Take the 44N down to Streetsville and you’ll find yourself at Cuchulainn’s, the home of Mississauga’s monthly poetry slam. Organized by We Flip Tables, an art collective run by Matt Miller and Brent Peers, the slam serves to unite GTA-based artists.
Last Wednesday’s slam began with an open mic segment consisting of poets, musicians, and rappers. Miller kicked the night off with a poem about falling in love with an undertaker, followed by first-time performer Rema Saba reading poetry. Dr. Woohoo, otherwise known as UTM English professor Brent Wood, performed an original song inspired by Celtic mythology.
As the open mic came to an end, the poetry death match began. Two poets compete, five judges vote, and the poet with the majority vote moves on to the next round. Poets compete in the death match for a chance to become part of the We Flip Tables’ slam team and represent Mississauga at the 2016 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in Winnipeg.
“A suburban team has never won so I’d like us to be the first,” Miller said. The Mississauga team placed eighth at the championship last year.
The death match featured four slam poets: The P.O.E, Same Difference, Tasha, and UTM student Nancie Jona as Queen Vaus. Tasha began the first round with a piece about childhood sexual assault, though she lost to The P.O.E, who won the crowd over with an energetic poem containing an abundance of pop culture references. Same Difference pumped the crowd up with a string of rhymes and alliteration, but Queen Vaus won the vote of all five judges with a poem about breaking racial stereotypes. In the final round, The P.O.E performed a poem about the hope that there is for humanity, but Queen Vaus took the cake with a love letter to herself. She maintained a solid balance between vulgar humour, tragedy, and optimism.
To finish off the night was featured poet Patrick de Belen, the 2012 national champion of the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. De Belen’s poems came from a personal place, dealing primarily with his experience facing racism as a Filipino-Canadian growing up in Toronto. He spoke on issues ranging from the myth of multiculturalism to the internalized racism that plagued him as a youth.
The We Flip Tables Poetry Slam occurs on the last Wednesday of every month at 158 Queen Street South.