Last weekend, the Ontario Provincial Poetry Spoken Word Festival unveiled a vast array of creative artists. Spoken Word artists, and teams from all over Ontario arrived in Peterborough for the weekend to compete and share their work with the community. SLAMtario is an annual spoken word event that takes place in various cities throughout Ontario. This year, the Peterborough Poetry Collective organized SLAMtario and hosted many poets for the duration of the festival. The event was sponsored by the likes of Theatre Trent, the City of Peterborough, the Canadian Mental Health Association, and more. Arthur was present at the preliminary bouts, in which the stunningly beautiful voices heard, and the communities represented, left a vivid impression upon the audience.
The talented performances touched upon a plethora of different themes. One of the performers criticized body standards, and the pressures individuals face to fulfill an unrealistic beauty ideal.
Society has many ways to explicitly and implicitly exert standardized beauty ideals that cause so many people to feel dissatisfied with their own bodies. The wonderfully delivered act was a form of resistance to those pressures, as well as a way of recognizing that beauty comes in many different ways.
Another performance touched upon the wrong doings of the Harper government. They commented on the extent to which many segments of Canada’s population have been passive, and inactive in resisting the menace that some federal policies have upon human rights to certain groups in Canada. In a very strong and passionate delivery, the artist incited the audience to resist and protest those types of rights violations before it is too late.
Moreover, another performer spoke about the world of dating. She highlighted how certain pressures exist to conform to certain types of relationships, and to always keep looking for one. Particularly, she criticized the notion of certain prescribed gender roles when it comes to what is expected from each partner.
Various performers eloquently expressed the tensions that exist when friendships are lost in oblivion, or simply fade away. In a very sensitive manner, the artists enabled the audience to grasp the concept of how the fast paced world in which we live obfuscates the notion that friendship is indispensable and not disposable, and must be maintained against all odds and circumstances.
The lack of jobs and meaningful employment was also teased out during the SLAMtario preliminaries. As one performer wondering how to apply philosophy to life put it: “to serve or not to serve coffee, that is the question.” This line reflects one of the main points of conflict that exists in society today. The lack of employment and underemployment is a prevalent struggle that affects mostly younger generations.
All performers were a living example of the power that spoken word has to showcase society’s problems as well as serving as a medium for expressing resistance and protest. In a way, spoken word can be seen as a type of activism.
These types of events are extremely helpful in encouraging people to express their feelings and thoughts in a meaningful and creative manner. The atmosphere created at Market Hall was welcoming and inclusive, which allowed the audience to feel at peace and enjoy the performances.
Spoken word festivals should be supported, and encouraged. The power of stories and storytelling not only rests on its capacity to bring people together, but also on its ability to transcend time and space.