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Here's the low-down on a great spoken word event that's in town right now!
The Canadian Festival of Spoken Word (CFSW) is back in the capital for the first time since its inception in 2004 with the largest slam-focused spoken word event in Canadian history. From October 12 to 16, 2010, Ottawa will be treated to a wide-ranging display of Canadian slam poetry and spoken word featuring more than 100 of the best spoken word poets from 15 communities across Canada.
Over the course of five nights, 18 teams participate in highly competitive poetry slams that will determine this year's Canadian Slam Champions. Home of the defending champions, Ottawa has two teams competing—Capital Slam and Urban Legends—both attempting to keep the title in the capital this year.
CFSW 2010 Ottawa features some of the biggest names in spoken word, most notably Dwayne Morgan with Toronto's Up From the Roots, Truth Is... with the Burlington Slam, RC Weslowski from Vancouver, El Jones from Halifax, and John Akpata on Ottawa's Capital Slam team.
The CFSW opens tonight with a Francophone Showcase featuring Outaouais poet Marjolaine Beauchamp and closes with performances by the festival's Poets of Honour Anthony Bansfield a.k.a. „the nth digri? and Shauntay Grant.
For more info: www.cfsw.ca
This past weekend, my friend Salim Uddin started offering brunch at his Xpresso Café at Cumberland and George streets in the Market. On Sunday I went to check it out and made this little video about the experience.
He gave it a good shot, but Ottawa's Tony Fouhse did not take home top prize in the international 10 Best 10 photo competition. Fouhse was the Canada region representative in the contest and executed a wonderful shoot in Guerilla #24 ("Arists of the Montreal Metropolis"). See highlights from the shoot in the below video put together by the folks at 10 Best 10. The competition winner, Kylie Coutts, entered a sexy fashion spread that appeared in Australia's Oyster magazine. See the Coutts video below the Fouhse video.
Images courtesy of Graham Thompson
Post by Innika La Fontaine
It seems that whenever I switch on the news all I hear are the stories with shocking numbers: 13 killed by roadside bomb in Kabul; 35 orphaned by a terrorist attack in Iraq; 200 displaced from a small village in Darfur. So yeah, I know some statistics on the subject of war and conflict—but I don’t really know much about the people behind the headlines.
That’s why I’m thankful that two local artists throwing out some numbers of their own for a powerfully hopeful look at the lives of refugees.
As Ottawa’s World Refugee Week (WRW) rolls around this year (June 16 to 20), Graham Thompson and Sherry Tompalski are pulling together 65 works of art, 25 artists, 23 videos, 19 speakers, 13 non-government organizations, and two plays—all for our educational gain.
Now in its third year, the WRW celebration—that’s right, celebration—humanizes the stories and experiences of refugees and immigrants in Canada. Taking place at the Library and Archives Canada (395 Wellington Street) it will feature portraits, presentations and performances by activists and refugees from around the globe.
And given the fact most refugee stories are told by some stone-faced white guy in a metropolitan newsroom, it’s a welcome change to get the story first hand.
Thompson and Tompalski—a videographer and painter/designer respectively—planted the seed for WRW on a roadtrip to Chicago in 2007 when they envisioned a project about Afghani refugees in Canada. Their first exhibit of this kind of work ballooned into the massive five-day festival it is today.
When I asked Thompson about the need to put on a show of such proportions, he educated me with a soft-spoken, well-considered answer.
Meeting to discuss issues surrounding refugees is nothing new, Thompson pointed out—NGO’s and universities do it all the time—but generally people who go to these gatherings can get very burnt out by talking about torture for, say, four hours. But by putting together a festival of theatre, dance, media, music, visual art, in combination with these speeches, you create a broader emotional space to help digest the information.
Rather than a draining set of panel talks and lectures, this WRW will be an interactive and vibrant melting pot of arts and culture.
Each artist was selected to exhibit work as a refugee or in association with refugees and they’ll all be on hand to chat about the incredible diversity of work that’s included. If you can’t find something you like in this festival (there’s body painting, photonovels, paintings, singing, dancing, folklore and more I’ve probably missed) you probably just don’t like art.
Thanks to various government grants supporting the week, artists will be paid a bursary for their participation. For a refugee who once upon a time studied visual art in his or her homeland, this is a much-needed opportunity to build up a viable portfolio in a new country.
Back to the numbers thing: there are some 44 million people around the globe who have been driven from their homes by war, famine, economic collapse, and poverty. It’s a number so large even Thompson has to laugh at nervously to comprehend. World Refugee Week offer us a rare and important chance to relate to the lives of refugees beyond the television screen.
To boot, all festival events are free. For more information check out www.refugeeweek.com.