Are you considering salvation from the “ravages of insularity and the dictatorship of recycled thoughts?”
Look no further than our own campus for the cure. Giving social change a new voice in Kingston
this weekend is the Dub Poets Collective, a Toronto-based poets’ initiative, whose festival Reloading
the Can[n]on will be the main feature of various campus hotspots this weekend.
Dub poetry is a form of performance poetry, consisting of spoken word over reggae rhythms, which originated in Kingston, Jamaica in the 1970s.
Featured poet Farren Gainer calls dub style “the real McCoy of performance poetry. And now
that there is a real resurgence, with Kingston being the place that is synonymous with dub poetry in Canada, it’s a really encouraging thought.”
Reloading the Can[n]on, which takes its name from a poem by featured performer Klyde Broox, is
the brainchild of a large committee of community poets and Queen’s faculty and students. One of the
event organizers is Lillian Allen, a founder of the Canadian dub poetry movement, two-time Juno Award winner and the first Writer-in-Residence at Queen’s University.
When asked about her hopes for the festival, Allen said she anticipated “that a lot of people from different communities will come out and be joined together by the spirit of the art, the poetry, and the vision that the individual artists are putting forward. I hope it is an event that will nurture young writers and provide a form of mentorship in their midst that they can have access to.”
Scheduled this weekend are performances by more than 50 poets working in various spoken word styles, including faculty members Jan Allen and Elizabeth Greene, Canadian dub icons Dr. Afua Cooper and Clifton Josephs and Montreal word-sound adventurers Kalmunity Word Sound System.
Programming is centred at the Union Gallery and Agnes Etherington Art Centre, with additional events scheduled at Watson Hall and the JDUC.
The festival also offers a writers’ workshop, an open mic night and academic panel discussions.
The “Write to Resist” writers’ workshop is presented in part by Culture Shock and the Queen’s Coalition for Racial and Ethnic Diversity (QCRED) and runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday in the
JDUC’s Robert Sutherland Room.
Just as the Dub Poets Collective “works to consolidate and institutionalize the role of the poet as a public intellectual, political catalyst, educator and community builder,” the workshop also aims to be a means of resistance and positive change.
Darcel Bullen, editor of Culture Shock and festival committee member, called the workshop an important initiative. “It is allowing and hopefully promoting the possibility for marginalized people to express themselves through resistance writing and other creative means,” Bullen said.
“It is really inspiring, especially in an academic environment where people are encouraged to grow.” Also inspiring is the extensive involvement of the student population, whether in a performance or acilitative role, in bringing this year’s festival to Kingston.
Aruna Boodram, ArtSci ’10 sees both potential and necessity in this weekend’s events. “I think it’s
a good thing to expose different kinds of music and poetry because we tend to be so centralized
around one area of art, in this city especially,” Boodram said.
“I don’t think people even know that there are actually spoken word groups in the community of Kingston, and this event shows that there is a lot of potential at Queen’s and helps to encourage awareness for the anti-racism movement.
“It gives a lot of backbone to what we are doing as a collective.” Bullen echoed this sentiment.
“Marginalized people are so often shown to or feel that they should be a part of anti-racism or ulturally-focused work and so they are ‘ghettoized’ into a performance of their difference, instead of being an ntegral part of mainstream contributions to intellectual thought.”
While the ideals of a political and cultural event such as this festival have obvious power and significance, Allen’s goal is a simple one: “That [the festival] will engage a diverse grouping of people who will be committed to carrying on the work, but mostly that people have fun and enjoy the events and are drawn to the festival and to the art, seeing that someone is putting a piece of their heart on stage.”
A full schedule of Reloading the Can[n]on’s events is online at www.dubpoetscollective.com.
The open mic slot is tonight at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre from 9:30 to 11:30 p.m., following performances by SPIN and the R.H.Y.M.E Collective and Peculiar I.
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