Run by local poets, the Ink Spot Poetry Collective has big plans for the city’s slam scene, including establishing Calgary as a serious contender at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word (CFSW)
Ink Spot is held at Wine-Ohs Bistro on the last Monday of every month with people signing up for open mic, or slam poetry. Admission is $5 at the bistro, at 811 1st St. S.W. downtown.
Open mic is a non-competitive event in which audience members can read their poetry, while slam is a competition in which people read their poems and are evaluated by a panel of randomly selected judges.
“I really like the sense of community here,” said Shafraz Ladak, a Calgary poet who has been writing and slamming for two years. Ladak was the winner of November’s slam.
“There are poets who perform from different skill levels and different points of where they’re writing is at but all are welcome to step on stage and be a little vulnerable.” said Ladak.
“People here are accepting and willing to help other people, they’re very inclusive and loving no matter where you are in your journey.”
One of the founding members of the Ink Spot Collective and captain of the Calgary slam team in 2010 is Tyler Perry.
“It’s a great way to just let lose a lot of pent-up anger or sadness, or even share your happiness and not be worried at being looked at differently,” said Perry. “It’s almost therapeutic.”
Perry is now one of the organizers of ‘Can You Hear Me Now?’ Calgary’s monthly all-ages and youth poetry slam, and Alberta’s provincial school poetry slam competition which will take place in April, 2017.
This month’s feature poet was Vanessa McGowan, a competing national slam poet from 2011 to 2015. Mcgowan is a proud co-founder of WordSpell, a female spoken word series in Toronto.
“Slam is not the typical berets and slow snapping fingers,” said Mcgowan.
“It get’s competitive when people knock each other out with their words and rhymes and the raw emotion that comes with it trying to get that perfect 10 score.”