Peterborough Poetry Slam Team Advances to Semi-finals in Canadian Competition

‘It's an amazing privilege to be able to share your art with a national audience’

Written word artists from Peterborough shared poetry and a little bit of themselves with a national audience earlier this month.

A quintet from the Peterborough Poetry Slam Collective progressed to the semi-finals at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word (CFSW) in Guelph. The festival ran from Oct. 13 to 19.

The Peterborough Poetry Slam team members who took part in the competition tell Electric City Magazine the experience was exciting and memorable.

“It’s an amazing privilege to be able to share your art with a national audience and to hear the stories of poets from across the land,” Jon Hedderwick, artistic director for the Peterborough Poetry Slam Collective and member of the travelling slam team, says.

“We believe that words and stories shared honestly have the power to move people and effect systems of change on a wide scale. We use art to elevate the political, providing it with spiritual and emotional contexts that humanize abstract ideals.”

“I walk away from each one of these festivals with a deeper and more profound understanding of the world.”

The festival’s theme was ‘Discovery’ speaks to ‘The Story Within Us.’

CFSW is most known for the highly-stylistic spoken word poetry that is common in poetry slam competitions. The festival highlighted spoken word in its various expressions including, but not limited to, storytelling, comedy, theatre, lectures and lyric. There were workshops, presentations and conversation.

Jon says he’s most proud of the team — fellow poets Sarah Lewis, Kristal Jones, Ray Godin and Ash, who preferred not to have a last name published.

“I have had the pleasure of working with many talented and committed artists in my career and this year was no exception. These poets did the work and represented the best in our community. They were passionate, curious and open; just a pleasure to work with.”

The Peterborough team presented a variety of original poetry and tackled such topics as the ongoing genocide of Indigenous peoples in Canada — highlighting the resiliency and strength of the people, to anti-semitism and white supremacy in Canada, to fat positivity. Their individual and team presentations earned points which accumulated for an overall team score that secured their position in the semi-finals.

For Kristal, the CFSW experience was surreal.

“The calibre of talent was astonishing,” Kristal explains.

“It’s really special, all of this community and art and accountability and on top of all of it — just really amazing poetry. All day. All night. Seven days straight. It’s the best, most beautiful kind of exhaustion.”

The Peterborough Poetry Slam Collective was founded in 2007.

Its mandate is to attack forms of oppression and nurture anti-oppressive ideas and decolonization through its organizing and its poetry, while pushing the boundaries of the art form.

“We believe that words and stories shared honestly have the power to move people and effect systems of change on a wide scale. We use art to elevate the political, providing it with spiritual and emotional contexts that humanize abstract ideals.”

Stay tuned to Electric City Magazine to learn more about Jon, Kristal, Ray and Sarah and their collective passion for poetry and performance.

 

Lead photo caption: Members of the Peterborough Poetry Slam team are enjoying the fruits of a successful venture to a national poetry slam festival. The five team members include Ray Godin, Jon Hedderwick, Sarah Lewis, Kristal Jones and Ash who is not pictured.

 

Related Stories:

‘The Right Words Said in the Right Place at the Right Time Can Change the World’

Peterborough Poetry Slam, Partners Extend Call for Aspiring Poets

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