First Ever Mississauga Poetry Slam!

A very real feeling of convergence was palpable during the first annual Mississauga Poetry Slam, held on Nov 21st, 2011 at the Mondello Restaurant in Streetsville.

As a resident of Mississauga for most of my life, and a lover of the arts in all shapes, forms and sizes, I've always wanted a local option to fulfill my need to commiserate with like minded, positive, fun loving individuals.

For so long we've all just brushed off any suggestion of a "scene" here at home, usually opting instead to take a drive, or a train ride eastbound to the big smoke to get our fix of coffee house poetics on Queen West or fun art filled evenings at places like The Drake or The Gladstone. That all changed on Nov 21st when about 60-70 people, most in their twenties, some as old as 60 and some as young as 10, filled Mondello, on our own Queen Street.

The night started with an open mic, meant to warm up the crowd and give fledgling poets, like myself, a chance to get up and practice. I started the night off with a mellow narrative piece I call "The In-Between". The crowd couldn't have been more supportive, and sensing that it was my first time, probably because I made sure to mention it, they were quite patient as I stumbled along.

But once the slam got started, it was really on. We are talking, world class talent. For those who don't know, a Poetry Slam is a contest, where poets take turns performing spoken word pieces to a crowd. Some of them are raps, others more melodic, most rhyme one way or another, some don't, but they all have cadence.

Each performance is rated out of ten by specifically selected audience judges, with points being taken away for poems that run over the three-minute time limit. The performances on display could have rivaled the best of the best that you'd see on Russell Simmons' Def Poetry Jam. There was a modest $100 prize for first place, but as the crowd made sure to remind everyone on more than one occasion, it's not the points that matter, it's the poetry.

Sarah Wetmore, one of the featured slammers and a bright talent had this to say, "This is a revolution in Mississauga's arts culture...this is all of us meeting each other, we're shaking hands, looking into each other’s eyes, giving ourselves and each other the mic to actually speak up and making it a regular thing." Another poet, Nicole, is optimistic about the art scene insauga, "I feel that in recent years not really having an opportunity to express as an artist has been frustrating and I really believe that here in Mississauga we have all this creativity festering in the corners and to have a place where we can all congregate and express is essential in developing the artistic community here."

The Mississauga Poetry Slam will be a monthly event from here on out. Make sure to "like" their page on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mississauga-Poetry-Slam/288925794458817

Next Mississauga Poetry Slam is on January 30 - mark your calendars!

Also, check back here for more articles covering future events and other Sauga arts related topics.

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