Spoken Word events in Toronto, September 2012
Spoken word events in Toronto have often been relegated to a niche or underground status, but there's a shift going in the city - one that involves the rapid growth in popularity of an art form that has its roots in prehistoric folklore and storytelling, and draws inspiration from modern hip-hop, dramatic monologue and dance choreography. That's right: spoken word is experiencing a resurgence.
Here's what to expect in Toronto spoken word for the month of September:
10TH ANNUAL TORONTO INTERNATIONAL POETRY SLAM / SEPTEMBER 2 / 7PM / THE GREAT HALL / $20
Up From The Roots Entertainment brings back this annual Labour Day weekend rite of passage for slam aficionados in the city. Dwayne Morgan hosts what has become one of the biggest events of its kind in North America, with heavy hitters coming to lay claim to the $1000 prize purse. TIPS is always a battle of epic proportions that is well worth the price of admission.
WORDSPELL SPOKEN WORD / SEPTEMBER 5 / 8PM / FREE TIMES CAFÉ / $6-$10 SLIDING SCALE
This is a brand-new series created to focus on women's voices, that has generated a lot of buzz locally in the last few weeks. The show features Mahlikah Awe:ri (of the Red Slam Collective), Up From the Roots Slam Team member Serafina Dawley and an open mic reserved for female-identifying artists. All are welcome to attend.
WHAT SHE SAID / SEPTEMBER 7 / 7:30PM / BUDDIES IN BAD TIMES THEATRE / $10
An incredibly talented line-up of female poetry powerhouses will come together to share their five voices all on one stage. Liz Stembridge from Rogers TV hosts while MC Jazz, Amanda Hiebert and Krystle Mullin, Lishai and Arianna Pozzuoli (via satellite) bring the poetic heat.
SAUL WILLIAMS / SEPTEMBER 7 / 8PM / THE GREAT HALL / $21.50
The superstar poet, actor, and musician is coming to Toronto to promote his new book Chorus: A Literary Mixtape and to share his work alongside OMG, Dwayne Morgan and Kamau. For anyone who is seeking a profound experience courtesy of one of the great performers of our times, this is not something you want to miss. Partial proceeds from the show will be donated to Manifesto Community Projects.
Toronto Poetry Slam / September 16 / 8pm / The Drake Hotel / $5
Toronto's biggest poetry slam series will feature Komi Olaf, a member of the 2009 national slam championship team from Ottawa now known as The Recipe poetry troupe. TPS has three rounds of slam from some of Canada's best, in a room that will almost certainly sell out before showtime. Get there early to get a seat (or even to get in the door). The strength of Toronto's local slam community is one of the city's best-kept secrets. Get in on it.
BILL BROWN'S 1-2-3 SLAM / SEPTEMBER 19 / 8PM / Q SPACE / $5
The series begins its second season in Toronto at the new Q Space located at 382 College Street operated by Quattro Books (and scheduled to open on September 8). The YorkSlam Team will feature and there will be an open mic for the up-and-comers in the scene. BB123 Slam is the only series of its kind in Canada so if you've never seen a slam like this before, it's worth checking out.
SOULSTICE MUSIC & POETRY / SEPTEMBER 28 / 8PM / WATERFALLS INDIAN TAPAS / $15
This new poetry and music showcase series will bring together talented musicians and notable spoken word artists on a seasonal basis. The inaugural edition is a fundraiser event for the Put Food In The Budget campaign, and features comedian Anto Chan as host and performances by Britta B and The Banter, Ritallin and many others. Soulstice will be a great event for a great cause.
100 THOUSAND POETS FOR CHANGE / SEPTEMBER 29 / ALL DAY / VARIOUS LOCATIONS
The second annual 100TPC is part of a worldwide movement of poets that began in Australia last year and has spread all across the globe. A wide variety of events will be taking place all over the city for audiences both young and old, and will include poets of every variety and description.
Other Shows & Events
Love Jones Sundays hosted by Nyce Touch / September 2 / 7pm / No One Writes to the Colonel / $10
The Art Bar Poetry Series / September 4, 11, 18 and 25 / 8pm / Pauper's Pub / PWYC
Toronto Poetry Slam Team Garden Party / September 8 / 8pm / Nathalie-Roze & Co. / $10
BAM! The Toronto Youth Slam ft. YorkSlam Team / September 12 / 7:30pm / The Central / $5
The Beautiful & The Damned hosted by DM Moore / September 13 / 7pm / Glad Day Bookshop / PWYC
Poetry in the Parking Lot ft. Up From The Roots Slam Team / September 14 / 8pm / A Different Booklist / $5
Freestyle Verse Slam ft. Burlington Slam Project / September 15 / 7pm / Blue Goose Tavern / $10 advance; $15 door
Roots Lounge Open Mic & Poetry Slam / September 19 / 8pm / Harlem Restaurant / $5
Burlington Slam Project ft. The Flying V's / September 20 / 8pm / Philthy McNasty's / $5
Cover Me Slam ft. Up From The Roots Slam Team / September 24 / 7:30pm / Duffy's Tavern / $10
YorkSlam Team Send-Off ft. BB123 Slam Team / September 26 / 7:30pm / Archibald's Pub, Richmond Hill / $10
Toronto Poetry Slam ft. Burlington Slam Project / September 28 / 8pm / The Drake Hotel / $5
Have a spoken word event coming up that you'd like us to plug? Submit your own listing to the blogTO events calendar.
Greg "Ritallin" Frankson is the creative director of Cytopoetics, as well as an arts educator and a spoken word artist himself. Photo of The Recipe by Visual Poetics Photography in the blogTO Flickr pool