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Spoken Word Festival Brings Poetry Into the Mainstream

Digital Journal — In the arts and entertainment industry, there are the Big Four modes of expression: film, music, visual art and literature. But there’s another art form nudging into the mainstream, which is enjoying a four-day festival in Toronto this week.

The 2006 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word celebrates the energetic culture of spoken word, described as both performance poetry and acapella hip-hop. From Oct. 11 and 14, Toronto will play host to nightly poetry slams, daily workshops and showcases, and a special guerilla reading on downtown streets. The fest’s venues include Trane Studio, Victory Café and the St. Lawrence Centre of the Arts.

As it’s done every year, cities from across Canada held qualifying poetry slams to select teams that will represent their neighbourhood in the three-night slam championship during the CFSW. Four poets from each of these following cities — Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver — will hit the stage in a spoken word competition.

“The Canadian Festival of Spoken Word is unlike any arts festival in Canada, and it’s a perfect fit for Toronto’s cultural scene,” says Dwayne Morgan, producer of the 2006 CFSW, and founder of Up From the Roots Entertainment.

The CFSW began in 2003, when prominent promoters of the spoken word community got together and decided that there needed to be an event that showcased the wealth of talent that exists across the country. The first festival took place in Ottawa in 2004, followed by Vancouver in 2005.

The festival seeks to build the reputation of the spoken art form beyond the coffeehouse and niche clubs where it has so far been nurtured. The mainstream arts community still has yet to appreciate spoken word in the same manner that indie rock and film have been embraced, but the CFSW is a step in the right direction.

Fore more info about tickets, times and workshop events, go to www.cfsw.net.

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