Boonaa Mohamed

Reppin' Toronto at CFSW07: Boonaa

Don't let his youth fool you: Boona Mohamed is wise beyond his years. He also happens to be extremely funny, and an absolute treat to see on stage. We've written a lot about Boonaa here on blogTO before, but all the kudos are definitely worth it. This Ryerson student is a star on the spoken word scene and is making waves across the city in other arenas of the arts and politics as wel.

Boonaa Mohamed is one of the ten poets representing Toronto at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in Halifax this year. Toronto will be sending two teams — one from Dave Silverberg's Toronto Poetry Slam scene and one from Dwayne Morgan's Up From the Roots scene — to compete against teams from across the country all vying for spoken word supremacy.

If last year's CFSW in Toronto was any indication, this year's competition is going to be incredibly intense and will feature some of the best spoken word anyone in this country has ever seen.

I had the opportunity to have an email exchange with some of the poets — Boonaa being one of them — representing Toronto at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in Halifax this year and ask them a few questions about what they expect from the upcoming experience. Of course, since they're poets, I'm including their answers verbatim: why mess with a poet's own mastery of the language?

Here's what Boonaa had to say:

When did you start to get involved in the spoken word scene? What got you interested in the first place?

I needed a medium to vent my frustration with the world. I am heavily involved in social justice work especially within the Black Community and after a while that shit will drive you crazy. I started writing my poetry as a means of dealing with that stress and about a year ago, I entered the Toronto International Poetry Slam and I've been hooked ever since.

How has the spoken word community in Toronto help you develop your poetry and how has it influenced other parts of your life?

The spoken word community to me is kind of bullshit. There is too much politics involved in such a beautiful means of expression. Although some people may know me as a slam poet, I really don't like to slam because I feel as though, art is so subjective and people applying a numerical value to my heart and soul is kinda whack. The sad reality is that if people are not slamming against each other, it's likely nobody will come out and watch them. Not to mention the scene is almost segregated and not as inclusive as it seems. I try not to really get too involved in any specific poetry community but instead share my poetry with anybody who dares to listen.

How does it feel to represent Toronto in Halifax this year? What are your goals for this year's CFSW?

This is my second year representing Toronto and it's still an honor. I have this real love hate relationship with slams but I am a very competitive person by nature so even though I don't really like slams, as soon as I'm put in a competitive atmosphere, my animal instincts take over. Last year we lost by .2 so this year I expect nothing but gold.

And now for some fun...extended metaphor time: if you were to compare your poetry to a Broadway musical, what musical would you choose, and why?

I don't think I've ever actually seen a Broadway musical, but if I had to compare my poetry to the closest thing I've seen, it would have to be "Aladdin On Ice" staring Brett "The Hitman" Heart, because my style seems as effortless as floating on ice, but I can be a Hitman when needed.

Boonaa Mohamed is one of the ten poets representing Toronto at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in Halifax this year. Keep checking blogTO for more updates about the festival and Toronto's progress during the competition.

Support Toronto's poets by attending the Up From The Roots Fundraiser on October 9 at Cervejaria at 8pm (more info on FB).

(Photo courtesy Boonaa Mohamed.)

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