TORONTO POETRY SLAM Everything from a cappella hiphop to theatrical monologues will be shouted from the stage at the monthly TPS. Featured guest is the comedy troupe Knock Knock. (Who's There?) Comedy! Saturday (August 11). Sign up at 7:30 pm, slam 8 pm, at the Drake Hotel Underground, 1150 Queen West. $5. www.torontopoetryslam.com. Rating: NNNNN
WHAT IS THE TPS? People think poetry has to be in a certain form, like what they had to read in Grade 11. But this is so different. It's hiphop without the beats, song without the music, it's theatrical monologues, dub poetry, rants, whatever you like. It's like comedy - it's you and a microphone. No props, no covers, nothing.
HOW DOES THE COMPETITION WORK? There are fives judges who award up to 10 points, half based on the content and half on the performance. So you could have a really powerful verse, but if you read it using a boring or monotonous tone, then you probably won't do as well as someone with a weaker verse who knows how to perform it, to connect with the audience and convey emotion.
WHO PARTICIPATES? The beautiful thing is the democracy of verse. Anyone can go onstage and anyone can win, unlike at Canadian Idol. Anybody who has something to say. You just put your name in the hat before the show. We pick 12 people for the first round and that gets cut to six for the second and then down to three who battle it out in the final for the grand prize of $75. Poets gotta eat.
WHAT KIND OF VERSE IS MOST COMMON? There are poets known for their rants against the government or political systems or ideologies, and on the flip side there are poets whose subjects are family life, sometimes in a bittersweet way. And whoever is the most honest, not always the best poet, scores highest with the judges.
WILL YOU BE COMPETING? While I do compete and I am part of the poetry group Last Call Poets - I'm known as the haiku master; I have an ode to Charles Bukowski and an ode to eggnog, for some idea of the range - I'm just the host at this poetry slam.
Audio Clip from David Silverberg