Category Archives: Slam Poetry

Winnipeg’s Slam Poetry Team 2015

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Left to right: Julia Florek (alternate), Amber O’Reilly, Larysa Musick, Tharuna Abbu, Mike Johnston

Reid Dickie

Competition was stiff and the scores were incredibly close at the Park Theatre tonight as Winnipeg’s 2015 Slam Poetry team was distilled from the eight finalists. Slam poetry is a growing subculture of modern expression that Winnipeggers are embracing. A large crowd nearly filled the theatre which surprised the organizers and elicited much gratitude.

SLAM 017 - CopyThe three poets who didn’t make the team – Kortnee Stevens, Rob Malo and Shelly Genthon  – gave admirable performances. The winner of the shiny satirical belt for the highest score was Mike Johnston.

Calgary slam poet Andre Prefontaine brought his bitter life truths to the stage with refined humour and compelling presence as the half-time show. Charming, erudite and highly tolerant Bruce Symaka (left) MC’ed the evening and rolled with the frequent audience jibes.

The four finalists will represent Winnipeg at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in Saskatoon October 18 to 25, 2015.

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Filed under Festivals, Humour, Slam Poetry, Winnipeg

Winnipeg Poetry Slam 2015 Final Eight

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Reid Dickie

The final eight poets who will slam for the four spots to represent Winnipeg at the Nationals have been decided. The Handsome Daughter hosted the second semi-final round last night where seven poets slammed, four went through to the finals.

The eight finalists are Tharuna Abbu, Julia Florek, Shelly Genthon, Mike Johnston, Rob Malo, Larysa Musick, Amber O’Reilly and Kortnee Stevens.

SUPPLIED Photo  Schoolteacher Mike Johnston is ManitobaÕs provincial slam-poetry champion.

The top poet last night was Mike Johnston (left), Manitoba’s 2014 slam poetry champion. His word and presentation are unique, collegial and compassionate. Click Mike’s pic to see him perform Question Box from last year’s finals.

The second place finisher was young Tharuna Abbu who slammed two personal moments from her life with elegance, enthusiasm and marvelous control. Her first poem made me cry. Unfortunately I don’t have video of Tharuna.

You’ll just have to go to The Park Theatre on Wednesday June 3 to hear her and seven other fine performers slam their best works. The event starts at 7:00, doors open 6:30, admission is $10. Bring a friend.

Read my post on last week’s first round of semi-finals.

UPDATE: Read my post on the finals on the results of the finals

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Winnipeg Poetry Slam 2015

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Reid Dickie

Last Wednesday night I attended the first round of semi finals in the 2015 Winnipeg Poetry Slam at The Handsome Daughter on Sherbrook Street. Seven poets competed for four spots in the final with the last semi final round coming up on Wednesday May 20 at the same fine venue.

I was one of the randomly chosen judges and dutifully received the derision of the crowd when I scored a poet too low. In my role as judge I used Andrea Gibson as top of the class, Carlos Andres Gomez a notch down. Very high standards, indeed.

The event is held under specific rules with each poet performing twice in random order. My two favourite poets of the evening were Julia Florek and Rob Malo (above), neither of whom needed cheat sheets for their powerful, emotional performances. Their poems, in word and performance, stood above the competition in my humble aesthetic. Rob’s poem It’s Quiet on Langside at Midnight is particularly memorable.

slam2Mike Johnston (left), a Winnipeg middle school teacher who is currently the Winnipeg Poetry Slam Champion, brought excellent levity to the proceedings as the evening’s host.

Mike along with seven other poets will be performing on May 20 for a spot in the finals. Admission is just $8. The Handsome Daughter, 61 Sherbrook has a bar and a restaurant for munchies. The final eight will compete to be among the four poets to represent Winnipeg at the Park Theatre, June 3, 2015. Admission $10.

I plan to attend the next semi final and will have a follow-up report.

Read my post on the results of the finals.

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Filed under Humour, Language, Slam Poetry

Slammin’ with Kayla Fraser and Steve Currie

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Reid Dickie

To end the week of slam poets I’ll feature two Winnipeg poets, Kayla Fraser and Steve Currie, info on local slam events in 2015 and finish with Andrea Gibson who was the inspiration for this series.

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Click her pic for Kayla Fraser to perform The Poetry Game.

Winnipeg Poetry Slam has a new home at the Winnipeg Poetry Project which will hold the second of four events to determine the local slam poets that go to the nationals. The event is Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at the West End Cultural Centre. Sign-in 7:15. Slam 8:00. Details are available. You can see a tally of the top slam poets and their point totals on the site, videos and audio tracks of poets performing and an application form if you want to prowl the stage and share your wisdom.

Another event under the auspices of the Winnipeg Poetry Project is the annual Winnipeg Spoken Word Festival, June 10 to 13, 2015 at the Gas Station Theatre. Details as they emerge.

A collaborative project called F-Wordz combining performing poets and filmmakers is evolving to its May 3, 2015 competition at the Park Theatre. The Winnipeg Film Group offers info.

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Steve Currie is vying for a spot on Winnipeg’s Slam Team this year and reads a work pulled from today’s headlines about Manitoba’s 10,000 foster children. Click his pic to watch Steve perform To Whom It May Concern.

I recently discovered the performance poetry of Andrea Gibson and posted about her. Her work inspired my explorations of current slam poetry resulting in this series. To end off, two poems by Andrea Gibson. Click pic to watch her perform Prism

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Click pic for her performance of Panic Button Collector

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 What’s this series about?

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Slammin’ with George Watsky and James Judd

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Reid Dickie

Two more slam poets today.

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Click his pic to watch George Watsky perform Drunk Text Message to God

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One of the funniest slam poets is James Judd performing his story poem The Book Report

What’s this series about?

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Slammin’ with Jeanann Verlee and Carlos Andres Gomez

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Reid Dickie

A trio of slam poems today. Jeanann Verlee, whom I featured earlier in this series, and Carlos Andres Gomez, each performing separately and together.

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Click her pic to watch Jeanann Verlee perform 40 Love Letters.

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Click their pic to watch Jeanann Verlee and Carlos Andres Gomez perform Wait.

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Click his pic to see Carlos Andres Gomez perform What’s Genocide?

What’s this series about?

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Slammin’ with Shane Koyczan and Rudy Francisco

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Reid Dickie

Today’s poets are Shane Koyczan from Penticton, B.C. and Rudy Francisco.

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Click his pic to watch Shane Koyczan perform his story poem Why Does This Man’s Grandfather Fight Monsters? Shane is performing in Winnipeg at the West End Cultural Centre on April 5, 2015.

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Click his pic to watch Rudy Francisco perform his poem Complainers.

What’s this series about?

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Slammin’ with Megan Maughan and Noah St. John

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Reid Dickie

Two youthful voices on today’s slam.

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Click her pic to watch Megan Maughan perform Five Reasons to Date a Girl with an Eating Disorder.

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Click his pic to watch Noah St. John perform his poem Capoeira.

What’s this series about?

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Slammin’ with Neil Hilborn and Michael Lee

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Reid Dickie

Two more contemporary slam poets in my series on words at work.

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Click his pic to watch Neil Hilborn perform OCD.

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Click his pic to watch Michael Lee perform Pass On.

What’s this series about?

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Slammin’ with Jeanann Verlee and Josh Healey

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Reid Dickie

We live in a time when words have been reduced to a series of abbreviations on tiny text screens, when clarity and truth are drained daily from language replaced by doublespeak that supports an agenda, when the inability to form a complete sentence results in the inability to think critically, when powerful voices that promote sanity and goodness are routinely silenced. But words still work. They can still tell the truth when employed by active minds and engaged  imaginations. In this case, I mean slam poetry. Click the pic below for a poet slam primer under 60 seconds.

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This is the first of six or seven posts featuring contemporary slam poets performing their work. Each one of these voices offers his or her unique perspective on life in the 21st century, usually personal, sometimes cringingly so, frequently funny, always pertinent and inspirational. Instead of writing about each poet’s background I have included links to their websites. Most of these slam poets have won awards for their performance poetry.

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Click her pic to watch Jeanann Verlee perform Communion.

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Click his pic to watch Josh Healey perform Coming Out Straight.

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Filed under Ancient Wisdom, Slam Poetry