Slam, or spoken-word poetry, is a growing practice among young adults in North America, and is replacing the classic image of a poet with a more modern version. Spoken-word competitions consist of a series of writers, or modern poets, who read their work aloud, turn by turn: changing the face of poetry, as it is no longer directed towards readers, but to an audience. This allows the author of a poem to employ different techniques to give them a greater control over rhythm, speed, tone of voice, etc., and entices many to abandon the traditional application of rhymes in favour of a more prose-like poetry.
Spoken-word performances can be hard to find in the Montreal area. Student Nayem Alam addressed this issue when creating Speak Up Montreal, a public-speaking contest that encourages participants to think outside the box, and to utilize the power of gesture and animation when giving a talk or presentation. He aimed to create an environment in which “people can embrace themselves for who they are and not who they should be” which is done through self-expression in a contest that leaves much leeway for creativity and imagination.
Speak Up Vanier 2017 invites students to perform their original pieces on-stage alone, or in groups (maximum of five members per group). The performances must be between two and five minutes long, and are required to adhere to college policies (no promotion of discrimination, violence, etc.). The judges evaluate each piece based on the enthusiasm portrayed in the performance, as well as on its content and style.
This is the second year of Speak Up Vanier; last year’s event brought about a number of hidden talents within our student body. This spring, all five Anglophone cegeps (Marianopolis, Dawson, John Abbott, Champlain, and Vanier) are involved, which Nayem Alam notes is encourageing, especially as spoken word poetry creates an outlet through which one may express themselves freely, speaking up about a subject of one’s own choosing. All five schools will hold a preliminary competition, and the top three speakers from each college will perform on April 27th, in Vanier’s auditorium, in the final slam.
Students who wish to register for the competition must email their name, student I.D. number, and a two-sentence description of the topic of their piece to firstname.lastname@example.org . The deadline to sign up is Friday March 24th, at midnight.
What are you waiting for? Speak Up Vanier!
Written By: Katherine Willcocks