Pride Poetry in Full Colour at the Rainbow Slam

The Peterborough Poetry Collective and Rainbow Youth hosted a Rainbow Slam for Pride Week, Thursday, September 26. The slam was a great show of talent, pride, and spoken word. The Spill was absolutely packed with participants and voyeurs to the spectacle, with many people standing or sitting on the floor in order to bear witness.

The night was hosted by slam veteran Ziysah and slam-virgin Lady Driven (anya gwynne from the Rainbow Youth program), and featured Holly Painter of the London slam scene.

Ziysah started the night off with a response to a letter to the editor asking why we have Pride.

“We need Pride to celebrate our survival,” Ziy said. “It is an achievement to overcome one’s fear.”

She was followed by the open mic which saw many first timers, some invigorating freestyling, and poems ranging from depression to acceptance.

For the slam, the rules are every poem must be original and has a 3 minute time limit with a 10 second grace period—for every 10 seconds over this, 0.5 points are lost. Teams are allowed and wordsmiths may have paper or a book in hand to read from, but no props or costumes are permitted.

Painter’s performance came between the first and second rounds of the slam. She performed at two national spoken word festivals, is the Director of the London Poetry Slam, and has been the Grand Slam Champion there twice. She is also a Safe Schools and TEDx speaker. Her current goal is to recite a poem on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

In her first of three poems, Painter quoted one of her teachers: “If you find yourself in a box, the first thing that you should want to do is step out of it.”
She also spoke on bullying and her relation to the slam stage as a home.

Then came the second round of the slam and final judging. The winner of the night was Wes Ryan with 56.3 points from his poems on the current evolution of language and personal experiences with abuse.

Second place went to Sasha Patterson with 55.6 points for her poems on spicy relationships (no really, her second poem was all about spice metaphors). Third place, with 54.3 points, went to Jon Hedderwick for his poems on zombie love and the nature of bees.

Two chapbooks were available at the event, one by various members of the Poetry Collective for $5, and one by veteran Wes Ryan for $5 or pay-what-you-can. The money from the zines goes towards getting the Peterborough slam team to Montreal for the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word taking place November 4 to 9.

The next poetry slam will take place Thursday, October 24 at The Spill. Bring your friends, your words, and your heart.

About Simon Semchuk 51 Articles
Simon Semchuk writes primarily on the arts and queer issues. A third-year English major, he is also interested in theatre, literature, and fluffy animals.