CALGARY SPOKEN WORD FESTIVAL 2014

Ikenna (OpenSecret) Onyegbula

Ikenna (Open Secret) Onyegbula

A GATHERING OF LANGUAGES, VOICES, STORIES AND SONG

It’s amazing how technology has changed humanity: touching someone, the sensation and emotions, only seems to now exist on phones, tablets and friends through social media. One may think on either sides of the spectrum, or somewhere in the middle where the art within literature lies. “When email came along, it made people communicate differently,” says Sheri-D Wilson, artistic director at the Calgary Spoken Word Festival. “It made them think in shorter lines, but also more impact per line, which is what poetry does.” Arguably, this accelerated the evolution of the way in which we use language.

Mike-McGeeGoing into the 11th annual Spoken Word Festival, Wilson has whipped up some scrumptious events to soothe Calgary’s many poetic souls. Holding a shy 10 events across the city (compared to the previous 30 plus), the festival will be kicked off on April 1 with April Foolry & Wicked Poetry, starring Mike McGee, whom Wilson describes as “the only person who has actually made me fall off my chair laughing; he is hilarious.” And with Montréal Night in Canada harbouring some of the most talented poets in Canada, sporting “English, French, and Frenglish,” comedy and culture will not be in short supply. Edgy Women Ignite the Night is another event you won’t want to miss. Including “men in drag,” women with loud opinions, and a lowering number of available tickets, entertainment will be fierce for the first week of April. Smart Men Hot Words guards Thursday night with an intriguingly seductive name, calling out all the ladies looking for a man with intellect.

Slam poetry has only been around for roughly 30 years, but has already changed the face of poetry. Though the festival proper begins on April Fools Day, the ninth annual Slam poetry finals will be held on March 31, allowing us dip our toes in the world of poetics a little sooner. Including international Slam poetry champion, Open Secret, “it will be packed,” Wilson says. As the intense versatility of Slam poetry is becoming increasingly more popular, there is a new collective Slam poetry event hosted monthly. “The whole idea of SLAM is to create a forum for voice and then an open discussion that might follow,” including a $150 award for the winner of the Youth Slam contest. “Poetry: it pays,” says Wilson. Following this excitement, Open Mic will start on Saturday, April 5, at 3 p.m. with idea being “for everyone to have a voice: poetry for the people, by the people.”

Many events at this year’s festival are just $15 each. As Wilson explains, “We’re more about bringing people together than gathering money.” Tickets can be purchased online or at the door, but if you are tied up and dreading missing an event, fear not: all events will be streamed live to the web. If you’re still missing being submerged in the live aspect of it all, why not make a road trip of it? Follow the poets on their journey to Vancouver and, next year, you can also catch them in San Francisco.

The Calgary Spoken Word Festival takes place in various venues April 1-6.

By Paige Paquette

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