Slam dunk for equality

Richmond Campus holds its first slam poetry event.
By Jessica Brynelson
[contributor]

On Nov. 26, Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Richmond campus held its first poetry slam: Slamming the Binary. This event has typically been held on Surrey campus during Women’s History Month, but Kwantlen Student Association’s president Jessica Lar-Son wanted to “bring these conversations to Richmond.” The poetry slam was held in the Melville Centre and was a resounding hit. Featuring two astounding student performers, as well as an open mic session, all performances focused largely on themes of gender equality and feminism. There was certainly something for everybody, with some performers’ styles being more serious and others rather ironic and comical.

The main purpose of these poetry slams is to create a safe space for students to raise issues that they have faced or believe in. Performers are almost always willing to chat afterwards in this accepting and creative environment.

This spoken word event also featured a panel for students to ask questions to the two featured performers, Scout and Elysia Glover. Lar-Son was also on the panel as the KSA’s women’s representative. She began the night by addressing the fact that there are issues in society that we as students and members of society should be addressing. She stated “We created this event in the spirit of community,” and noted that they were excited to be able to bring events like this out to campuses beyond Surrey. Lar-Son hopes to promote gender equality and inclusivity by “creating spaces for discourse” at all the KPU campuses.

When asked about their definitions of feminism during the panel, Lar-Son simply stated “gender equality.” Scout elaborated on the subject by declaring, “Everybody needs it and everybody uses it at some point in their life . . . it’s everybody having the same equal playing field and not having anything gender based.” Glover also shared that, “I feel like it’s really important to replicate [safe spaces] and give other people the opportunity to be heard as well.”

One of the performers during the open mic period was Natasha Receno: she was a part of the KPU Slamapalooza team that placed in the semi-finals of the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word this past October as one of the top eight teams in Canada. “Being surrounded by some of the top poets in Canada just blew me away,” she says. Receno also took home the top prize at November’s Slamapalooza event. She describes her slam poetry experience as both “empowering” and “humbling,” to have the opportunity to share her work and experiences with others.

For those who missed the event, KPU’s Surrey campus will once again play host to the annual Slamming the Binary event in March. Slamapalooza is also held on the third Thursday of every month, in the Grassroots Cafe, with cash prizes for the top three poets. The event is free to attend and participate.

As Scout points out, “You could turn anything into slam poetry,” meaning that anyone has the ability to convert their feelings or experiences into spoken word.

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