Hi Folks: This is the third of three posts on recent cultural events we attended here in Victoria… last (for now) but definitely not least! As we’ve written before, the range of activities available here continually amazes us. Last Saturday for example one could choose from:
- Creatively United for the Planet Festival
- Taking Poetry to the Streets Walk
- Seed Exchange at the Central Library
- Swan Lake/ Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary Annual Native Plant Sale
- Astronomy Day at the Royal BC Museum
- Weekend Market at Bastion Square and the Saturday Market at the Hudson Building
and those are only a few examples.
So, in that spirit…
Jeremy Loveday. Mild-mannered city politician by day, but when your eyes are averted he becomes an environmental and social activist, staunch supporter of creative endeavours, champion spoken word poet, and so much more. He doesn’t even have glasses to hide his secret identity!
2015 marked the sixth year for Victorious Voices, a slam poetry competition of teams from regional high schools and the fourth year we’ve been able to attend. Monday, April 13 was the semi-finals, Tuesday, April 14 was Alumni Night, and Wednesday, April 15 brought us the finals. The winning team goes on to compete in other spoken word events across Canada. Four teams made it to the finals, but before we get to them we should highlight a few other people. Jeremy Loveday, of course, one of the founders of Victorious Voices and someone who has been a champion for the effort from the beginning. Brad Cunningham, teacher at Reynolds Secondary School, and the other half of the team that brought spoken word poetry to high school students in Victoria. Scott Thompson, equally talented poet, was the host for Wednesday evening’s events. Zoe Duhaime, our current Youth Poet Laureate and Yvonne Blomer, our current Poet Laureate were there as judges, as was spoken word poet (and much else) Aaron Sim. Local politician NDP MP Murray Rankin also joined the lineup of judges, and there were two others whose names we didn’t catch: (if you know them, please leave a comment!) Stu and (?) who were in town offering their expertise on spoken word and dance. The two of them performed a joint piece of spoken word poetry and improvisational dance that was quite moving.
This year’s Alumnus of Honour is Morgan Purvis, former Victoria Youth Poet Laureate. The Alumnus of Honour goes to a person who is both continuing in his/her art and giving back to the community through poetry. Morgan performed two pieces (one about melting snowflakes as a metaphor for teen suicide) and spoke about youth poetry as a place of giving respect by listening. She also said, “Most poetry is about how close you want your toes to be to your tongue.” There were several opening poems performed by the various artists, including both of our poet laureates, and then we had the ‘sacrificial poet’ – Myna (?) a student from one of the semi-final teams. The sacrificial poet’s piece becomes the baseline for the judges from which all other performances are based.
The four finalist teams came from Pearson College, Reynolds Secondary, Glenlyon Norfolk School and Brentwood College. Each team had one member participate in each of four rounds, and then there was a team event. As we’ve experienced in previous years, the range of topics was vast and the level of talent was extraordinary. These are very talented young people, each with a knowing of his or her own voice. Topics ranged from politics to sex to aliens (although thankfully not both together), fitting in, standing out, bullying, transgender issues, suicide, love and more. The poets were alternately funny, angry, passionate, open… it’s not an experience that lends itself well to narrative. You’ll just have to come and join in next year! We’re already looking forward to it.