Last Thursday, The English and Drama Student Society hosted their second annual Slam and Chill event. Hosted at the Blind Duck Pub, students from all years and majors gathered to share their work. For some, it was their first time performing.
Megan Judd, EDSS’s social events director, was the MC for the night. She was funny and welcoming each time she invited a new person onto the stage. Each performer had a different story that they expressed in their poems and monologues. All the audience had to do was sit back, relax, and snap their fingers.
Zineb Hamaimou took the stage first with a poem about her experience as a Muslim woman.
As the evening progressed, the pub was filled with applause, cheers, and snaps. Ophxlia took the stage and performed a slam piece, with almost every line receiving cheers, claps, and hollers.
Zaynab Al-Kari, a second-year English student, shared her poem, “Blossoms.” This poem was her first slam piece. Al-Kari grew up in Syria, where she lived until the war started. Her favourite tree on her farm in Syria inspired the poem. The audience was silent throughout her entire performance.
Amira-Deka Dirie, last year’s slam winner, presented a slam piece about her body and the male gaze. She listed off nine things she wished people wouldn’t ask her, simply because she wears a hijab. Her piece was well-rehearsed and filled with the same passion and vigor that won her first place at last year’s Slam and Chill.
To finish off the first half of the event, Brent Wood, an English professor at UTM, got on stage with his cobalt blue acoustic guitar. Since there was no mic stand, Brent attached a lapel microphone to his shirt and began. He looked at the audience and said, “Tonight I’ll be playing ‘Sisters of Mercy’ by Leonard Cohen. It’s a healing song and I think we really need that.” He even invited members of the audience to join in if they knew the words.
During intermission, the Blind Duck provided complimentary food. Wings, mac and cheese nuggets, Jalapeno poppers, samosas, and spring rolls were available. The cash bar was open all night.
Rudd took the stage after intermission and brought the audience’s attention back to the performers. The second half of the show included monologues. Carl Kersey, EDSS’s associate artistic director, shared a monologue that began with, “Good morning, Mr. President.”
His seamless monologue was not the only work that discussed the recent events in the United States. In the first half, Valentina Pastorello, known as Valkyrie, performed her first-ever slam piece. Similar to Kersey’s piece, Valkyrie’s poem was flawless and about the fears of America’s political situation.
Although all performers had a certain sound and feel to their poems, EDSS’s academic events director Crimson Craighead, EDSS’s associate to social events director Mahera Islam, and volunteer judge Kaityln Fernandez chose the top three performers based on form and audience reception. Al-Kari received third place and was awarded with a $20 Tim Hortons gift card. Deka-Oirie won second place, and received a $30 Chapters gift card. The first place winner was Ophxlia. She won a $50 Boston Pizza gift card.
Mehak Kawatra, president of EDSS, took the stage to say a few words before the show ended: “At the beginning of the show, I never thought I’d say this, but we had such a great problem. We ran out of chairs because of tonight’s turnout.”
EDSS hosted a wonderful night full of poetry and spoken word. They created an environment that welcomed each and every performer to the stage, regardless of experience.