Sarah Musa (left) and Radiyah Chowdhury performing at Poets and Pancakes. Photo: Allegra Morgado.
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Local spoken word series hosts new show at Flapjack’s Pancake Shack

When people think of spoken word poetry, often the most appropriate setting that comes to mind is a bar or a café. Somewhere dimly lit fits well with the type of performance—a cozy space where people can feel free to share their emotions with peers through the art of poetry.

A breakfast restaurant, namely Flapjack’s Pancake Shack, is probably one of the last places where one would imagine a spoken word poetry event would take place. Urban Legends Poetry, however, believes that Flapjack’s is the perfect place for poetry performances, which is why they have begun a new series at Flapjack’s on Preston Street called “Poets and Pancakes”.

“Pancakes are delicious, alliteration is great—so Poets and Pancakes has a great name to it—and one thing that we’re really pushing, and it started with Urban Legends at its inception, is we wanted to try and bring poetry out of a bar setting,” says Panos Argyropoulos, University of Ottawa M.Sc. alumni and co-director of Urban Legends.

Argyropoulos, who has been a co-director since May 2015, says that Urban Legends is attempting to revitalize themselves this year after their 2014-15 smaller season. This means U of O students can look forward to a variety of events outside of their flagship slam competitions.   

“We found this to be a perfect opportunity to… showcase poets that aren’t necessarily competitors or don’t want to be in the competitive stream,” says Argyropoulos.

The second edition of Poets and Pancakes took place on April 7 and featured four female poets. The four poets performed poems focusing on everything from writer’s block to the Black Lives Matter movement.

For Radiyah Chowdhury, the third performer of the night, the event had a special significance. Chowdhury is finishing up her undergraduate degree in journalism at Carleton University this month and moving back to Toronto, finishing her time in Ottawa. She shared many emotional poems during the set, including one about her difficulty as a journalist separating herself from the stories she writes, especially those concerning sensitive topics.

Argyropoulos believes that speaking about sensitive subjects and being vulnerable is an inherent part of spoken word poetry, and because of this it lends itself to having a strong and supportive community.

“You have to create a community to be able to actually address or to feel comfortable enough to do spoken word,” says Argyropoulos.

Close communities can be difficult to find your place in, and getting up to share your feelings in front of an audience is never easy, but Urban Legends is working to include more people in the community the way that they know best—through sharing their love of poetry in writing circles.

“That’s one of the things we’re trying to do to kind of build writers up,” says Argyropoulos.

Urban Legends Poetry is having their next writing circle on April 17, and hoping to have their next Poets and Pancakes event near the end of May. After the success of the first two shows, Argyropoulos is optimistic about their future events at Flapjack’s.

“You can’t really go wrong with pancakes. Pancakes and words, they go together.”

For more information about Urban Legends Poetry and their upcoming events, visit their Facebook page here.   

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