A couple weeks ago I took part in a poetry slam at Capital Slam here in Canada’s capital …Ottawa! It was my second time performing at this slam or any slam in general for that matter. I saw some familiar faces and I knew the heat some of the performers were going to bring.  For those of you who don’t know much about poetry slams, or have associated  poetry events to those in films such as 22 Jump Street. A poetry slam is essentially a competition where poets get on a stage and perform their poems that are then judged. At Capital Slam there is a 3 minute time limit for poems, poems are judged by randomly selected members of the audience on a scale of 1-10 and there are 2 rounds. You can write about anything and perform however you like. I’ve been to quite a few poetry slams mostly in Toronto and I’m usually blown away by the talent and content of the poems. I would say the best poetry slam I’ve been to was for Unity Charity in Toronto a few years back. I was astonished by the age of most contestants, the delivery and style of poems , lyricism and ultimately the impact they had on me. For the longest time I’ve wanted to perform in competitions and even though I never did I thank Unity Charity for giving me a start in spoken word and  for exposing me to the culture and letting me get of taste of the community  I one day hope to be a part of. The poetry scene in Toronto is really bumping and since I’ve come to Ottawa, I’ve hoped to get connected with the poetry scene here. Unfortunately I haven’t gotten around to it and haven’t had much luck. Personally, from what I’ve seen there isn’t as large of a platform for this art form here… yet. I know there are events that take place around the city, I may be mistaken but it’s hard to find accurate information and details online regarding these events. I will continue to look around and update. If anyone out there knows of any poetry slams going on in the greater Ottawa area feel free to give me a shout!

For Capital Slam I performed 2 poems called “They” and “Black Mothers.” (You can find the poems and video clips of the performance below.)

I wrote “They” a couple weeks prior and “Black Mothers” last year for a black history event but I never ended up performing it.

There were 10 poets in total, I made it past the first round with the poem “They” and ended up tying for second after the second round with the 5 remaining poets. I got a .5 time penalty on both poems that actually cost me a chance to rank higher. This event showed me I really need to practice more, I found myself stumbling a lot and not having enough confidence in front of the audience. Personal tip for slamming…memorize poems! I have a long way to go and a lot to work on so bear with me!

Hope you go and check out a slam for yourself!

THEY (shortened video ^)

THEY don’t want you to

You know THEY don’t want you to

You knew that when you signed up for this

but you never let that stop you right

You never let the THEYS creep into your subconscious

Then again, you probably know them by name but use THEY to generalize them

There must be so many you’ve stored up

THEY must’ve all come together to aim at one target

Inside out your headquarters

For a quarter of my words I can feed you what you need for energy to start your engine without a key

But with the fear of underperforming, you won’t even start up

The THEYS probably told you you wouldn’t add up

so you took the THEYS 2 cents and you drowned the quarter out

So I let you merry go round

While I look around for another Stallion who hasn’t been conditioned in his own mind to be locked up on a platform that he could easily jump off of but is trained to think he could never get out

Do you even want to

Did you just ask THEY if you do?

Cuz if you did we’re gonna have to rethink how much time you’ve been spending alone

What you do in your free time or if you’ve been seen talking to yourself out loud

Because if THEY have to answer for you

I’m sorry but I’ve come too late

Who are these THEYS

And where do THEY come from

Are THEY a pre-installed playlist you haven’t gotten around to clearing out

Or do you listen do them on the daily

Are you subliminally hypnotized by the melody of their don’ts won’t can’t never and sure as hell don’t know why’s?

Do THEY sing to you in a frequency that only you can hear

And when anybody tells you the opposite of what THEY say all you can hear is the little THEYS telling you

HEY

Don’t believe what she says

She’s just being fake

Yea she’s being nice because she feels sorry for you

As THEY cackle in your head, you nod and say thank you even though you wish she had never said anything in the first place

You take your THEYS on dates

You used to be tall and your height still agrees but THEY shrink you to be just this small

Your dates can’t see through the lines you’ve been fed cuz see we still live in an era where what we see is what we believe

Anything we don’t like we don’t give the chance to see underneath

But your layers are so deep

And you don’t want to start peeling because they’ll make you start feeling emotions that THEY won’t let you reach

When did this all begin?

Who was the first THEY to breach you from within

THEYS are usually generally shared but like I said before

We all call them specific names

THEY were always so passive for me

What discouragement people thought they were whispering to me felt like the echoes they were screaming in the deepest depth of the pit they put me in

Unlike a nightmare you can awake from or a bad trip that will wear off

THEY become a loop that plays to your own heartbeat

When you were little you didn’t like to seem a little brittle

All the men that you had seen were tall, lean and chiseled

They never took you under their wing to see you bloom into pedals

Each word turned into thorns

Bullies grew into different forms

The playground was now your nightmare, the playground was then your home, your home became your job

Your hate within yourself made you believe there is was no God

The voices kept getting louder

Bosses, aunts, brothers mothers, sisters and fathers, now had a say on how your life turned into a disaster

You never bartered for your dreams, you parked them

Because your clouds became darker

They weighed heavy on your heart and cloud 9 became an imposter

Hate fosters and what people tend to forget is that they adopt what hate resents

If hate don’t like you guess who won’t either

Hate holds the gun but the trigger is only inside you

You are the terrorist who wont see past sight scope

The target is locked in, don’t approach his bullets are lethal

But inside you’re still a fetus in a fetal position

THEY are a caliber so deadly it whispers while piercing

The only protection you put up they will leave defenseless and weeping

You let the wrong enemy scream

And you let them come in

Black Mothers name their children Justice because the affiliation to the system is the closest they’ll ever come to being proud of Justice

Black children are named Justice to know that in some context they can find hope in themselves and not the system that liberates the suspects and buries the victims in cold blood tactics

Paper work is filled marked case closed but the only sealed fate is in closed caskets

Black mothers name their children Justice so that it can never be taken away from their youngest

Black children are named Justice so they know that injustice on their lives will never come between their everlasting sound sleep, never to be awoken for haunting

We cannot revenge black children for we will never avenge justice

Justice will lay restless for a black child

Justice lays resting waiting to be arrested but the trigger was trained to fire

so Justice will sacrifice his blood to pavements

For his name to mean something more than the engravings stoned upon his headstone

We must awaken the Justices from within

Black Mothers name their children Justice so they can grow up and remember that the state once held a vow to protect him

Justice doesn’t know he holds power

Justice is justice

Unbias, blind, deaf and tasteless to the socially constructed structures of a mapped convex

Inhabited by mindless, soulless, unrightfully catechizing, proselytizing  minions to their madness

We’re ruled buy selfish intentions of others and the unstably mental white man

Justice doesn’t deserve human it deserves lawful

We cannot revenge black children for we will never avenge Justice

Black mothers name their children Justice so they can rise up to change history

Black children are named Justice so they can rise up to avenge the struggle of their own ancestors

Not to be eternally enslaved to a system who once persecuted in clusters

The black women, men and children who yearned for the right to live out biological organs and not just the pigments of their skin

We cannot revenge black children for we will never avenge Justice

Slaves never knew justice it wasn’t something to believe in

Justice the black child can never know justice the law

For justice has already failed the black child

For justice is a slave of it’s own to meer human minds

Justice can’t justify why that black child can no longer wear a cap and gown to graduation, how she can no longer be given away at the alter, kiss his mother goodbye on the way out to school

Justice failed to be just

Justice failed to serve and protect justice, the black child

But we cannot revenge black children for we will never avenge Justice

Justice has no rights but to be lawfully just

Justice does not have the right to remain silent

Anything justice says cannot and will not be held against justice in the court of law

Because The court of law is a playwright for educated, degreed actors

So black mothers name their children Justice to give her offspring hope like they have the right to live abidingly free

Black children are named Justice to act out as though moral righteousness has no pigment impairments and can be obtained dignified and deemed pronounceable for any breathing human

But Justice, our black child is kept hostage for a ransom of more of the young black blood

So it is just of us to proclaim in our dark shadows in night terrors, in fear stricken crowds that black lives matter because

Yes we are right

Black lives do matter

But that should already be a given birth right honour

And if you don’t recognize that then maybe the lives of your people’s children already do matter

We cannot revenge black children for we will never avenge Justice

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