Matthew Pearson, Ottawa Citizen
For Liam and teens like him all across Ottawa, spoken word poetry is helping them find their voice and express how they feel about difficult things they face in their lives or the world around them. Depression, suicide, addiction, bullies, broken hearts and stereotypes are all fodder for poems, but so, too, are death, dictators and dearly beloved family members, in this art form that bursts with creativity, energy and emotion.
The budding poets meet over the lunch hour in Phelan’s second-floor classroom, where they fine-tune and perform pieces for each other. They also drop rhymes at school assemblies and many attend monthly poetry slams held at the central branch of the Ottawa Public Library.
Spoken word poetry has flourished in the city since the first national festival was held here in 2004. Ottawa teams have twice won the Canadian slam poetry title and the brand new youth team, which Liam is on, won the top prize at this year’s festival in Toronto.
Full story: Finding their voice – through poetry