Category Archives: News

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!

A Quick Catch-Up

Hey all! The season is well underway at the Burlington Slam Project! We’ve only got two slams remaining before our finals in March, so if you want a spot on the team, make sure you’ve slammed AT LEAST twice during our competitive season!

I’d like to take this moment to offer a HUGE congratulations! Our 2017 Women of the World Poetry Slam (WoWPS) Representative will be:

CASSANDRA MYERS!

The indomitable presence that is Cassandra Myers won our qualifier slam for this opportunity back in November against some seriously tough competition, including Toronto dynamo Reema, GPS team member and CFSW champ Elise, and her two fellow Ragdolls, Londzo and Twoey Gray. We at the Burlington Slam could not be more proud to have her represent our scene at this magnificent and important event! Best of luck Cassandra! We can’t wait to hear the stories you come back with!

I’d also like to take this moment to congratulate two of our slammers – Korey with a K and Sebastian Chong for being the first poets to pre-qualify for our Individual World Poetry Slam qualifier! Both of these dashing lads have slammed thrice this season and earned the chance to compete to see who will get to represent Burlington at IWPS this year. Over the next few months, a number of big competitors will be joining them though, so it’s not going to be easy!

Third Thursday! See y’all then!

Clever Title about June Poetry Slam

Alright, so it’s not the best title. But aren’t I so against the grain?

We had a slam in June! Yes we did! Hosted for the first time ever by the adorably adorable and hilariously hilarious Sebastian Chong, who kept the energy up, the judges’ fingers flipping, and the night moving moving moving!

Our open mic kicked in with Sebastian reading a selection of Franny Choi poems, followed by our friend Andrew dropping a serious limerick, and taking us on a poetic canoe trip. Sean Muirhead gave us a story about a trip to a winter cabin & the beauty of isolation (“The cold and I had made a promise to catch each other”) And Sean was also kind enough to provide the sacrificial blood for our first round!

Getting into the slam proper, another Sean (a first-timer at BSP!) kicked us off with a poem detailing a philosophy of the things in life that -really- matter. His second round offering was a playful, though deeply personal and, at times grim, look at the resuscitation of one’s own emotional or psychological self, presented as paramedics trying to save a life at the scene of an accident.

Sean’s stand-out line of the night? : “CPR – Corporal Punishment Respiration, where they inflate your lungs with all the toxic fumes left over from all the toxic things you’ve done just to see if you could even sustain yourself in your presence”

Next up was Korey with a K, who set his apartment on fire and was insistent that we understand it to not be a metaphor in any regard. While it was not clear if this was intentional, the poem gave an interesting image of the poet, established in their own persona, and the difficulty in having their words taken at face value, when a world is expecting something profound. His second piece was a fun, wacky list of the rules of the cartoon universe, which, I must admit, were quite accurate.

Korey’s stand-out line of the night? : “While you were burning your tongue on first-world-narcissism, I set my apartment on fire.”

Next up was Dan Murray, who led with his piece about Einstein’s solitary regret – the encouraging of America to acquire the Atomic Bomb. His second piece was a personal account of watching a friend’s life slowly disintegrate and feeling powerless to help.

Dan’s stand-out line of the night? : “I wonder if Mozart would be sickened to know how he inspired me…”

Rounding out the slam was Tomy Bewick, who described a life living with a partner whose PTSD would instigate severe outbursts as sleeping next to a Chainsaw. His second offering was his coyly prodding piece about blaming (read: thanking) his mother for the life he has.

Tomy’s stand-out line of the night? : “It doesn’t matter which sui-side of the bed you wake up on”

Our feature was the magnificent Ebony Stewart, who exploded into her set explaining that she always had a hard time writing about herself. – “Every time Johnny Hart would pull my bra strap, I would wish my breasts came with a receipt.”

She discussed teaching sex-ed to 6th graders, and listed a series of hilarious questions that only the mind of an 11-12 year old could devise, followed with some very frank, real, and honest responses. – “There is no Skull & Crossbones over your heart, and that is a good thing.”

Next up? She had a conversation with the room about pickup lines and took some suggestions (some great, some not so…). She went on to explain she was not good at flirting (which, let’s be honest…who is?) – “You smell good – what is that? Forever?”

We were then treated to a BRAND NEW POEM read off her phone written to Monday as an almost-apology for how much hate it receives as a day, in comparison to the other days. – “Every day is Monday when you wake up alive. Every day is Sunday when you learn to operate in forgiveness.”

She closed us off with a poem dedicated to all the women in the room, and made a point of identifying that there were none participating in the slam, which is pretty common in a lot of slams, and should be identified more often. This is a very male-dominated scene. – “Anyone who believes that women are delicate and breakable can’t remember the ways in which they were born.”

Overall, Ebony brought an explosive energy with a constant air of welcome to the room around her. The kind of person who says “Yeah, I’m setting this place on fire, but sit down with me when it’s lit and let’s sing together.” It was a real treat to have her on our stage.

The slam ended with a tie between Sean & Tomy for 3rd place, Korey taking 2nd, and Dan Murray taking 1st.

Next month is The Burlington Slam Project’s 8th Birthday! You’d better come celebrate with us!

 

May-be There’s a Poetry Slam!

Sometimes things are short and sweet. Like bite-sized candy bars or Elijah Wood, or even May’s poetry slam! A decently sized audience gathered in the back of the bull and got to see a slam that, while small in competitors, was anything but in content.

Host, fearless leader, and human tomato Tomy Bewick opened up our night with a fun burst of tongue-twisting wordworking of mice and men, and our friend AJ dropped some curt truth about lava lamps. #WhereElseButSlam

And we kicked right into a 3-person slam, including Dan Murray, Sebastian, and Lip Balm.

Tomy sacrificed himself to the poetry gods with his Wolverine poem, and the game was on!

Lip Balm came at us with a poem talking about moments of love and connection through a person stopped at a red light asking the person behind him to get out of her car, and get into his – to “turn my car into our car” and “share the driving responsibilities. He began his second piece with a parody version of Billy Joel singing “spit me a poem, you’re the poet man” – which detailed life as a poet in the face of slam and the different expectations slam crowds and other people have of poets. As usual, Lip Balm’s work was full of blunt, no-nonsense satire.

Lip Balm’s stand-out line of the night: My favourite was “…turned my windshield into an insect cemetery” – but props HAVE to be given to him delivering “If I mention Justin Trudeau” *picture Lip Balm miming a sharp elbow here* “Will my approval rating go up?”

Next up was Sebastian, who kicked us off with a poem that saw someone approaching on the horizon, and flickered between images of it being a person and it being a dragon. His trademark beautiful imagery and powerful delivery made this poem particularly hypnotizing. His second piece; “Dear Atlas; is a piece that compares Atlas to the ant, their similar struggles & weights, and forms a beautiful relationship between the two.

Sebastian’s stand-out line of the night: “Are you always looking down because you wish you could go where your fallen brothers have gone?”

Lastly was Dan Murray who brought a piece discussing comedy, depression, and Robin Williams’ suicide. His second piece was an acknowledgment, as a musician, of how much of the music he loves and plays was at some point stolen from black musicians, and though continuing to play, does so in respect and reverence.

Dan Murray’s stand-out line of the night: “I -am- the white boy who plays that funky music”

And that’s not all! There was a feature! A great feature! The incomparable Alessandra Naccarato, who began her time on stage discussing the multiple different uses of landline phones (better than an episode of Popular Mechanics, I thought)

She said she liked to start by honouring her ancestors, and launched into a poem about her Grandmother leaving her husband
“No shiver in your voice when you said ‘one way…”

Followed by a response to an article called “10 things men find unattractive about women” that was a list of 10 things men find unattractive about a variety of fantasy creatures (unicorns, pegasus…pegasi?, chimera, etc…) (NOTE: Yeah…I don’t have the proper title. I was laughing and not writing.)
“I will feed you freedom like a carrot if it lets me stroke you awhile”
“You may be able to fly through the universe, but I’m pretty sure you can’t do math”

After this, ukelele hero and consummate beard-grower Brad Morden joined her onstage and gave some fantastic uke-backing to her pieces.

Next up was a poem inspired by Artemis that talked about remembering the strength of self in the honest, crushing weight of love & lovers.
“We still crave it (love) like a beast, even when we know what’s coming”

And her final poem was a love poem. One written to all those living the art life. A fitting ode to a room of artists.
“Thank God desire is unreasonable”
“Thank God poets write with the pistol of poverty to their heads”

At the end of the day, Dan Murray took the win, but a 3 person slam means nobody goes home without some money! Score!

Looking forward to June’s slam featuring Ebony Stewart, and I hope to see you all out!

Until then
Peace

 

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.

 

St. Finals Day!

And just like that, another season of slam is finished! First off, I’d like to say thank you to everybody involved. Open Mic’ers, Slammers, Judges, Features, Audience, Volunteers, The Black Bull, thanks to all of you for keeping this fire burning.

Any night that starts with an open mic this size is bound to be a good time. I kicked it off with a cover of Fernando Raguero’s “Fucked Up Something Special” – a piece that is tremendously important to me, and felt fitting as a way to open our finals. From there we had Mo’Fleeka from We Flip Tables drop a piece about the capitalistic and societal methods through which women are constantly bombarded with media that destroys their own body image. “Your ideals make me wanna vomit, but that’s just what the bastards want.” Diana Vasu followed with a piece about the decay of our first world life – “I don’t trust words, I trust behaviours”. Keeley hit the open mic again with another bittersweet entry – “flirtatiously dancing upon a line that lies between full truth & half lies”. Sarah Burgess came in from St. Catharines and shared a poem called “Beauty knows no pain” about the beauty of staying strong and moving forward – “I’m a survivor. I’ll survive this too.” We met a new friend named Kelsey Knight who did a poem titled “Magnetic” about the intuitive draw of connection between two parts of a whole – “You are soul mate familiar. Once again, hello.” And Jeff Cottrill closed out the open mic with a brief cover of Mike Bryant’s salty “Clue” poem, as well as a skit entitled the Jim Show – centered all around the excuses of people who don’t want to see your show, but won’t come out and admit it, which ends with a funny spin pointing out how the whole truth is often something the artist is not the best at accepting.

Also, surprise! Halfway through the night, dear old friend and BSP alum Yogi popped in a shared a new unfinished piece before round 2 dealing about the details in being a father and talking to your kids. Amazing to see him on stage again.

On to the slam! We sacrificed only the finest blood for our finals, which is why we got Bassam and Truth Is… – two faces seen on a few BSP teams.

Bassam gave us a piece about social silence & apathy – “We are slaves. But what if we could be gladiators?”

And Truth ran an incredibly powerful piece about blackness…comparing the way the world sees it to the way the world sees a cancer. – “Most of us will die from this cancer, or it’s treatment”.

And then off we went on a tight evening of competition!

Lip Balm drew bullet and came out slingin’ a southern drawl and delivering a classic piece about work in rabbit breeding, as well as calling for people to be a little more aware of what processes go into the foods they eat (2 nails, a stump, and an axe…” His second round poem is a nod to Suzy Q’s “I fuck like…” piece, entitled “I hug like…”, and it’s all about hugs.

Lip Balm’s stand out line of the night? “I hug like it hurts. I hug like forever. I hug like never again.”

Tomy Bewick stepped up next and brought us some classic work with Microphone Fiend (about trading in his addictions for an addiction to words), and Imagisolve, arguably his most famous piece, posed as an infomercial for a fictitious drug intended to remove all the pesky side effects that come along with experiencing reality.

Tomy’s stand out line of the night? “I’m a damn slam addict. A microphone fiend, and I came here to score.”

Korey with a K brought back his “Catching up” piece – talking about catching up with old high school friends and the weird nostalgic view for high school, but combatting that with grim memories of his own journey and struggles involving his mental health battles. His second piece was fan-favourite – The Runs. It’s about a bathroom emergency during a public jog. Can’t make this up folks.

Korey’s stand out line of the night? “Dreaming of the day they would replace my cage with a casket and ask my mother where she wanted to bury the box.

Sean hit the stage with his “2 to 5 responses to how my hair took me from a 2 to a solid 5” which is a playful piece about the oddities of compliments, and at times, their importance. He also brought his poem about being unsure of what safety feels like while speeding down a forest road at night.

Sean’s stand out line of the night? “As an avid player of Dungeons & Dragons, I know that if someone gives you a +3 in anything, it must be magic.”

Our WoWps representative Ifrah Hussein, just back from the festival brought us a chilling, grim, and raw examination of female genital mutilation in Africa, as well as a piece titled “a list of terrorists who look nothing like me”. Ifrah then goes on to list a number of white people who have committed acts of terror, but, because of their whiteness, are often viewed as mentally unstable, rather than terrorists.

Ifrah’s stand out line of the night? Funny enough, it’s not even from a poem. “I’d like to dedicate this victory to the gentleman who gave me a 7.9″ (Also, spoiler alert, Ifrah won)

But if you want a line from her poems…”Please give me children who love me more than they fear my love.”

And finally Sebastian dropped a new piece about referring to himself as a force of nature, as well as his poem about his adventures in earning the name “poet”

Sebastian’s stand out line of the night? “Thank you for letting me be more than my mistakes.”

And finally, our feature! Winona Linn, who I hadn’t seen since CFSW 2011 in Toronto gave us an incredible performance with a beautiful variety of poetry.

She started with a piece that centered around “Show me your quiet” – cause us poets sure do like to yell.

Another piece about a dream involving meeting a crush at a Starbucks, which was almost neatly absurd in its length and detail – “And I say ‘Hi Dylan Thomas laptop quotes’ and you say ‘Hi. go away, I’m working.”

Her next piece was a sobering discussion of the treatment of indigenous people in France, referring often to the “feral child” case of Marie-Angelique Memmie Le Blanc. Telling us “Her parents died of unnatural causes” and referring to it as “colonist cancer” (which, by the way, brilliant.)

Her next piece was about the difficulty of loving a sort-of disappointing lover. Not that this lover disappointing…just sort-of disappointing. And some of that disappointment comes in that loving him isn’t actually all that difficult, but that’s what makes it difficult?

*place on facebook under “it’s complicated” *

“Loving you is the exact opposite of blinding a guy. Loving you is like growing new eyes. It feels really weird.” – I can’t even begin to describe the journey the room took in those three lines. From absurdly funny to poignant and beautiful, and then to blunt and silly in a couple small steps.

She also brought a piece which was a celebration of her real name and the difficulty in living with a more disconnected named “for others”.

And there’s one line of all in this night that I must say is one of the best I’ve ever heard.

“We are all made of shit and our shit is made of stars!” – Winona Linn.

And with that, the dust settled, and we saw our victor crowned – Ifrah Hussein won the title of Grand Slam Champion for 2016! Sadly, however, time constraints restrict her from being able to commit to the team, so your 2016 Burlington Slam Project National Team is:

Tomy Bewick, Korey with a K, Lip Balm, and Sebastian!

We’re gonna have a whole lot of fun in the coming months while we’re in off season! Our 1-2-3 slam for IWPS is coming, as well as our birthday and Anything Goes! Keep posted for details and we’ll see you real soon!