Setting the Record Straight on Competing for Up From the Roots

Next month Up From the Roots (UFTR), one of the two teams which represent Toronto at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word (CFSW), will be holding its team qualifying SLAM. Being a proud member of this team last year I am curious to see what the outcome will be. I am especially curious as I have been following the rankings this year and notice that besides Dwayne Morgan (can someone please knock this guy off the team already lol), the top ranking poets are all youth of color, with at least one female poised to be on the team again. I look forward to following the outcome and then the performance of the UFTR team at the CFSW which takes place in Winnipeg this October.

Besides their performance, I am more curious to see what kind of reception this team will get at CFSW after last year’s team experienced what was in my opinion a rather hostile send off. After spending a week in Saskatoon last year, for the most part silently observing the way in which this team was targeted, our poems nitpicked for signs of misogyny (and attacked with made up lines when folks conveniently wanted to strengthen their case against my team mates) and the most traumatic finals stage I have ever experienced, my only hope is that the lessons learned from last year’s festival were heavily taken into consideration as the CFSW aims to create a safer space for EVERYONE at this year’s festival.

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Find Me in February (Performances)

February is one of my favorite months of the year. Besides being my kids birthdays (blessings on blessings) it is also a month where my poetry focuses on two of my favorite themes Black History & Love. Interested in hearing what I have to say about either this month? Check out some of the cool spots I will be performing at in February.
*Click the flyers to get more info

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Generation Z

On January 15th 2016 I had the pleasure of facilitating a workshop for Just B Graphic’s Life Series Conference which focused on the works of Sister Souljah, particularly around her book the Coldest Winter Ever.

My workshop for this class was centered around the idea of narrative that the new generation, or Generation Z as it was labeled, was a “lost” generation. I certainly don’t believe that, but wanted to spark some fire within my students so I wrote a poem that was mostly based on all the assumptions, complaints, body policing, respectability politicking that I have experienced through working with adults that work with young people, the media, general conversations, etc.

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How to be Funny While Fighting the Power with Comedian Mark James Heath

On Saturday August 30th, 2015, my fiancee and I embarked on what was an extremely overdue date night (that’s how life works when you have kids). I was invited to a comedy show at Yuk Yuks, and not wanting to do the same old dinner and a movie bit I decided to go. Now, I am a lover of comedy more than any other genre; whether it is in theater, movies or TV I just generally prefer to laugh rather than cry. However, I am also a very politically conscious person and therefore know that comedy, particularly stand up, can be very offensive, oppressive and insensitive to many demographics of people. As the show began that Saturday night the anti-oppressive trained, respectful of all people, part of me was struggling to hold back.

Most of the comics had many funny jokes however they got lost amid some of the more over-the -top, crude jokes that just left me feeling bad for even indulging. At some points I wasn’t even laughing. I thought perhaps that my days of watching stand up comedians would soon be over as I just couldn’t enjoy it in the same way anymore, being so politically conscious and everything. Finally the headlining act came out; his name was Mark James Heath.

In a 40 minute set Mark restored my ability to enjoy live comedy. His set was well thought out, had a nice flow,  really funny but most importantly touched on social issues through a comedic lens that had me thinking as much as it had me laughing. From discussions on the stereotypes black men face regarding raising children to calling out the Canadian genocide of Indigenous people, Mark was able to really bring up the issues without bringing down the mood of the audience. Even more impressive was his ability to keep the whole room engaged without having to be too loud, over the top or theatrical like the comedians who preceded him. Mark’s comedy can easily be compared to the type of popular, critical humor that we have come to see in comedian like Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah and Jaime Oliver; and in a room where some people thought it was entertaining to make jokes about disabled people, Mark James Heath was  definitely a breath of fresh air.
For more info on Mark check him out on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/mjhcomedy
Paulina

Hyenas

I remember a time when they looked at me like nothing but a piece of meat

My long legs gracefully walked through the hallways like a gazelle

Where at every locker hyenas would lurk

I say hyenas,

Because had they been lions they would have approached me with a noble dignity and respect

But these, these were hyenas

Scavengers feeding on any carcass they could sink their teeth into and laugh amongst themselves about the chase and the takedown later

I could smell them on the hunt

Covered in the jungled scents of Polo Cologne and far too much Axe

They never asked you for anything

They demanded

And I remembered how I feared ever saying no like that word was not part

Of their language so they never understood you

Even if you tried to use it

 

I saw the way they looked at me

With hunger in their eyes like they were starving

But I knew they never were

Because at that highschool their was an abundance of carcasses to feast on

They would circle the ones whose self esteem was dying the fastest

Like vultures waiting for the final breaths of hope to die out

 

I remember they way they touched me

Handled me roughly

Used me until my soul became empty

No reflection in the mirror left, that little girl died a long time ago

Realized my innocence had been stolen long before the first time

When I didn’t even bleed because another animal had already gutted

Me claws that should have never entered in the first place

 

And I still seem them as I walk down the hallways, streets, alleys

Anywhere in public where my body is considered up for public consumption

Rape culture runs even more rampant

Laughing, jeering, in search of new prey to hunt, victimize and then blame

Fresh carcasses of lost little girls dying for attention

Thinking how they want so badly to be hunted

Not understanding the consequences of when they are finally caught

 

I know they never saw me as more than a piece of meat but I wondered if they had forgotten that I was a human being

That they were human beings

That this isn’t the jungle

And that we are made to be more than savages vying for a fresh pound of flesh

 

Don’t Call Me Superwoman

Lately I’ve been thinking

I can’t save you with my super powers

I am only human so don’t call me superwoman

 

Don’t call me superwoman

Not because I don’t balance the world on my two shoulders

Not strong enough in the eyes of men to make political decisions

But strong enough to carry the political fallout of consequences on my back

As they attack me with ads that constantly tell me that I am not good enough

Not good enough physically, as if I don’t have enough strength to qualify

Even though last time I checked I never seen a man conceive, carry and birth life, with no hands

Hands Up because we too busy using them to hold up picket signs

Screaming don’t shoot our babies in cold blood

 

No

 

Don’t call me superwoman

Because I don’t like the pressure that comes with the cape

It wraps around my neck a bit too tightly

And I am afraid

Afraid that every time I put it on it might be my last time

As I cry myself in the corners of closets just for a moment to be out of this world

Away from the pressures of being super and just for a moment BE a woman,

A living breathing human being who despite what Instagram portrays sometimes can’t handle it all

 

Please

 

Don’t call me superwoman

Because that word alone will be the justification

To further persuade some that I am not in need of help

That I am miss INDEPENDENT

And I can do bad all by myself

Or I can do good

But whatever I can do, that I can do it alone

As if I am not a living creature in need of stepping on the scales in hopes that for me, one day they will balance out

One day before I burn out

From churning out pieces of me constantly

Never saying No because I couldn’t face the consequences of potential disappointment

My herstory has been clear that I come from a line of strong black women

All I can say is that I, I don’t want to suffer from their syndrome

Crash and burn until there is nothing left

But I cannot imagine that is what they would have wanted for me

And I cannot hold my breath while I wait for men to march for me like I march for them

Give up their careers for me so I can pursue my dreams and still have hopes of a family before 40 without freezing my eggs out of worry,

Hold my breath that they will support me instead of sending me to Jesus to just pray on it, tell me I will make it but won’t dare step forward to help me unload my cross for 2 seconds while I catch myself before I slip

 

Please

Do not Call me Superwoman

Because it comes with just too much pressure

And I am already on the brink of exploding

Like a dormant volcano waiting to erupt

Ready to overflow generations of anguish and tears silently carried in

The crevices of my public bones,

My lower back

Or my hands that are cracked from

Being overworked and not held enough

I have come to the conclusion that I have had enough

That the days of being put on a pedestal for being able to do it all and keep it together are not glorious anymore

And for the sake of self care and self love I have chosen to come down

Before I burn after the final crash,

Before there is nothing left but ash

Before there is nothing left then an early grave stone that reads

Overly Devoted Wife

Mother

And Superwoman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REP YOUR SET POETRY SLAM with FEATURE POET MAHLIKAH AWE:RI

Words by the Water is back in April with the

Rep Your Set Poetry SLAM and Open Mic

TUESDAY APRIL 7th

Sign up at 6pm – SLAM starts at 7:00pm

LAMP CHC – Street Level

185 Fifth Street – 3rd floor Community Room

Food and TTC tokens provided

Vibes provided by DJ Flex of all Trades

For more information contact Paulina – wordsbythewater@gmail.com or 647 227 6614

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I AM EVERY WOMAN: A Poetic Celebration of Women Warriors

Join us for a night of poetry completely dedicated to uplifting women in whatever role(s) they find themselves playing.

Guerrilla of the Word Presents

I AM EVERY WOMAN: A Poetic Celebration of Women Warriors
Thursday March 12th, 2015
Doors open at 9pm
Show starts at 10pm
Placebo Space – 2877 Lakeshore Blvd W
$5 Cover – All proceeds go to supporting the Words by the Water Collective

For more info contact Paulina

guerrillaoftheword@gmail.com or 647 227 6614

POETRY EVENTS IN THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY

FEBRUARY is the month for love, Black History and most importantly open miss. Check out the list below for events happening all over the city in the month of February.

Download the full Calendar here –> FEBRUARYPOETRYEVENTS

WORDS BY THE WATER’s REP YOUR SET POETRY SLAM with FEATURE POET David Delisca
Tuesday February 3rd, 2015
6pm
LAMP Community Health Center (community room 3rd floor)
185 Fifth Street
FREE
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