Last Friday night, I entered The Drake Hotel Underground for a night of poetry. Hosted by the Toronto Poetry Project, The Ragdolls took the stage as part of the bimonthly Toronto Poetry Slam event.
The Ragdolls are a trio of Toronto-based slam poets. Their collective includes Londzo Drury, Twoey Gray, and Cassandra Myers.
The event was hosted by David Silverberg. He was funny, dynamic, and created a positive energy in the room for poets and audience members. The stage was flushed with red lighting, the music pounded, and the overall energy that night was exhilarating.
The evening began with an open mic. Only five people were allowed to participate, so not everyone had the opportunity to perform. For those who were randomly selected, their poetry was inspiring. These performers set the stage for the night, kicking off the event with great talent.
The open mic was followed by the first round of slam poetry. Five judges were picked from the audience, and 12 participants who signed up to be in the draw were picked out of a hat. Although the first round was long, the passion in the performers was evident. The audience was snapping, clapping, and one poem even warranted a supportive hiss. The evening’s winner was Justus Forall, who took home the first-place title.
Upon completion of the first round, the long-awaited Ragdolls performance began. I took a few moments to speak with them before the show began. Gray described the group as “an all-female, queer, and youth collective who tour and tell their stories”. She explained that they met at the BAM! Toronto Youth Slam and discovered that their “creative juices flow better when [they’re] being encouraged by one another as opposed to competing with one another.”
Drury expanded on this by sharing how “[they] slam[med] against each other, but ahead of time, [they] asked each other for help.”
When the trio took the stage, they performed a piece entitled “Thick Skin” from their newly released book of slam poetry, Hand Stitching for the Thick-Skinned. The piece dove into what “thick skin” meant for each of them. With Drury on guitar and all three on vocals, their spoken word possessed a distinct musicality. The poems were stunning.
The Ragdolls are a talented group of individuals who undeniably own a unique, collective voice. They’re amazing role models for young girls, as they embody the idea of female unity and never allow the male-dominated poetry arena to block their ambitions. Myers described the event as “kind of like [their] graduation.”