Even prohibition couldn’t prevent the humour from flowing from the mouths of Western’s rising stars at Wednesday’s poetry slam. “I only got this one move out on the dance floor,” mused rap/hip hop contestant Christopher Horak, in his self-reflective piece, “Me on Stage.”
“While you’re dancing up the chicks, I’m probably talking to the DJ, cause picking up on the dance floor for me’s like walking cross the freeway.” The Coterie, Western’s undergraduate English society, hosted its fourth annual slam at The Spoke, as part of the school’s week-long Festival of the Arts.
The competition offered prizes of $100 in the categories of classical poetry, spoken word and rap/hip hop. Challengers could recite as many original pieces as they chose, but only had three minutes on stage. Although alcohol is not permitted outside the designated drinking area in The Spoke, sobriety did not deter the 18 competitors from sharing their words of wisdom and comedy with a full house and a crowd of nearly 100 fellow students.
Third-year philosophy student Andrew Fitzpatrick, who won in the spoken word category, said he partially credits the length of his poems for his win. His final of three poems, entitled F*ck You Cantaloupe, took four seconds to recite: “F*ck you cantaloupe. Honeydew’s better.” After his big win, he said the inspiration for his poem came from a lifetime of encounters with the fruit that provided the substance of his piece. “A lot of my life has revolved around melons,” he explained. “When I was thirteen, I went on a canoe trip, and we couldn’t get a cantaloupe, because my camp didn’t have any cantaloupes. But they had a watermelon. So we tied it behind the canoe. We ate it on the first night. After we made a jack-o-lantern out of it.”
In the outlying areas surrounding the audience, though, The Spoke hummed with activity. People not there for the poetry slam were coming and going, buying food, talking and studying while the contest was going on. However, even the background noise did not discourage the winner of the classical category, Nick Milne, who has competed and won three times.
He prefaced one of his two poems by explaining that he won last time “with a poem viciously attacking the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche,” and wanted to apologize. “So I didn’t mean to hurt you, oh Nietzsche, / to slight you or pervert you, good Nietzsche. / I forgot your tortured sadness as I rubbed your nose in shame / I cracked jokes about your madness and I mispronounced your name. / Sir, if you were here, by god, I would like to meetcha. / I am really rather sorry, oh Nietzsche.” Milne said that although he sometimes gets pre-performance jitters, he enjoys being on stage. “I like to browbeat people with my voice, and I want to be a lecturer. So it’s really just like talking to a bunch of friends, except they don’t get to interrupt me.” Shortly after Milne’s performance, an audience member sitting up front left his seat, and returned moments later with a basket full of nachos, which he and a friend proceeded to munch away on throughout the remaining performances.
For the rap/hip hop category, the prize went to Justine Lepine, for his “Ode to 2 Dundas.” “I stare out windows where people search for car keys, someone checks the time, a homeless dude gets hassled by police, a fat kid stuffs his face with a sausage McMuffin, and that crack head looks like he might take a hostage or something.”
Keeping with the unofficial theme of subtle comedy, classical competitor Marcel Gort recited his short poem “Run Free,” which was about leashed dogs. “There once was a man / who just couldn’t stand / the sight of a dog on a leash. / Try as he might / he just couldn’t fight / the urge to set the dog free. / Sooner or later / more sooner than later, / the owners began to complain. / So the leash breaking man / got sent to the can / and he didn’t see leashes again.”
Before announcing the winners at the end of the night, the Coterie’s president, Bonita Mok, made a speech commending all of the competitors for their bravery. “Poetry is a really personal thing. It takes a lot of courage to come up on stage and perform. So I really admire the talent and courage that you guys had. “She may have been referring to one of Fitzpatrick’s poems, and his personal insights into breakfast: “Every morning you were there my friend. My dear toast. But what to dress you in? Marmalade? Peanut-butter? Half and half. No, I don’t like cream.”
Blog By Ashley Tonkens