Slamming the status quo

Students take the stage at Queen’s Poetry Slam Event

One of the competitors performs her piece at Queen’s Poetry Slam night.
Image by: Alex Pickering
One of the competitors performs her piece at Queen’s Poetry Slam night.

Queen’s Poetry Slam has seen a rise in participants this school year, which founder Danielle D’Entremont finds encouraging.

The AMS — ratified club, established last year, hosted their first event of the school year this Monday at the Grad Club.

A poetry slam is a spoken word competition where judges vote on two of the best poems. The poems are performed over 2-3 minute intervals.

Monday’s event featured 14 poets from both the Queen’s and the Kingston communities. Four poets performed during the open mic session that opened the evening. The remaining 10 competed in the poetry slam.

The house was packed and the room was buzzing — thanks in part to D’Entremont, who took the role of emcee.

“The most important thing for me is that it’s a positive and safe space and everyone is free to speak their mind,” said D’Entremont, ArtSci ’15.

Poet Ben Sterlin opened the night with a poem he wrote last week as a birthday present for his mother. Sterlin’s performance was both delicate and vigorous; words subtle yet precise.

Sterlin’s heart-stirring set the bar for the evening, but none of the other poets failed to meet it.

Bob MacKenzie followed with five quick poems in rapid succession, aided by his soothing voice.

To end the open mic, Sean Waldbillig offered a poem he wrote the morning of. It was Waldbillig’s first performance at the Slam, having just moved to Kingston last month.

The poem was courageous, insightful, funny and sincere, and he delivered it with deft and charm.

Following the open mic, D’Entremont introduced the poetry slam. Poems had to be less than three minutes and were judged on a scale from one to 10.

Among the poets, there were Queen’s students and Kingston community members, both first-timers and long-standing supporters. They spoke on diverse subject matters, touching on the lighthearted and humorous, the spiritual and the emotional, without being exclusive.

The top two placing poets were both in their first year of their undergraduate programs, with Emily Keeler, ArtSci ’18, taking first place.

D’Entremont knows the therapeutic power of community art spaces firsthand.

“It’s so wonderful to see the young talent coming up and it’s so inspiring,” D’Entremont said, lauding the passion and genuineness of the young poets. “It almost reinvigorates me to write poetry.

“Poetry is free therapy to me,” she added. “I really want to provide this for people in any way that I can.”


Poetry, Slam

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