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Slam poetry

The power of spoken word

Students from SMU ENpower perform at a poetry slam for a cause

3 min read
Sarah MacMillan
caption A participant performs at the ENpower poetry slam Thursday night.
Sarah MacMillan

“A mentor of mine helped me realize that truth is poetry. You don’t have to rhyme. You don’t have to have any sort of rhythm necessarily. It’s spilling the absolute truth. That’s when it just becomes poetry,” said Des Adams, a Halifax spoken word artist.

Des Adams is a spoken word artist with experience performing in poetry slams. He felt it was important to support ENpower at their event Thursday night, where he performed two spoken word poems and helped out with the event.

Students from the Saint Mary’s University ENpower program had the opportunity Thursday to perform at a poetry slam for a cause. ENpower encourages gender equality by providing opportunities for all students.

The slam poetry event featured poems based around gender equality.

“When we do focus, say, on gender equality and we ask the poets to write around that area, they do it from their own different perspectives,” said Kidist Kebede, the event’s organizer.

Poetry presented at a poetry slam is often politically focused, on issues related to gender, race and economics, but can range from sappy love poems to comedic poems.

A slam itself is a competition where poets have the opportunity to perform alone or with a group before an audience. Judges are selected randomly from an audience and give scores on a scale of 0-10.

“That’s empowering to me, to be able to hear things from so many different angles and in a location, an environment where everyone is there to be inspired or to inspire,” said Kebede.

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The slam community in Halifax is continuing to gain popularity. Halifax’s current poet laureate, El Jones, was the two-time captain of the national championship Halifax slam team in both 2007 and 2008. Incoming poet laureate Rebecca Thomas is currently the Halifax Slam Master.

“I think that slam is a venue that’s very welcoming and open and not confining into one medium or one way of doing things,” said Rosalie Fralick, a Dalhousie student and participant at the event.

“I think that it’s caught on because people need a way of saying what they’re thinking, and I think it’s a good place to do that.”

Adams likes the honesty.

“You might tonight see somebody come up and it won’t sound like a poem – it’s a piece of prose, it’s a letter to self or whatever. But the amount of honesty in it, the raw honesty, that’s what makes it performance poetry, because you have that person pouring their soul out on stage,” said Adams.

“There’s something very beautiful and liberating about that.”

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