Slamapalooza Team Performs Poetry in the Park

KPU’s slam poets are raising funds to attend the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word

KPU’s Slamapalooza team sits with fans at Trout Lake Park during their Sept 17 fundraiser. (Alyssa Laube)

The poets of Slamapalooza, Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s slam poetry team, hope to recreate their previous success at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, so long as they can scrape the together enough funds to attend the festival again.

To that end, the team has been hosting fundraisers throughout the year, with the latest taking place at Trout Lake Park on Sept. 17.

“[Slamapalooza is] one of the last collegiate teams at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and I’m hoping that the KSA and KPU are proud of us,” says one of the team’s poets, KPU student Justin Bige.

The Canadian Festival of Spoken Word is Canada’s largest slam poetry event. Each year, teams of artists from across the country gather at the festival to compete for their chance to become the number one slam poetry team in the nation. This year the festival is being held in Peterborough, Ontario from Oct. 22 to 28.

“Our [team] philosophy is less about going in to specifically win. We want our poets to go out there and share the poems they really care about,” says Slamapalooza coach Simon Massey.

Massey has been with the team since its founding in 2014, when it was born out of the yearly KPU poetry event of the same name. In their first year at the CFSW Slamapalooza made it all the way to the semi finals, placing eighth in the overall competition.

Though the team’s interest in attending the event lies more in establishing an emotional connection with the audience than in winning the top prize, both Bige and Massey admit that they would like to beat UBC’s slam poetry team at the festival. As a newcomer, Bige is most excited to attend the CFSW for the opportunity to experience the best of what Canadian spoken word has to offer.

“I’m just excited to see what poetry is like across the country, and to get to hear some stories that I haven’t had a chance to hear,” he says.

The team has been working hard to secure funding to make the trip happen. Most recently, the team hosted a fundraising event at Trout Lake called Poetry in the Park. For a donation of $5.00, attendees were treated to an afternoon of poetry from the Slamapalooza team members. Bige says the event raised just over $200.00 towards funding the trip, and the team will be asking the university and student association to provide additional funds.

Massey says he is fairly confident that the team will be able to make it to Ontario for the festival, but he’s less sure that he will be able to go with them.

“Ideally I’d also like to go, but our priority is getting the team there,” says Massey. “They’ll get to go there and do their thing and they’ll make us proud.”

Note: Justin Bige, who was interviewed for this article, is a contributor for The Runner.


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