Toronto-based Peter Norman has won Harbourfront's Poetry NOW contest and a spot at next October's International Festival of Authors.
The author topped the list of 19 authors who read at the slam, also known as the Battle of The Bards, which took place at a jammed Brigantine Room last night.
Though the writers were supposed to be judged for best "interpretation," my take as host for the evening is that judges Geoffrey Taylor, Director of Authors at Harbourfront, Artistic Associate Jen Tindall and Toronto poet laureate George Elliot Clarke, were not bowled over by performance alone. If the quality of the reading were the only criterion, the award would have gone to either the passionate Jim White or Amanda Jernigan - who was intensity personified.
Worthy winner Norman read from his sometimes humourous, sometimes disturbing collection Water Damage with a low-key, wry style, perfect for the material. Runners up - who also get spots at IFOA - are Beatriz Hausner, who gave a compelling reading from Enter The Raccoon, her poems about the erotic potential of a human-sized raccoon, Matthew Henderson, whose poems from the collection Lease are about his experience working on an oil rig, the very amusing Warren Clements and Christine McNair, who gave a pristine rendering of poems from Conflict, which feature extremely complicated wordplay.
As usual for the event - now in its fifth year - the crowd was wildly enthusiastic. There are few audiences more loyal than poetry fans.