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Capital Slam off to a solid start this season

HER WORDS CAME fast and abruptly. She didn’t stumble or stutter through the performance and kept the audience wide eyed and at attention. The subject matter: Ironing. Laundry may seem like an unlikely topic for a riveting poem, but slam poet Megan Ward made it work this past Saturday night at the Mercury Lounge.

“[Poetry] is just something that I do,” she says.  “It’s the way that I process my life and it’s the way that I interpret the world around me. When big things in my life happen, I write … When little things happen, I write. It’s turned into a career that I love.”

Hailing from Victoria, B.C., Ward has been part of the Victoria slam scene for the past three years and recently took home the title of the 2011 Victoria Slam Champion. Although she is an established member of the slam poetry community, her start in slamming was unintentional.

“I was writing a lot of poetry since I was a kid. My grandma gave me a journal [when] I was eight and I started writing right away,” says Ward. “I never performed until my friend brought me to a spoken word open mike, but the people there started telling me that I should slam and so I started slamming right away. That first year I got on a team and I grew a lot through that experience.”

Mercury Lounge is home to Capital Slam, a poetry series that showcases local and national poets every other Saturday. This past Saturday was the second poetry showcase for the 2011–12 season. Anyone is welcome to perform.

“Everyone has something to say, even if they bottle it up and keep it behind locked doors,” says Rusty Priske, Capital Poetry Collective director and local poet. “We give them the pulpit and the audience. Poetry is the outlet, spoken word is the voice, and slam is the excitement that draws the crowd. The audience is part of the art and together we create a feedback loop of art and inspiration. Falling back on my own philosophy—if not for art, why exist?”

Capital Slam sends its top five poets to the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word each fall, a competition the team has won the past two years. According to Priske, poetry brings people together and offers an outlet for people to express themselves.

“Poetry is important to the community because poetry is important to people. The ability to find a voice and share everything that is rattling around in your head is amazing,” he says.

Catch Capital Slam on Oct. 2 for the next show, and every other Saturday after, at the Mercury Lounge (56 Byward Market Sq.). Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $7.

—Sofia Hashi