The Burlington Slam Project – 9 Years Old
Please allow me a moment to tell a little story.
Back in April of 2010, a younger, more timid me walked nervously into The Black Bull Pub on Guelph Line looking for a short blonde guy in glasses I’d seen in a Cogeco interview. I introduced myself and said I’d like to sign up to read something. It was that simple.
This thing had been running for almost a couple years already, and they were a month away from putting together their first ever national team (one who would go on to place 4th nationally, I might add). And already, the energy was electric. Warm and kind and welcoming. It scared me. People were there I’d seen on youtube…people like Truth Is…, Jillian Christmas, Kay’la Fraser, Tomy Bewick, Duffman…I had watched these people do poetry on the internet (way before Button Poetry was a thing, kids), so I was a little starstruck. And I had signed up to read. So I read my own piece in public in front of a room full of strangers, which was the closest I would ever get to skydiving, and when I landed, they cheered. They applauded and smiled and laughed and cheered and I felt like a room was hugging me close. A young woman named Lishai who had only started within the last year came and spoke to me with nothing but the kindest words. I felt at home. I felt wanted and welcome and loved.
That feeling, above all else, is what The Burlington Slam Project is. 7 years later, with this thing turning 9, I now co-organize the event with that same short blonde guy in glasses I’d seen in a Cogeco interview, and my goal has always been to put out the same kind of energy I felt on that day; to welcome everyone and let them know they and their words are welcome and appreciated, and the rest of the community has followed suit. We are loud, even in small numbers, we are weird, we are warm, and we welcome you. We are the parachute, so jump already. We’ve got you.
This event has existed for nearly a decade, through all the beauty and bullshit that contains, it has stayed true to a core truth – that there be a place for those with something to say to get up and say it. And that’s not just because of me. That’s not just because of Tomy Bewick. That’s because of every single person who has walked in our door. That’s because of the brilliant feature poets who come, month after month, and show our local writers the levels that can be achieved in this art. That’s because of Laird and the rest of The Black Bull. That’s because of the people who have been trying to scream in the muffling silence of polite living. That’s because things are still ONLY TEN DOLLARS. That’s because of those who are starting to blur the lines between community and family. That’s because of those who are here to speak. That’s because of those who are here to listen. All of you. Every single one of you is why The Burlington Slam Project still puts out that hug to the scared younger versions of future people who are trembling in front of a microphone for the first time.
Thank you all.