Writers match wits in slam poetry finals

Slam poet Scott Thompson holds up his notebook while sitting at his apartment desk. He’ll compete in a slam poetry competition at the Victoria Event Centre this weekend.

Slam poet Scott Thompson holds up his notebook while sitting at his apartment desk. He’ll compete in a slam poetry competition at the Victoria Event Centre this weekend.

Unique art form allows individuals to explore different sides of themselves

Scott Thompson’s life has been transformed, just a few short months after he was introduced to performance poetry.

“Poetry is probably the most important thing I’ve ever started doing,” said the Esquimalt man.

After witnessing his first spoken word performance last August, Thompson was hooked.

“I was inspired. After that I just started keeping track of my thoughts and typing ideas into the notepad on my phone.”

In January, Thompson, 25, signed himself up for a performance poetry class and dove right into the art form.

“When I started writing I felt like my brain was starting to wake up. I’d spent years shutting it off with video games,” he said, adding he wrote a poem about that experience.

When Thompson looks for inspiration, he uses his feelings, frustrations and experiences to draw from. “Everyone needs a way to express themselves and performance poetry is a great way to do that.”

Thompson has been actively competing in poetry slams in Victoria, a competition among spoken word poets.

On the night of a slam, poets sign up to compete and a few are selected randomly to hit the stage. Each competitor is given three minutes to perform an original piece of work without the use of props or costumes.

“There are no constraints on what poetry is or what spoken word is,” said Missie Peters, the Victoria Slam master, a.k.a. organizer and host of the events.

At slams, she’s seen people perform stand-up comedy, freestyle and even haiku. “You get three minutes, but it doesn’t mean you have to use it all.”

The judges for each event are also picked at random from the crowd. “They give scores like they do at the Olympics,” Peters said.

To Thompson, performance poetry is an art form and poetry slams offer a venue for that.

In February he competed in his first poetry slam. Although he didn’t make it past the first round, he kept honing his craft. One month later Thompson stepped back up on stage and won the slam with his poems titles, “Milo” and “Blackbird.”

An avid improv performer, he has spent more than half his life on stage and admits that writing is tougher than getting up in front of an audience.

Thompson and 11 other performance poets will face off at the Victoria Slam Finals, June 16. Competitors earned their spots on the roster, an exception to the normally random selection process.

The top five go on to compete in the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in Toronto, Ont., in October. Peters, a two-time Victoria Slam champion, will coach the top five.

“If you’ve never seen (a poetry slam), go experience it. There is no feeling quite like it,” Thompson said.

Doors open at 7:30 p.m. at the Victoria Events Centre, 1415 Broad St. Tickets are $10 at the door. For more information go to www.vicpoetryslam.blogspot.com.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A rockfall closes Finlayson Arm Road and West Shore Parkway on Friday (March 5) afternoon. (Twitter/BC Transportation)
Malahat closed due to rockfall

Section of Trans-Canada Highway was scheduled for intermittent closures today for rock scaling work

The Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
Tsartlip First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA revealed COVID-19 outbreak

Chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA Adam Olsen apologizes

E:Ne Raw Food and Sake Bar is closing its doors until further notice after sexual assault allegations against an employee surfaced on social media. (Google Streetview)
Sexual assault allegations temporarily closing a second Victoria restaurant

Social media posts accuse an E:Ne Raw Food and Sake Bar employee of sexual assault

Valerie St. John and Heather Forbes hold up paintings by Sheryl Fisher that were auctioned off at the Bridges for Women Society’s 10th Annual International Women’s Day luncheon. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria event raising funds to support women facing violence, trauma

Bridges for Women Society will host its 11th annual International Women’s Day event online this year

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Friday, March 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau holds firm on premiers’ health-care funding demands, COVID-19 aid comes first

Premiers argue that the current amount doesn’t keep pace with yearly cost increases of about five per cent

Free Reformed Church is seen as people attend service, in Chilliwack, B.C., on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. Lawyers for the British Columbia government and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms are back in B.C. Supreme Court today, squaring off over the legality of COVID-19 rules that prohibit in-person religious services. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. top doctor has power to restrict access to a place during health hazard: lawyer

Under B.C.’s Public Health Act, Jacqueline Hughes says, Henry can restrict or prevent entry to a place

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
B.C. dentists and bus drivers want newly-approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine

BC Dental Association says dentists and their teams cannot treat patients remotely

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

President of the BC Teacher’s Federation (BCTF) Teri Mooring is calling for teachers to be vaccinated for COVID-19 by summer. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Why it’s ‘urgent’ B.C. teachers get vaccinated from COVID-19 before summer

President Teri Mooring says not enough is being done to prevent virus transmission in schools

FILE - In this Jan. 18, 2014, file photo, endangered orcas from the J pod swim in Puget Sound west of Seattle, as seen from a federal research vessel that has been tracking the whales. A new study from federal researchers provides the most detailed look yet at what the Pacific Northwest's endangered orcas eat. Scientists with the NOAA Fisheries Northwest Fisheries Science Center spent years collecting fecal samples from the whales as well as scales from the fish they devoured. They say their data reaffirm the central importance of Chinook salmon to the whales. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Study reinforces importance of Chinook to Pacific Northwest orcas

Data confirms how central the big salmon are to the orca’s diet year-round

Most Read