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.