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Canadian Festival of Spoken Word

The 7th annual Canadian Festival of Spoken Word runs Oct 12-16th in Ottawa. 18 teams from across Canada have done run-offs over the last few months to be chosen to compete. Raise It interviews Nathanael Larochette, director of this year’s festival:

When it comes down to it the spoken word slams and shows that we put together are very much a community gathering of voices. It is a space where everyone is respectful and has their time to speak on what they see in the world and what they feel. It isn’t very far off from a town gathering where everyone gets up and says what they need to say. […]

[E]veryone should come out and check out the festival. They should check the website, the program, and get advanced tickets. Right now spoken word in Canada is bubbling over, so this is going to be the really intense and special culmination of voices.

The welcoming sort of social atmosphere of slam brings people in of all ages and stages. As Nathanael points out people “feel comfortable enough to get on stage for the first time. They feel comfortable enough to sit and listen.” As Rusty said lately it’s a supportive, congenial atmosphere. It’s common to give score in the 10th of points, with scores up between 8 and 10. This strikes me in sharp contrast with page poetry where it’s every person for themselves and to write-off performances with scathing criticism or a shrug is the usual.

Nathanael was also asked about his relationship between the poetry he does and the music he does (he plays classical guitar). He said, “if I give you words it’s kind of like painting the picture for you, whereas with instrumental music it’s kind of like I’m giving you the paintbrush.”

There’s room for both. For balance we need to both admire painting and paint or else we are uninformed armchair coaches.

Related posts:

  1. Comments versus Conversation, Written vs. Spoken “Poets often write prose simply for the love of writing”, says Robert Peake when talking about the prose versus poetry versus other communication in writing things, such as blogs and...
  2. Canadian Festival of the Spoken Word: Victoria November 10-14 [via David Silverberg] The Canadian Festival of Spoken Word is returning on Nov. 10 to 14, touching down in lovely Victoria, B.C. We encourage you to come on out and...
  3. Spoken Word Revolution, Redux (cross-posted at I’ve got a review copy of The Spoken Word Revolution Redux. It is book 2 in a series on the history of Spoken Word. It is by...

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