Hosted by the English and Drama Student Society and the UTM Drama Club, UTM’s first slam poetry event this year was held at the Blind Duck on Friday. The pub was filled with actors and poets alike.

Corey Belford, the event’s MC, kept the show running smoothly with a series of jokes and friendly interactions with the performers. Special guest Matt Miller, formerly known as “Lip Balm” from Mississauga’s own “We Flip Tables” slam poetry club, also made an appearance and blew the audience away with his  compelling poem about the troubles that come with choosing one’s path in life.

Performers took to the stage and recited personal and published poetry as well as monologues from their favourite movies. With 80 people present, Slam and Chill was  intimate yet still full of energy.

The audience was loyal to the performers and everyone stayed until the end. Judges Siddharth Singh, president of EDSS, and Khira Wieting, president of UTMDC, were to announce a poetry winner and a monologue winner at the end of all the performances, which served as an incentive for audience members to stick around.

Since the event was held at the Blind Duck, EDSS had to share the space with other clubs that occupied other areas of the Student Centre. It sounded like there was a Harry Potter convention going on in the next room, as loud booms and epic music from The Prisoner of Azkaban made it difficult to hear some of the performers.

While it would seem that an event like this one would primarily attract students from the humanities, Slam and Chill in fact hosted artists from many different majors, even biology and criminology. The Blind Duck provided wings, pizza, deep-fried KD, and samosas during breaks between sets.

I was moved by Tobi Ogude’s series of personal poems discussing religion, race, and intimacy. Ogude’s raw execution and impressive memorization made his set extremely memorable. Jillian Robinson performed a poetry recitation with Lucy Morgan about falling in love and the importance of protecting the inner and outer body. The piece was particularly powerful as both performers were in sync throughout.

The last performer of the night, Amira Dirie, presented a poem about her African descent, and how her background comes to the fore in social situations. Dirie’s flawlessly memorized poem discussed race, the colour of her skin, and self-image. Dirie won a cash prize for the poetry segment after a standing ovation and a sea of both applause and snaps. The winner of the monologue segment was Jillian Robinson, who recited a piece from the perspective of a woman struggling with her marriage and her husband’s desire to have a child.

It is clear that the EDSS put in a lot of work to make the event happen: the society started promoting well in advance, they were organized, and there was food. Whether read from a book, memorized, original, borrowed, or performed with a friend, the pieces performed at the slam event contributed to the small yet successful event.

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