Local slam poets are holding writing workshops in the hopes of attracting new recruits before the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word comes to Ottawa this fall.
Sage Mosurinjohn English, Centretown News
Ikenna Onyegbula, Ian Keteku and Brandon Wint are part of Ottawa's national slam poetry team.
The group behind the workshops – being held at the Umi Café on Somerset Street – is called The Recipe and it’s made up of four of the five members of Ottawa’s 2009 national spoken word championship team.
Ian Keteku, team captain and workshop co-ordinator, says he hopes the weekly sessions will persuade both new and established poets in Ottawa to further develop their craft.
“We’re holding these things because we’ve been relatively successful on the spoken word scene and we want to share that wealth,” says Keteku.
The “Ingredients” workshops, as they are called, offer participants instruction on all things related to spoken word, from the history of the art and its place in a society to tips on how to breathe properly when performing.
“The important thing is that they understand what spoken word is,” says Keteku, who teaches the sessions on performance. “Anybody can read a poem onstage. It takes something else to share a message.”
Sepideh Soltaninia is one of the budding poets. A University of Ottawa student, Soltaninia says she was interested in trying spoken word after she saw Keteku perform in December.
She attended the first series of workshops held earlier this year and has since performed in three poetry slams around Ottawa, placing as high as third.
The seventh annual Canadian Festival of Spoken Word being held in Ottawa in October. Though planning is still underway, festival directors have confirmed that the finals will be held at the National Arts Centre.
Keteku says he thinks the festival could result in a poetry explosion in the city, though he hopes more new poets will emerge before the festival takes place.
Katie Gowrie, a member of Ottawa’s official poetry slam society, the Capital Poetry Collective, says events such as The Recipe’s workshops are what make the Ottawa poetry community special.
“Even though it’s competition, it’s not a competition,” says Gowrie. “Ottawa poets are all about unity, about sharing what they know. That’s why you have the national champs sitting in a coffee shop teaching strangers how to write poetry. It’s all love.”