Victoria’s popular youth poetry slam festival – Victorious Voices – is going digital for the first time to accommodate the need for social distancing during COVID-19.
The festival is in its 11th year, the longest-running youth spoken word festival in Canada, and founder and organizer Jeremy Loveday felt it wouldn’t be fair to cancel the event.
“We’ve had our poets working on their poems for months and wanted to honour that commitment and courage to share their poetry,” he said.
The event will be held over many venues and brought together through a video conference using Zoom.
“It’s a learning curve and we’re improvising, but we’re in touch with arts organizations and others who have been taking similar steps in other cities, and are learning from their experiences,” Loveday said.
This year 12 high school teams signed up, each consisting of between four and six poets. Usually there are also hundreds of spectators.
In addition, two feature performers have agreed to perform live from their homes: Angelica Poversky from Vancouver, and Janice Jo Lee from Toronto.
Usually, the event includes a competitive side where high school champions are named.
“In the spirit of coming together in the face of this crisis we’ve taken out the competitive element,” Loveday said. “That came at the request of the young poets who felt this wasn’t the right time.”
Participants are eager to have an opportunity to perform, regardless of the competition.
“Victorious Voices provides a platform for youth poets to gain community and connection with one another,” said Neko Smart, City of Victoria Youth Poet Laureate and Coach of the Vic High Slam Team. “We are beyond thrilled to explore a new method of performance and look forward to seeing some virtual smiles amidst these precarious times.”
The event will take place April 6 to 8; anyone interested in participating will be able to register over Eventbright and receive the Zoom link. For more information visit vicvoices.com.