Posted: June 7, 2010 in Slam

So nothing much happened in the poetry world this weekend…


This Saturday was the Capital Slam Finals! A new champion was crowned, a new team was born, and the countdown has begun to the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word!

The team:


Before the show, I think everyone had an opinion about who would be on the team and who wouldn’t, not just based on perceived talent but based on semi-final scores, since the scores are cumulative.

I can tell you what I thought would happen: Champ – OpenSecret, Team – Chris Tse, Truth Is, Prufrock, ALT – John Akpata. This is nearly the order from the semi-finals, with Pruf slipping ahead of John. I thought that Pruf had a little bit more desire, just based on the fact that this would be his first time on the team.

I misread how much John wanted to be on the team. πŸ™‚

The show was kicked off by a strong performance as Sac poet by Hodan Ibrahim. Hodan just qualified for the Urban Legends the night before and has a decent chance to be repping Ottawa at the festival as well.

The first round of the slam was tight, tight, TIGHT! Tight performances, but also tight scoring. The scoring was so tight that there was very little wiggle room between poets. Prufrock was the big star of Round 1, doing well enough to vault John and Truth into 3rd place. Brandon Wint did an incredibly moving piece that got the first standing ovation of the night, and that moved him within striking distance of the team spots. Open Secret and Loh El had the next highest scores, but they were close enough to the pack that a: OpenSecret didn’t widen the gap between him and Chris Tse by much, and Loh El didn’t close the gap between him and the team spots by much.
When the first round was over, John Akpata and Truth Is were tied in the important fourth position and ready to fight it out.

Before the second round Jenna Tenn-Yuk did a sac with her ‘Everyone Loves a Jamasian Girl’ piece. We are going to have to keep watching Jenna. She is going to be a player on the Ottawa Slam scene next year!

Round 2 was CRAZY! The stand-out and big news was Chris Tse who did is now-famous ‘I’m Sorry I’m a Christian’ poem. He performed this piece in Vancouver earlier this year and the YouTube video went viral, scoring over 50,000 hits. (I just went and checked my most hits on YouTube… 155. I rock πŸ™‚ )

Chris rocketed into first place despite a good showing by OpenSecret. The other big moves were John Akpata and Brandon Wint moving ahead of thier closest competitors to move into 3rd and 5th, respectively.

Before the third round, (TAFKA) Marcus Jameel rocked a six minute epic (‘victims of a holocaust by victims of a holocaust’. Heavy.) as a sac. Nobody cared that he got a 9 point time penalty. It was just that good.

When I gave Nathanael the order for the third round, I told him to not announce the names. He considered it for a moment and agreed. There are only four poets in the third round so everyone who is called up knows that they are on the team. So when Nathanael said, “The first poet in the third round and the first member of the 2010 Capital Slam Team – Prufrock”, Pruf went absolutely nuts. He wasn’t keeping track of the scores himself so he hadn’t realized he was in. It was a pleasure to watch him as he leapt with joy across the stage. It is his second year slamming and first year on the team and he was STOKED. Then he dropped a wicked piece done completely in a thick Jamaican accent that was a huge crowd pleaser.

Next up was John Akpata. When he finished his poem, he had a 1 point time penalty (which meant the difference between third and fourth, but that’s okay), and that is when I realized that it was the only time penalty of the night (not counting Marcus as a sac poet).

OpenSecret did ‘When It Rains’, the poem for his sister. It scored well… but not enough to overcome the momentum of Chris Tse.

Before the team was announced we got a surprise performance from England’s own Rob Gee!

There are a few moments that really stick with me. The first big one was Prufrock realizing he would be on the team. The next was announcing that the team alternate would be Brandon Wint. The alt spot is important to me, as I held it the previous two years, and seeing the love and support for Brandon was incredible. He has been a great teammate and I really value knowing him.

The next one was TRYING to announce Chris Tse as the 2010 Capital Slam Champion, fighting a 300-strong ovation that made it hard to make myself heard.

The last one was a more personal one, and it revolves around John Akpata. First off, it was really nice of John to stop me from ending the show so he could thank Nathanael and me for all we have done throughout the year. That was really nice… but that is not what I am referring to.
What I am talking about is the moment that I realized how much this meant to John. He was the first ever Capital Slam Champ, back in 2005 and hasn’t competed seriously since then (by his choice)… until this year. John is one of these guys that always seems so cool and laid back. From his outward veneer you would think that nothing really bothers him and nothing is worth getting too worked up over…
until I saw him standing on stage with the team and talking to people and thanking people, with the biggest smile I have ever seen him flash. He was positively beaming.

He wanted this and he loved this.

Now I look forward to seeing this team in action: Chris Tse, OpenSecret, Prufrock, John Akpata, and Brandon Wint. They have a lot to live up to since last year’s team, The Recipe, are the reigning National Slam Champions. Regardless…what an amazing team. πŸ™‚

Great respect to Truth Is, Brad Morden and Graeme ‘Loh El’ O’Farrell for helping to make a great show.

That wasn’t the only thing going on this weekend as Urban Legends had their semi-finals on Friday night. I’ll leave in depth coverage to others but I wanted to point out a couple of people:

Synonymous. Wow. This cat was new this year and I already knew he was good, but he took it to another level. He is going into the Finals tied with Marcus Jameel in first. It will be hard to beat Marcus, but I’ll be pulling for him (nothing personal Marcus πŸ™‚ ), but I know that he is going to be a name you will need to remember.

D-Lightfull. I have never been happy to see someone not do as well as they had hoped, but I can now say that I am happy for D-Lightfull’s time penalty at the Capital Slam Semi-Finals. If she had not received that penalty she would have been in the CapSlam Finals and as great as it would have been to have her there, she wouldn’t have made the team (that isn’t a dig on her… I’m saying she would have been in Loh El’s spot where climbing up all those spots would have been awfully hard. Brandon had to be a superstar to go from 7th to 5th. To go from 8th, and then PASS Brandon, would have been nearly impossible for ANYBODY). Instead she went to the UL semi-finals and ROCKED it. She amped her game up again and is now sitting in 3rd with a really good shot to make the team! If she can go to the festival as part of the UL team, any regrets about a 3:13 time will be banished.

Sean O’Gorman. What to say about Sean? When he first starting slamming he was this quiet poet who read with his face in his book and kind of mumbled into the mic. As he started making himself clearer and learning how to do justice to his poems we learned what a dope poet he was. There was just always that one little spark missing that made him connect with the larger audience. At the UL semi-finals he found that spark. He is now going into the UL finals and I think he may have turned a corner. I really look forward to him being part of our community next year.

Going into the finals, in order (I think): 1(tied) Marcus Jameel, 1(tied) Synonymous, 3 D-Lightfull 4 Poetic Speed 5 (tied) Ian Keteku 5 (tied) Hodan Ibrahim 7 Sean O’Gorman 8 Hyfidelik


And that wasn’t even the whole weekend!

Sunday was the Spoken Word Plot in Almonte where the Kymeras featured in honour of Mississippi Mille Bike Month!

That was fun… but I think I am completely worn out! Time for a rest…

Except Tuesday is Voices of Venus featuring Amal al-Mohtar and Thursday is Bill Brown featuring Danielle Gregoire and… ME!

Then there is the Fringe and the debut of the Copper Conundrum. Then there is the Toronto Poetry Slam (which we will be driving in T.O. in the middle of that G34 conference, or whatever it is called). Then Capital Slam on July 3rd!


  1. Ritallin says:

    You are busy. Wow! I’m jealous of your busy-ness! No, not really. πŸ™‚

  2. Bammarang says:

    great review!
    thanks Rusty.

  3. Hey Rusty — awesome account of Capital Slam finals. Unfortunately, the way in which you listed your predictions for the team is super misleading. I had people come up to me in the last couple days thinking that Truth Is made the team because they saw it on your blog. Ouch! Maybe you could list the actual team at the top of the page (and highlight names there) to avoid any further confusion.

    See you tonight at Bill Brown! I’ll be there with video cameras on.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s