Slamapalooza Crowns 2019 Champion, Assembles Team for National Festival

KPU’s poetry slam will send a team of five to compete in the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word this fall

From left: Ivy Edad, Mirth, Ainslie Glass, Marz, and Tawahum Bige are the members of Slamapalooza’s 2019 poetry slam team. (Chelsea Franz)

Note: The author of this article, Chelsea Franz—also known as Franz the Poet—is the new Slamapalooza Slam Master, and will be coaching the team throughout the upcoming year.

KPU’s monthly poetry slam, Slamapalooza, held its final competitive slam of the 2018-19 year in the Surrey Conference Centre on May 15.

The winner of the slam, a KPU student whose stage name is Mirth, was crowned the 2019 Slamapalooza Champion. She, along with the next four highest-scoring poets, will go on to represent Slamapalooza at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in October.

Mirth, a psychology major, says that she is shocked, humbled, and honoured to be this year’s Slamapalooza champion. Though she has only participated in a handful of creative writing workshops, Mirth has loved reading and writing since childhood, and feels that she is at her strongest while she’s performing.

Attending a national poetry competition for the first time is an exciting opportunity for Mirth, who adds that she’s glad to be going with “such good people.”

The other members of the Slamapalooza team this year are Tawahum Bige, Marz (Mariah Negrillo-Soor), Ivy Edad, and Ainslie Glass. All of the poets are KPU students except for Glass, who is a student at Burnsview High School in Delta.

This will be the second consecutive year that Glass and Marz have represented the KPU poetry slam at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, while Tawahum will be joining the Slamapalooza team for a record-breaking third time.

Unlike last year, when the Slamapalooza team wasn’t finalized until September, the new team will have months to prepare for the national competition, which will once again be held in Guelph, Ontario from Oct. 13 to 19.

“All of the preparation is actually really exciting,” says Bige about being a part of the team this year. “We actually have all this time to get our poetry together and write team pieces, to support each other, to figure out each other’s needs.”

“[Last year] when I made it on the team, it was super last minute,” says Marz, who replaced another poet three days before the team left for the competition. “This time, I feel like a lot of work has gone into this, not just for myself, but for everyone else who is on the team. It’s been such a good process and I feel excited for what we come up with.”

Marz adds that performing as a slam poet is “super healing” for her and many of her peers.

“It’s given me a platform to express myself, but also to connect with others who have similar stories,” she says.

“I feel like this community really does a lot to uplift other poets, and it’s amazing that it exists,” adds Edad. “There is a lot of validation that comes from beautiful words.”

The team looks forward to working together, demonstrating their skill set on a national stage, and witnessing the performances of other poets at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word.