Poetry slam returns to Powell River Public Library

Host Jillian Christmas will perform her own work and teach youth workshops

Powell River Poetry Slam will return to Powell River Public Library on Friday, November 15. To celebrate the return of community spoken word art after a nine-month hiatus, the library is welcoming poet Jillian Christmas as the host of the evening.

Christmas will also perform some of her own works. She currently lives on the unceded territories of the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam people (Vancouver).

Christmas said she focuses on increasing anti-oppression initiatives in spoken word, and has developed programs in partnership with Toronto Poetry Project, University of British Columbia, and Vancouver Opera, among others. She has facilitated spoken word workshops for youth and adults across Canada, and will be holding workshops at Edgehill Elementary School and Brooks Secondary School during her time in Powell River.

“When I teach workshops, I work on connecting and reminding youth and adults alike that their voices have value, power and are absolutely necessary,” said Christmas. “I hope that my classes bring people closer to themselves and each other.”

This is Christmas’ second visit to Powell River.

“I came to Powell River once before, many years ago; it was one of my first west coast tours and I was travelling with a lovely and well known musician,” she said. “The event was in a private venue, but people came out to fill the venue from wall to wall. I've always loved the Sunshine Coast. There's so much love, support and endless creativity in places like Powell River, and I'm looking forward to visiting again.”

Christmas said she believes that poetry and spoken word art is something everyone is capable of participating in, and is looking forward to seeing the creativity our community has to offer.

“Slam puts poetry back in the hands of the people,” she said. “It removes the fallacy that only academics and critically acclaimed artists have access to a tradition that is as old as language itself. Slam is empowering, and many people find it a tool for healing and community connection. It's a populist art form, a gateway medium, and that's my favourite part.”

Spectators are encouraged to attend the slam to support contestants and enjoy poetry. Those interested in competing are asked to prepare three spoken word poems no more than three minutes in length. All ages and skill levels are welcome to participate. To register, email powellriverpoetryslam@gmail.com, or register in person at the library between 5:15 and 5:45 pm on Friday, November 15.

Christmas encourages the community to become involved in the slam.

“As an audience member, judge, poet, or organizer, there are so many ways to get involved in the business of affirming each other’s truths and helping one another grow,” she said. “All you need to do is take the first step. Pick up the pen, mic, scoreboard, or just warm up your snapping fingers. The possibilities for connection and meaningful conversation are endless. That's the coolest thing about performance poetry: all you need is you. And you are already a brilliant poem.”

The poetry slam will take place from 6 to 8 pm that night.

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