Victoria’s fourth annual Spoken Word Festival gathered the fun March 4–9. The six days of poetic festivities brought hundreds of poets from across North America and Victorians together for a series of rousing, rhyming, events. Having sold out last year at the Intrepid Theatre Club, the festival moved to its largest venue to date, performing at the Metro Studio Theatre on Quadra.
Following this year’s theme of “inside story,” events ranged from story time for adults to public workshops, and even to the combination of puppets and poets. Barbara Adler headlined the festival’s finale event; the punk accordion poet was deemed Poet of Honour this year.
While I only had the time to enjoy the March 6 show called “Poeteers!,” it turned out to be a spectacular event. The performance combined the efforts of master puppeteer Tim Gosley with that of several poets from the festival, to create an evening of pure magic. Some puppets and poems had only been completed earlier that day, while other pieces were well polished. The Two Dope Boys, Johnny MacRae and shayne avec i grec, for instance, are a duo who has been working together for some time. Originating from B.C.’s fabled Cadillac Mountains, the two travel across North America sharing the art of their combined skills; poetry and folk water-bowling.
For those who may not know, water-bowling is a delicate undertaking that entails a sort of beatboxing while your face is submerged in a shallow bowl of water. The result is a messy stage and a fantastic piece of performance art.
The evening concluded with a performance by Gosley, who used shadows, light, and a series of wire puppets and coloured glass to present a short and magical play on projection screen. Gosley performed a version of the Blind Men and an Elephant story. By bending his flashlight around the small platform set in front of him and moving his wire puppets around by hand, Gosley made shadows dance and come alive. Despite an audience that is used to heckling and finger-snapping at performances, the room sat silent during Gosley’s piece, viewers to a master at his craft.
For those looking to fulfil more of their slam-poetry fix, Slam Nights are held at Solstice Café (529 Pandora Ave.) on the third Thursday of every month. It’s a casual yet interactive environment, where you can enjoy an evening of literary fun. Also, don’t miss next year’s Spoken Word Festival, as it’s guaranteed to be bigger and better than ever.