Posts Tagged ‘Lanark County’

Slamming Weekend

Posted: January 23, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

This weekend started off badly as Thursday night I found myself both dead tired and unable to sleep. I have been having problems with unfocused stress lately and it has be taking it out on my sleep patterns somewhat (among other things).

I ended up staying home from work. As it is I only got aobut 3-4 hours of sleep.

Early Friday afternoon Brad Morden contacted me and asked if I was going out to Perth that night for the Lanark Slam that evening. I wasn’t but Johnny MacRae was in town and he could use a lift. We decided that we would make a trip of it with Ruthanne and Brad also coming.

The LiPS slam out in Lanark County is always fun. It is a VERY different feel from the slams in town. Brad nad I both decided to slam! (Ottawa poets are welcome to slam in Lanark but our scores do not count towards their season to ensure a Lanark County Team rather than an Ottawa offshoot team. Good idea, in my opinion. I think more communities should do that…)

The judging that night was… different than what I am used to. All five judges were new to slam (I later learned) and they didn’t seem to really like ‘slam-style’ pieces… except when they did. It was postulated that they seemed to like things with a very clear and direct message.

I did my new piece ‘Four-Colour World’ and did fairly poorly. Brad also did much less than expected.

In the second round I did a toned-down version of FN and that went over a lot better. I ended up in second, I believe.

On Saturday it was Capital Slam, and I slammed, as planned, doing those same two pieces.

I drew the bullet and had to slam first. That is not a good spot and when I did ‘Four-Colour World’ I got a good reaction from the crowd but less love from the judges. I thought it was even worse because the score was initially misreported as 25.2 (instead of 26.2) and I didn’t notice the change. I was followed by a fairly new poet and four BRAND new pots who all (I thought) outscored me. By the end I thought I was in 11th. Turns out I was in 6th.

One of those new poets DID outscore me but she (Zorah Bryant) had to leave at the break so she was dropped from the second round, sliding me in. Now there was a gap to large to make up, but I was just happy to get to do my second piece. FN went over a LOT better, and I closed the gap quite a bit… but still ended in 5th. That’s all good.

I am now tied in 5th in the seson rankings with Colleen Leafloor and Mia Morgan (who won on Saturday). The top 4 are Loh El, Just Jamaal, ArRay-of-WoRds and V.

Next up is the Ottawa Women’s Slam Championship on Saturday… but first I need to try to get through this week without feeling like a zombie.

Calm blue ocean. Calm blue ocean.

Rick Kwissa

Posted: April 1, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

This Monday, April 4th, the LiPS Slam in Carleton Place is featuring Rick Kwissa.

That would be this Rick Kwissa, aka Emily’s grandfather.


This is going to be amazing.

Anyone who can make it to Carleton Place needs to go to this.

CONTEXT: October, 2010

Sometimes poems just come to you.

This one came from an odd source. I was reading an on-line forum where somebody starting talking about the difference between the mind and the brain. They were using love as an example. Another person came in and started explaining how love was a chemical reaction in the brain. They made a statement that isn’t EXACTLY the opening for the poem, but it is pretty close.

The poem starting falling into place almost immediately.

Amusing side note. I was featuring with Kevin Matthews out in Carleton Place at a LiPS Slam. As is my habit when I perform out there, I gave this poem a trial run. (I have probably debuted more poems out there than anywhere… short of Capital Slam.)

As I got to those early lines in the piece, Emily Kwissa and her friends started laughing. Apparently they had just had an exam in school on that exact thing. πŸ™‚

    Chemical Love

I recently heard that
There is a scientific basis
For love.
As people fall in love
The brain releases a certain set of chemicals
Including pheremones, dopamine,
Norepenephrine and seretonin,
Which act in a manner similar to
Amphetemines, stimulating the
Brain’s pleasure center and
Leading to side effects such as
Increased heart rate,
Loss of appetite and sleep,
And an intense feeling of excitement.
So now I can honestly say,
Baby, you are my drug.
You started as just a taste –
First smile is free
But after that it’s gonna cost ya.
Sliding into my veins
On an hallucinagenic
Power slide.
Footing is treacherous
When you can’t even find
Your feet because
You’ve been knocked heels
Over head.
Lay it out in little lines
As we pretend love is orderly
Then blast my brain with
A near fatal dose
Directly to the cerebral
Hollowing out my Common Sense
Until I find myself humming
For no reason.
The effect multiplies with
Repeated doses leaving a
Product of less environment
And more desironment
As the language can’t contain my
Like any dealer of
Deadly substances
You ask for payment once
The hook sinks its oh-so-soft
Barbs into my fleshy parts –
The price is my heart
And I turn it over
Without hesitation
Because, let’s face it,
I’m addicted to you.

You inject into me
And I inject into you
As I triple up this entendre
And we disprove the
Impenetrability Principle
As two bodies
Occupy the same space
At the same time.

You have me tripping
The light fandango
As my heart turns
Cartwheels across the floor
Yelling out ‘Look at me!
Look at me!’
Like a five year old
Desperate for attention.

When we are apart
I go through withdrawl.
I get the shakes and
The bakes while
The fakes say
‘What’s up with him?’
But I know I’m jonesing
So bad that only
Another hit of that what
Makes me feel good will do.

I freebase you because
With you as my base
I feel free.
We love hard until
I realize we have made
Out of every day.
You don’t stimulate only my
Brain’s pleasure center
But all of my brain
As you layer a knowledge-high
Over the sizzle from
Eyes to thighs
And… oh my.
I think I need a glass of water
Before I overheat
Or overdose.
I throw precautions to
The wind
Mixing you with gin
Because you are all the tonic
I need.
I’m hooked on phonics
Because all the words start
With U.
The mathematics of fanatics
As all equations have
You adding to me and
Solving for X
Where X equals infinity
Because our love knows
No limits.
You blow my mind, baby
Because you are my drug
And I can’t wait
For another dose
Of you.


Next… is likely a poem I just wrote today. πŸ™‚

Oh, if you see this in time, don’t forget that Once Upon A Slam is tonight! Mercury Lounge! 7pm!


Posted: July 19, 2010 in Poetry, Slam, Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Saturday was the Lanark County Slam Finals. I was invited to host again (and I performed the poem included below)!

The Lanark scene is really shaping up with talent presented, but there was also only one poet (I think) who hadn’t appeared in their finals before. Getting new people is tough but neccesary. I hope they can do it because the scene is strong and the poets and the community deserve it. πŸ™‚

In the end, one of the best poets they have (in my opinion) was knocked out of the running due to time penalties when she stumbled over her poem, which is a shame.

The team is still top notch, though! The Lanark Champ is Emily Kwissa, who has been on the team all three years, but this is her first as champ. (An interesting note, two years ago in Calgary, Emily broke the record for the youngest poet on the CFSW stage, beating Ottawa’s DJ Morales. This year, Lanark could have broken it again if Satinka Schilling had made the team. She came very close but lost in a ‘slam-off’ for the alt spot.)
Second was Sarah Bingham. Last year Sarah had time problems, which kept her off the team. This year she got that in order, kept under three minutes both rounds, and kept her spot!
Third was Inez Dekker. Inez has been a part of the scene from the start but this is her first time on the team. (interesting note #2 – remember I mentioned that Lanark had the youngest performer ever on the CFSW stage? I BELIEVE that with Inez they will now have the oldest as well. – Oh, I asked Inez’ permission before I said that…) I am not 100% sure because I haven’t been to every festival, though. I’m going to try to find out because that sure says a lot about Lanark County! Everybody says they are inclusive but to have the youngest AND oldest is pretty impressive.
Fourth was Ken Kicksee. He was on the team last year as well. He was the only male competing this year as Lanark continues to have the opposite problem that CapSlam was having.
The alternate is Britt Faraday for the second year in a row. As I said above, she was actually tied with Satinka but won in the slam-off.

Good show. Fun times. Too bad about Danielle because we all know she has the ability to be on the team, but it just wasn’t her night. I’ve certainly known that feeling of panic when suddenly the words vanish from your brain.

At Danielle’s request, I performed a piece that I had only done as part of the Copper Conundrum… and happens to be the next poem for this blog.

CONTEXT: June, 2010

First off, it is a true story and I am going to out the person I refer to in the poem: Gilles Labelle. Gilles is a good guy, but he seems to have a blind spot when it comes to spoken word. He has never been to a show but still thinks he knows all about it. πŸ™‚ I have played him a few tracks by notables like Steve Sauve and John Akpata. He was unimpressed. He even said that John Akpata had no rhythm.

John Akpata.

Clearly Gilles is an idiot.


Seriously though, he IS my friend. We just differ on this point. He once told me that poets just spit out angst, angst, angst. I told him that I don’t. When I started writing this poem (it started being about the image of turning the wheel across the center line while driving), I remembered that I said I didn’t write angst, and that would certainly fall into that category. Then I started to think, “if you can’t write ‘angst’, what do you do if things really ARE bad and your head IS in a dark place?”

That led to this poem.

So, thanks Gilles!

(Oh, the Unhappy Angst-Men joke is old. Back in the early 80s my friend Shawn Kilpatrick was telling me about the Uncanny X-Men comic and he told me that it was angst-filled. I dropped the Unhappy Angst-Men line… and I never forgot it.)

So, thanks Shawn!


I told a friend that
I perform poetry.
He said that poets just
Spew angst,
Overgrown emo kids
Ranting about all the
Perceived failings in
Their lives.
I told him that he was right and
That we have banded together
To form a new super-hero team:
The Unhappy Angst-Men!
We fight crime but
We don’t feel good about it.

No angst for me, I said.
I write about art and music
And books and love
And suicide and child abuse
Because sometimes writing happy
Is a lie.
Sometimes putting on a brave
Face with your mouth pulled up
In a rictus-grin
Only serves to deepen the
Pits as shovelfulls of dirt
Are dumped on your face as you
Close your eyes and wait for
It to be over.

Is that angst?
But is the world better served
By a Tom Sawyer
Whitewash over the screaming
News headline graffitti that
Reminds us that just because
She was smiling doesn’t mean
June Cleaver was happy?
As the world tightens
A rubber tube tourniquet
Around its forearm
We remember
That there is no difference
Between track-marks
And highways
When the end of the line
Doesn’t hold salvation.

We lump the kid with the
Hollow realization of
Mediocrity in with
Those who see rebellion as
A fashion statement
And think that a $40
Haircut can make them
Seem more ‘street’ –
Putting tears in
A new pair of jeans so they
Can fit in with those
Who would trade any amount
Of ‘street’ for a new
Pair of jeans…
Or a bite to eat…
Not that they would admit it,

Because neediness equals
Vulnerability equals
Depression is some sort
Of personality fault,
But try telling that to
The kid who wonders how
Many pills it would take
Or the woman who sees the
Center line as the perfect
Spot to turn the wheel
And face the headlights
Of the on-coming truck.

If it is wrong to let the
Darkness out…
Stopping it from gnawing at
Your insides until you
Are as hollow as you feel…
Then how do you fight the
Because sometimes the
World just fucking sucks and
The opposite of depression
Isn’t joy.
It is indifference,
Because caring cuts both ways.

So give the emo kids their
Stupid haircuts and whiny music
If that’s what gets them
Through the day,
And if you are having trouble
Holding on, tell me!
I will listen.
Because detachment
Doesn’t make you cool,
Stoicism doesn’t equal strength
And suffering in solitude
Is never nobler
Than healing together.
So to my friend that thinks
All poets spew angst
I’ll wear that mantle with
Pride because what you call
Angst I call giving a shit
And I’ll defend that
Until the day I die.


Next up is, uh… nothing yet. I have cleaned out my notebook. Until I write something new…

I really want to write a poem about the police. Maybe that will be next.