a good opportunity to learn about yourself as a writer and a performer. The BPS is the perfect place to do it. Everyone is so supportive. If you’re not interested in performing, just come to BPS to listen and talk to the performers. It makes a world of a difference and can really get your creativity flowing.


Interview #2: Reema

D: This is your first finals with us! How are you feeling? How has your experience been at BSP this season?

R: My experience with BSP has been pretty surprising! I didn’t realize I would make the WOWPS playoffs or the Finals – I come from a really big scene so it is always surprising to place in anything. I am REALLY excited to compete, though!

D: Is there anybody in the competition you would particularly like to work with?

R: I WOULD BE SUPER EXCITED TO WORK WITH SEBASTIAN! He is such a gem and it would be super fun to talk about Race/Culture. He and Korey with a K are hilarious.

D: Were you to make the team, what would you hope to get out of the experience? What do you think would be the greatest asset you could contribute?

R: Honestly, if I were to make the team, I think the opportunity to work with other poets and have my work go through multiple artists would mean that it would grow. I think my openness to feedback and sense of humour would be assets to the team (incidentally, that sounds a lot like a cover letter, eh?).

D: Do you have any advice for new writers?

R: You don’t need to share everything you write, but write as much as you can. It doesn’t have to be perfect, or even very good by your own standards, but get it down, and then edit. Also, hold yourself accountable for your work – your work is an extension of you.


That’s all for today! I’ll be posting a couple interviews every day up to and including Thursday! Right up till the big event! So keep checking back!