Tomy Bewick

Reppin' Toronto at CFSW07: Tomy Bewick

Tomy Bewick is not a poet that will let you sit comfortably and zone out in the audience. When Tomy takes the mic, you're likely to see him speaking from the audience, jumping on chairs, and bringing his spoken word goodness right to your face.

Tomy 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 — Tomy 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 Tomy Bewick had to say:

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

I started with Spoken Word almost 3 years ago (October 2004) after a serious relationship fell apart due to my drug and alcohol addictions. I started writing again (I had put it aside as a sacrifice during the relationship) and attending everyday AA meetings. I shared my first group reading at an AA meeting. I started looking for open mics in Toronto. I found several, but really ended up drawn to Dwayne Morgan's 'Roots Lounge' and Dave Silverberg's 'Suburban Spoken Word' series. I started practicing my poetry by myself to commit it to memory. Once realizing I could do it, if I recorded the poems first and listened to them over and over again, I started practicing 3 new performance pieces each and every month at Roots Lounge. The raw energy and bravery I saw in other poets inspired me to dig deeper and find some purpose to my life, beyond work and the crime/party/drug scene I was used to. I haven't stopped since and I hope I don't ever turn back onto that other path. I've found my soul in speaking the word.

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 in Toronto has given me the chance, for the first time in my life, to feel as though I belong... It doesn't matter what I wear or who I hang out with, as long as I wear my heart on my sleeve and hang out with an open mind... Many of the artists around me have influenced my writing, my performance, my content and my commitment to my craft.

In Toronto's community I have found a family of like-minded individuals, all with their own diverse issues, but similar purpose and passion. I have grown in too many ways to count from the pure love and expression that I have been surrounded by. I hope to help make the community a stable place where new artists/ poets/ dreamers can find a place to call home too. Knowing there are other people out there doing the same thing gives me some sanity and peace with my self.

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

Representing Toronto is huge! Doing it through my home venue is even bigger and better. Last year's Roots Lounge Team (Toronto B) was thrown together last minute and finished in 2nd place, so having taken the time to get together this year we are expecting big things! I was the alternate for that last minute team and knew I had to put in work to make it happen this year. It's been all about dedication and determination to get me this far and I want to carry that with me to Halifax this October. I feel like I'm on a team with some giants of Slam Poetry and Spoken Word and I have to earn my keep at every turn. As someone who has done a lot of moving in his life (around South-Western Ontario) Toronto has always been what I would refer to as my home city (people still dispute it because I have lived in Mississauga, Brampton and around, but seriously: whatever) and to be honest I feel like I'm always representing the diversity of culture and artistic flare from my roots in Etobicoke. My goal is to go out there to Halifax, spread love, speak truth and bring back the title for Toronto.

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

You're gonna love this one; famous to who? I'm not a person overly concerned with watching athletics or following their careers (I love being a part of some good action, I just don't like watching others) and so this is difficult. I'd like to compare myself to Rodney Mullen the famous skateboarder. As a child, Rodney wasn't encouraged to be a skateboarder, but he knew it was right for him. Once he started he gave his all to his practice and perfecting his technique. Rodney Mullen wasn't a typical skater; he is well known for creating/ inventing his own tricks (most notably the 'darkslide') and innovating the freestyle flat-land tricks that are commonplace today. He didn't need people to tell him what was gonna be the 'next big thing' or ever worry about being marketable; the man trusted his instincts and gave it his all. Look him up sometime on the splinternet and just watch the magic. I hope I can use my pen and my voice like Rodney used his feet and his board; wholly as extensions of his energy.

Tomy Bewick 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 by Emily Muir.)

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