Spoken word poetry championships


“Life is going to kill you, whether you advance or you retreat.” That’s my favourite line from a poem my cousin performed at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word last week. I was there to cheer on his team – The Burlington Slam Project – while they competed for a spot in the semi-finals, but I needn’t of worried: the team quickly earned their own cheering section.


Burlington Slam Project’s James Owen Brown, Dan Murray and Yogi Siewrattan

The fourth and final Burlington team member, Oskar Niburski (who spoke about the parallels between math and virginity..and not in the way you’d think).

Dan struts his wordplay onstage.

The rules are simple: the poet performs for 3 minutes, then five judges hold up score cards to the sound of cheers or jeers from the rowdy, close-knit audience. There are solo poems and team poems. The most points wins.

The competition was fierce (and oh-so-entertaining). The Urban Legends took first place that night with their multi-layered poems about social justice

But the Burlington Slam Project took second place that night and went on to place 5th nationally. The team also boasted the highest-scored piece of the championships for a piece where an ex-smoker literally battles his old habit. Didn’t catch it on video, but it looked like this:

Check out the Burlington team at their monthly slam, held the 3rd Thursday of each month. October’s falls on the 20th at Philthy McNasty’s. $5. Believe me, it’s worth it.

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About Dana Lacey

Freelance writer, editor and photographer
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