Slamapalooza Winner to Represent KPU Slam at Verses Festival

KPU student Mariah Negrillo-Soor will take part in the Canadian Individual Poetry Slam next month

Mariah Negrillo-Soor will be representing KPU at CIPS. (Ivy Edad)

Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s monthly poetry slam series, Slamapalooza, recently held a “season finale” of sorts to determine who would represent the KPU slam at the Canadian Individual Poetry Slam (CIPS), a one-on-one slam poetry competition which is an integral part of the annual Verses Festival. The event took place on the Surrey campus on Feb. 28 and resulted in a win for Mariah Negrillo-Soor, who was part of the KPU Slam Poetry Team that competed in the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word last November.

Since discovering her love of spoken word, Negrillo-Soor has become an active member of KPU’s poetry community. She considers her participation in Slamapalooza to be the next step in her performance career.

“I’ve always wanted to compete, but I was super nervous about it,” she says. “I thought my voice sounds weird, my poetry sucks, but it has been really a big confidence booster. It has made me take my writing and poetry more seriously.”

The poets she has seen perform during her time with Slamapalooza have also had a major impact on Negrillo-Soor’s life.

“Hearing other poets is one of my favourite things,” she says. “I just feel like my life has more purpose.”

This April will be the first time that Negrillo-Soor attends the Verses Festival. Negrillo-Soor has already made connections with some of the poets she will be competing against at CIPS through attending events by the Vancouver Poetry Slam.

“[CIPS] will be another opportunity to see people in the scene and kind of get to know people even better,” she says. “This is my home, and I’ll feel more comfortable. I’ll actually want to talk to people.”

Slamapalooza is funded by the Kwantlen Student Association and organized by Simon Massey and Chelsea Franz. Both of the organizers strive to contribute to the KPU community through Slamapalooza.

Most of the audience members in attendance for the Slamapalooza event were students from the creative writing departmen. While the event was going on, select members of the audience shouted interjections like, “I know this poet!” and “Do the thing with the words!”

The slam community at KPU is an intimate yet welcoming group of people sharing work that conveys great emotion.

“You can just be an observer,” explains Franz. “You don’t need any sort of knowledge about writing or poetry. Don’t be shy. Don’t be nervous to come approach us if you’ve never been to a slam before.”

She continues, “My ideal is to reach people who don’t consider themselves poets or writers or anything like that, people who just vaguely thought this might be a cool thing.”

The next Slamapalooza event will be held on March 21. Franz encourages people to come if they’re in the mood to hear some beautiful words.

“If you want to feel some things, it’s the best place to feel with no judgement,” she says. “People come and they speak their truths. You’re able to connect with people that you don’t necessarily get to be privy to unless you read their work. It’s just a great community space. Everyone is so welcoming; there’s no judgement, and everyone is very inclusive.”

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