By: Leah Cross
The ambiance was dim, but the energy from the audience lit up The Observatory on Feb. 26 in anticipation for a night of finger-snapping entertainment from slam poet competitors.
The night began with host Just Jamaal revving up the crowd with one of his own poems to give guests a taste of what would be in store.
Eight poets braced the stage with unique performances covering topics ranging from erotic love-making, world issues, different types of douche bags, and the top 10 ways to get over your ex. Also on stage was a special feature from well-known slammer PrufRock.
All poets brought something different to the stage, but if there’s one thing all performances had in common, it was that the audience could almost see the passion flowing out of each poet like lava flows from an erupting volcano.
The competition held a $300 cash prize for the poet with the most votes from the audience. Nathan Walker was among those who attended to show his support for ArRay of Words.
“Ray and I go way back. I met his older brother before I met Ray, actually. I’ve known his family since I was about nine,” Walker said. “First time I met Ray, he was free-styling on a bus with a guitar, so he’s been at it for a while.”
Off-stage, ArRay of Words is Ray Guillermo, health sciences student at Algonquin.
“I like to show that I have a live vocabulary, you know, like in a ray of words,” says Guillermo on how he came up with his stage name.
It was Carleton University psychology student Peter Treboutat’s first time at a slam poetry event.
“I voted for A Human With Experience, I really liked how he put everyone down who is pursuing an typical education, but he’s kinda like, you’re better than that, you can rise above that and pursue the American Dream per-say and I thought that was pretty cool.”
There could only be one winner. The audience voted and narrowed it down to two finalists: ArRay of Words and Hyfadelik.
The votes came rushing in and with a voting score of 51-17, Just Jamaal announced that Hyfadelik was the lucky cash prize winner of the night. Raising his arms triumphantly, he walked up to the mic again and gave the audience one more victory slam.
“Young people are in tuned on whats going on right now,” said Sergio Guerra, also known as Hyfadelik, snapping his fingers as he explained why he loved performing for a college audience.
“We got the keenest, most open, most ready, rowdy audience than anywhere else. Like young people talk shit, we talk politics, we talk sex, we talk everything. It’s definitely more active, more responsive. You get screaming, you get yelling and it’s like live and energetic, you know. Far from what we used to think poetry was.”
Guerra went to Ottawa University for political sciences. Starting off as a rapper, he didn’t start slamming until 2009. There was something about spoken-word art that allowed Guerra more freedom to ‘break him out of his box.’
“Hip-Hop was funnelling me, where spoken word helped me blossom, be more myself.” said Guerra. “I don’t have any reason to be uninspired, the world is too beautiful.”
The poets stayed behind after the event to socialize with workers and audience members and left a great impression with Algonquin.