Poetry Slam: Keeping Spoken Word Alive

By Mariya Guzova

Poetry is a literary art form seldom seen as modern, competitive, or alive. But that is exactly what the Toronto Poetry Slam is doing for the poetic community across Canada.

imageElectric Jon at the 2011 Toronto Poetry Slam.

The Toronto Poetry Slam (TPS) is a twice-monthly spoken word competition held at the Drake Hotel in Toronto. Participants compete to join the TPS team that will go on to compete in international and national poetry competitions.

David Silverberg, managing editor at Digital Journal, founded TPS in 2003. “I always loved spoken word and poetry while I was growing up and I just thought it was lacking and hard to come by in the underground community. So I started the slam to get people on the stage, and talking, and performing for everyone’s enjoyment,” explains David.

imageShoolie at the TPS competition.

Each slam has 12 participants, who have three minutes to perform their piece for the judges. At the end, three finalists are chosen to move on to the semi finals. “We’ve had all kinds of people participate. Professional writers who are established and known, and we’ve had your average college kid who likes to write poetry in their free time.”

TPS also holds a Youth Slam competition for poets between the ages of 12 and 19.

In addition, they hold events, discussions, and talks to help promote the health of the spoken word community, and build up the confidence of poets across the nation.

Participants have walked away from TPS and the national competitions with a wealth of experience that has lead them to greater things as writers.

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“The reason why I always come back to poetry is because of the honesty. It’s beautiful, and brilliant, but above all it’s honest. Unfortunately it’s kind of fallen out of the mainstream. Poetry isn’t going to find you – you have to find it. The Toronto Poetry Slam is trying to change that, and bring poetry back to the forefront,” explains David.

For more information on the Toronto Poetry Slam, please visit their website.

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