My First Spoken Word Poetry SLAM
Finally, the recap of my first time competing at a SLAM, The 7th Annual International Toronto Poetry SLAM no less.
Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts & Culture has opened its doors as a downtown drop-off centre for donations and goods to go towards the victims of Typhoon Ondoy. Please drop off your donations at 167 Augusta on Friday Oct 2, 1pm-8pm or Saturday Oct 3 starting from 1pm and ALL NIGHT LONG,
First and Foremost, much love, respect and gratitude to the dopest mentors I could ever have wished for and to whom I am eternally grateful – Artistic Genius’, Community Leaders and savvy veterans of the Craft; Len Cervantes, Dean Vargas and Romeo Candido. Also big shout and gratitude to the Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts & Culture in Toronto, we doin’ this baby!
Okay, It was a brand new September 6th, 2009.
A few months earlier I had received the open call from Toronto Spoken Word Guru, Master and Overseer Dwayne Morgan about the upcoming Toronto International Poetry Slam, on nothing but impulse alone, I immediately transfered him my registration fee.
I’ve been officially open with my spoken word performing for a little over a year now, but never could I have imagined that one day I’d be slamming with the best in the city.
I had never competed my poetry before, and had attended only 2 open mics in my past, but for some reason I felt wholly compelled to go for it. Here’s the flyer.
7TH Annual Toronto International Poetry SLAM.
A packed venue downtown Toronto at Bathurst and Queen.
21 OF THE DOPEST POETS FROM all over Canada and the States (Ottawa,Toronto, NJ, NY, etc). Including Jamaal St. John (6 time T.I.P.S. Champion form NY), Al St. Louis, Tomy Bewick, Leviathan, Poetic Speed, The Split, David Delisca, Memo etc..
3 ELIMINATION ROUNDS. 7 poets with the lowest cumulative scores are CUT EACH ROUND. So in other words, bring your A-game off the top or you won’t get passed the first round. 5 Judges in the crowd, highest and lowest scores aren’t included. 3 min time limit.
I stood out like an asian in the NBA (I was obviously one of the youngest there and also the only ‘asian’) I was pretty nervous. my insides were all butterflies and I could hardly stand up or walk around. I had 2 poems prepared and thought if I made it to the final round that would only be a bonus. My goal, my personal goal, was to make it as far as possible but specifically to the 2nd round. It was all about making it to the 2nd round and proving that to myself, that’s all that really mattered.
Luckily, one of my mentors, veteran poet Dean Vargas was there with me like a coach in my corner for in-between rounds.
At random all the competitors drew numbers to determine the order, I wanted to go up 7th but pulled # 17. Good enough, I waited patiently until finally my name was called, then…
As all the poets finished up I awaited my fate. Once the scores were tabulated Dwayne proceeded to read off the names of the 7 poets who didn’t make the cut. To my ultimate elation, I found out that I MADE IT!
All of a sudden a huge weight was lifted..from my stomach, it felt incredible accomplishing my personal goal of getting to round 2. In round 2 the remaining dope ass 14 poets drew numbers again, This time, I was to go up 9th. With coach Vargas in my corner I patiently waited until my name was called again…
By this time I really wasn’t sure if my cumulative score was enough to get to the finals, the other poets were really good and competition was at its highest. To be honest I thought I was out, but as Dwayne proceeded to read the names of the next 7 poets to be cut I was surprised and overjoyed not to hear my name!
Wow, I couldn’t believe it, honestly, I was so stupid nervous in the beginning and now I found myself in the final round with the 7 top finalists.
But then, I realized that it all depends on your cumulative (total) scores from all 3 rounds put together. The reigning champ from NY, Jamaal St. John is a poetical master and was tearing it up getting 10’s across the board in rounds 1 and 2, and seeing as how he had won the competition 5 times (out of 7) in the past, it was safe to assume that his final piece would be flawless.
SO, realizing that my score could never catch up, I swallowed my hopes of winning the $1000 grand prize, then decided that if I couldn’t grab the title I’d rep hard for the future of Filipino Spoken Word Artists and Filipinos in general, I started spoken word doing community events and the community really nurtured my artistic growth so I had to give back.
As mentioned earlier, I didn’t have a 3rd piece planned (as I didn’t expect to make it that far), so I started with a piece I did at Kapisanan’s KULTURA Festival 2 summers ago, then freestyled a bit on colonialism, and finished off with the verse from the track “SUPERNATURAL” that I spit with my tribal band Santa Guerrilla. I know my Tagalog accent really sucks but I couldn’t be bothered, I was now aiming at the crowd’s memory banks.
LOOK OUT FOR THE NEXT GENERATION OF YOUNG TALENTED POETS FROM THE CITY THIS OCTOBER 3RD, 2009!. I’m performing with a new team of spoken word artists grown from the PSL (Poetry is our Second Language) Workshops at the Kapisanan Philippine Center (167 AUGUSTA AVE) this Saturday, October 3 for a Poetical and musical Exhibition and FUNDRAISER for RELIEF EFFORTS in light of the UTTERLY DEVASTATING FLOODS IN MANILA, PHILIPPINES.
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