July 17, 2014
Poetry is something that I’ve enjoyed at times, but not very often. I rarely found myself entranced with a poem or reading all of one poet’s work as I’ve done with regular prose writers or musical artists. Sure there was the occasional poem that I found “neat” or “interesting” but it never really blew my mind.
This is until I experienced my first spoken word performance.
I was at WPL's Inspiring Ideas launch where I had heard that Nereo, a spoken word artist, would be first on stage to get ideas flowing. I didn’t really know what a spoken word artist was, but didn’t think too much about it. When he got up on stage, he got right into it. It took a few moments for me to realize that what he was actually doing was performing a poem. His rhyme and rhythm, his expressive tones, his breaks and speed were something that I would not have been able to appreciate fully if written on a page.
Had I not seen that performance, the thought of attending a spoken word event would never have occurred to me. And last month, Winnipeg hosted its first Spoken Word Festival. The experience itself was worth it. The involvement of the crowd was something I was not accustomed to, and the genius writing and expression of the performers did in fact blow my mind! Many of the performers stood out with wit, truth, and an openness that I feel doesn’t usually translate as well onto paper.
If you're interested in Spoken Word Poetry be sure to check out Word. In the Park. on Friday, August 1 from 1-3 p.m. in the Millennium Library Park (right behind Millennium Library). Special guest T'ai Pu and emerging artists from the Graffiti Gallery will present an afternoon of literary rap, creative b-boy and b-girl dance moves and interactive spoken word.
The art of spoken word is relatively new, although actually stems from the ancient tradition of reciting poems aloud. When I think of poems performed, I think of Homer, Virgil, Sappho, Catullus and their rhapsodes touring the ancient Mediterranean world performing the poems that we still read today. Somehow, over time, and probably because of academia, poetry became known as a written art, something found on a page that you read on your own time, alone, or discussed in a classroom. Marc Smith, the founder of poetry slams, decided to change that and bring poetry back to the people. He discusses this in The Spoken Word Revolution where you can find a variety of spoken word artists and their poems, and, most importantly, listen to them perform their work on the accompanying CD. A new collection of spoken word was published a few years later in Spoken Word Revolution Redux.
Winnipeg also has their own youth poetry slam club called Voices, Ink which meets for a poetry slam every third Thursday of the month at Sam’s Place on Henderson Hwy. It’s open to youth 14-22 years old, and there’s no need to perform anything, but if you want, the only requirement is that you perform two poems and that they are no longer than three minutes each.
If you’re interested in going, you can get ready by registering and attending our poetry workshops with Ariel Gordon at the West Kildonan Library today from 6 – 8 pm and the Louis Riel Library on Thursday, July 24 from 6 – 8 pm. Check the poster to register!
There's also the 2nd Annual International Junior Authors Poetry Contest going on right now. See the info here. It is free to enter and open to young writers ages 9 - 21. You have until December to submit your best poem.