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Canadian Festival of Spoken Word Descends on Montreal

Posted by Bryan / October 24, 2013

The tenth annual Canadian Festival of Spoken Word (CFSW) rolls into Montreal for the first time November 4th to the 9th. This annual festival moves from city to city every year and includes the Canadian poetry slam team championships, as well as a slew of other events that fall under this year's theme, "Diverse Languages."

(Guest Post by Chris Masson)

"I don't normally like poetry, but that was amazing!"

"Over forty events and one hundred and fifty poets [will] grace Montreal stages in showcases, workshops and panels," says festival director Moe Clark. "In addition to being our first bilingual festival, this year's theme takes us on a poetic journey: from Quebecois to Cree, from raconteur to slam, all in a celebration of voice."

To accomplish this new goal of a bilingual festival, Clark has not only lined up numerous francophone artists like Ivy, Marie-Paul Grimaldi, and poet of honour José Acquelin, she's also formed a partnership with the Literary Translators Association of Canada. LTAC members donated their services to translate at least one poem from each of the 120 poets competing in the slam into the other official language. That text will be projected in real time as it is performed.


"The biggest slam stage in the country"

"If past editions of the festival are any indication, the slam events will be hot tickets," says Stephanie Gaidica, coordinator (or "slam master") for the competition. A slam is a competition where poets perform original (generally pre-written and rehearsed) poems under three minutes long and receive scores from volunteer judges selected from the audience before the show.

"The atmosphere of a slam is lively and fun, with only a moderate emphasis on the competitive aspect of the evening," Gaidica explains. "At CFSW though, the stakes are higher for the poets 'cause it's the biggest slam stage in the country. These are the best slam poets from each city, and they've worked hard to get here. You can expect a palpably electric night of energetic, insightful performances."




Luminaries, Literati, Femanifestoes, and more

Local spoken word mainstay Ian Ferrier performs with his words-and-movement outfit For Body and Light at November 4th's opening night showcase "Franglais en Folie," along with Franco slam impresario Ivy (above right; photo by Christina Alonso) and Innu poet Natasha K. The Mile End Poets Festival, organized by Ferrier, co-presents the next evening's showcase, "Luminaries + Literati," featuring even more Montreal spoken word mainstays, including poet and "word-sound systemizer" Kaie Kellough (above, article header; photo by Mariel Rosenbluth), and Hyena Subpoena performer Catherine Kidd.

On November 6th "Femanifesto" throws Alberta poets Sheri-D Wilson and Mary Pinkoski into the mix with Quebecoises poets, conteuses and fest director Moe Clark--a prodigious talent herself (above, left; photo by Novella DeGiorgi). The showcase "presents seven women celebrating those who inspire them as they address injustices lived by women" for what promises to be a powerful show. Pinkoski (a former Canadian poetry slam champion) and Wilson (the "mama of dada") in particular have the rare and affecting ability to be at once earnest and disarmingly funny. Do not miss your chance to see them.

The Canadian Festival of Spoken Word
November 4th-9th at various venues (including Casa del Popolo, Sala Rossa, Rialto Theatre and Cabaret du Mile-End).
Complete festival schedule and tickets at http://www.CFSW.ca.

Chris Masson is the editor of LitLive.ca, The Canadian Review of Literature in Performance, and will performing at CFSW 2013.

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