By Tova Friedman
After a hard-fought battle between the two schools of downtown Toronto, Ryerson defeated University of Toronto (UoftT) in a poetry slam on Tuesday night.
The evening began with a casual open mic session which was followed by a slam battle between the two teams of five. Each participant wrote and presented pieces mostly based on personal life experiences. The emotional night sparked a positive vibe in the crowd, as they were constantly cheering and snapping their fingers for the performers.
There were five judges who scored each poet out of 10 based on their performance.
“There is no other environment like the one in a slam for the element of creativity in combination with community interaction,” said Cassandra Myers, one of the organizers of the event and a poet from the Ryerson team and a member of Ryerson’s Poetic Exchange.
Twoey Gray was the primary organizer of the slam and also a member of Poetic Exchange. After getting involved with the spoken word scene at Ryerson in her first year, she fell involve with the craft and joined the Bam Youth Slam team in Toronto.
“It was a really enriching experience and I learned a lot,” said Gray.
It was a close competition for the majority of the slam since the feedback from the judges was mainly positive overall. Jacob Agustin, a poet from Ryerson, had the highest amount of points in the competition with nearly perfect scores throughout the night. He said that writing poetry was an important part of his life growing up and something he still loves to do.
“Poetry was a creative outlet that I needed,” he said. “I [had] been going down a dark path as a kid so poetry was really there for me when I needed to express myself in a more positive manner.”
According to the head of UofT’s team, Kayla Buium, preparing for the competition was an enjoyable experience for her because of this reason.
“I prepared for this by doing regular poetry writing like I always do,” she said. “I do this either on the subway or in class. Later on, I compose it at home and put it all together.”
Gray is aiming to make poetry in Canada more well-known through this event She said this competition was a fundraising event to help raise money for Ryerson’s team to compete in a larger slam in Austin, Texas, the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI).
“We also had a number of other events like that all throughout the year, leading up to this one,” she said.
Maria Toquero, one of the poets from the Ryerson CUPSI team, said she learns a lot about herself as a writer through these fundraisers, along with larger competitions.
“I love to challenge myself as a writer to step outside the box with my poetry,” she said. “Slams are a great way for me to break out of my comfort zone.”