Of Poetry Slams and Proud Papas

If you've never experienced a poetry slam, trust me, you don't what it is. It is not about poets quietly reading their little odes to goldfinches. Slam is performance art. Slam is spoken word theatre. Slam is timed 3-minute competitions of language and emotion and intensity and honesty. The pieces can provoke laughter or tears, anger or elation, but I guarantee you'll feel something.

My son, Mike Smith, who writes for NOW Magazine in Toronto, is making quite a name for himself in the Toronto poetry slam world. Recently, Hugh's Room (near Bloor and Dundas W) hosted the finals for the four-person Toronto Poetry Slam team. This team will represent Toronto in the national finals in Calgary later this year, as well as in other international competitions. It was an evening of stunning creativity, in both the text the poets had written and in their performances.

Eight poets had made it to the season finals, and each gave two performances, marked by five separate judges. At the end of the evening, Mike (who performs as White Noise Machine) had made the team (and for the second year in a row). The other team members are Arianna, Krystle, Truth Is, with Jogi as the alternate. The Toronto Poetry Slam site also has info on upcoming slams. Check one out sometime. Check out as well "Mic Check: An Anthology of Spoken Word in Canada" from Quattro Books, edited by David Silverberg (who was also emcee for the evening), if you want to get an idea of what this stuff is about. And, uh, "Mic Check" has two pieces by White Noise Machine, so you really can't go wrong.