Monday, October 26, 2009

CFSW Speaks Out: Steve Thompson

The Canadian Festival of Spoken Word is two weeks away and Victoria is getting ready to host a mind-blowing week of spoken word, art, and inspiration.

But what is exactly IS CFSW 09? We sat down with festival director and former Victoria Slam Team member Steven J. Thompson to get the low-down.

CFSW 09: Ok, seriously - what's the difference between spoken word and poetry?
ST: Well for starters, Spoken Word can be much more than just a poem. Spoken Word can also be story telling, monologue and some people even consider some forms of stand-up comedy to be part of the genre.

However in comparing spoken word poetry to say traditional poetry; I'd say that the idea of spoken word is to find the best way to orally connect with the audience. Sometimes that can incorporate oral sounds and emphasis on cadence. Generally the voice plays a greater role.

CFSW: This is the 6th year of the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. Can you explain exactly what happens at the festival?
ST: It varies from year to year. Each city puts their own spin on the production. However it has always been anchored by the National Slam competition.

This year there are twelve teams competing from cities across Canada. If you're going to get in to spoken word, that would be a good place to start. Furthermore, this year we have a ton of day events from open mics to showcases featuring Aboriginal performers, Female performers, Pan African performers and Queer/Transgender performers.

CFSW: You've said that this year's CFSW is West Coast vibe - what do you mean by that?
ST: We have performers coming from all across the country. Some have never even been to Victoria before. So we want to show them some of what the west coast is all about. For example one of the morning events that we are doing is called 'Yoga Poetry'. To me, that just screams west coast.

Also, whether it's deserved or not, the west coast has a reputation for being a bit more socially and environmentally conscious. This year we are setting new presidents with the festival by doing little things from not selling bottled water, to making ethical choices in terms of sponsorship.

CFSW: You've really beefed up activities and shows at the festival - what kinds of things are you doing at this year's festival that have never been done before?
ST: Again, I believe that we're setting many new presidents for the festival. For starters we have a slew of late evening events from the erotica show, to a poetry decathlon and finally a late night cabaret featuring spoken word/musical fusion group 'The Fugitives'. As far as I know the late night events have never been done before.

We also have a number of what we are calling 'value added' surprises. Without giving away the surprises let's just say that when your mind isn't being blown by what's on stage, it'll be blown by what's happening around you.

CFSW: You've been to CFSW twice as a competitor. Any advice for this year's teams?
ST: At the risk of giving the cliched athlete answers; Like any competition, play hard, but don't take it too seriously. The old slam adage is "The points are not the point, the point is poetry." And when you step up to that microphone...bring it!

CFSW: Finally, the Dating Game question: If this year's festival was a flavour of ice cream, what flavour would it be?
ST: What does adrenaline taste like?

To find out more about CFSW 09 and to view the full schedule visit

Tickets on sale at the Solstice Cafe and Lyle's Place.

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