Category Archives: Video

What I Did On My Summer Non-Vacation

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I still remember the first day of Grade Seven so clearly. I was mature. I was womanly. I was wearing a one piece floral jumpsuit with a massive Peter Pan collar. My hair was permed. My braces were blue. Our assignment was to write about what we did on our summer vacation. I concentrated really hard on making my writing small, neat, feminine, orderly…what I perceived “grown up” writing to look like. I was certain that this would be the year that I would blossom into a beautiful maiden that the Phantom of the Opera would love to kidnap and spend eternity with. Or maybe Queen Marlena from He-Man. What can I say? Twelve was a confusing age.

I’ve neglected you, my poor poetry bloggy-blog. My precious blueberries. In the spirit of my Grade Seven perm, please accept this report on my summer’s activities.

In June, I went to Capturing Fire in Washington, D.C., an international queer spoken word summit. This Ontario, Canada gal met a lot of great people and learned the true meaning of the word “humidity”. Cheeses H. Crackers. At one point, I was performing and I was desperately certain that the audience believed I was literally peeing myself because sweat was pouring down my legs like I was an incontinent granny (not yet, suckas! not yet!).

Capturing Fire
It’s not urine, it’s liquid genius. Photograph by Dominic Berry.

While in D.C., I met a fabulous person named Brynn Possible, who has a super cool tumblr called A Guide to Dancing Naked. She saw me perform at a little show named La-Ti-Do, and did a little write up on me, saying some kind things considering I was feeling like a hot mess and in dire need of a venti triple vodka valium mocha latte, with extra whip (and chains). Anyway, you should totally learn to dance naked by reading this uplifting and positive tumblr, as well as check out Brynn’s acting and singing: A Guide To Dancing Naked.

There was no rest for the wicked upon my return: I next performed at The Cherry Park Cherry Festival in Kitchener, Ontario. I must have lived in Kitchener for over a decade before I realized cherries and cherry festivals were a thing…and at one point, I lived three blocks from Cherry Park! But truly, the Cherry Park neighbourhood takes cherries and Cherry Festivals seriously, and rightly so, because their festival is a heck of a good time! My friends on the Kitchener-Waterloo Poetry Slam team also celebrated the harvest onstage with me: Taylor Heywood, Bashar Jabbour, and Oracle Whyz…all amazing artists in their own right, and worth your investigating.

Me at Cherry Park Cherry Festival
But can you *FEEL* it?!

After our performance at The Cherry Park Cherry Festival, the team and I performed at the 10th anniversary of the Latitudes Storytelling Festival, which was held in Victoria Park, in Kitchener.

latitudes
Emoting, you know, like I do.

Then, it was off to Toronto to perform at The Secret Handshake Poetry Reading Series hosted by David Bateman and bill bissett. The show was really beautiful and everyone was so kind…but my favourite part of the day hands-down was watching the geese swim on Lake Ontario with fellow performer (and a true goddess of love) Honey Novick and bill bissett.

secret handshake
Sweatin’ to the Poetries Volume 6. I actually looked gorgeous before I got on the bus, so cram it with walnuts, Buddy!

August was born, and I shlepped to St. Catherine’s, Ontario, to feature at their slam at a lovely cafe, where I had a delicious $10 grilled cheese sandwich. Only $10? No, freaking $10 for a grilled cheese sandwich. Granted, the cheese was from local cows who lived in green pastures, the bread was artisanal, and the sammerich came with a side of organic tomato jelly (read: ketchup). Definitely a long way from the “grilled cheese” of my youth where my sister and I would microwave no-name process “cheese” slices on white bread (definitely not the artisanal kind, either). I had a grand time at the St. Kit’s slam – the people there were so warm and supportive! I laughed a lot, met some new friends, and heard a wide range of poetry.

After a very brief three hours of sleep, I was at the bus station on my way back to Kitchener to perform at a private house party in honour of someone special’s birthday. Gigs with pop and cupcakes are always the best!

A few weeks later, I facilitated a workshop I created called, “An Appetite for Poetry: Exploring Poetry Through Food”. I thought it sounded really sexy and I was super pumped to give it, but only one person showed up. Apparently, everyone was full of poetry that day!

An Appetite For Poetry
Cue sad trombone music.

Suddenly, it was September, and I was performing at the Veritas Cafe, housed in Wilfrid Laurier University, as part of their RadWeek (the version of Orientation Week for people who don’t necessarily want to chant silly songs, run relay races, and whatever else the other kids are doing). I personally love the idea of RadWeek, and I wish it existed when I started at Laurier a trillion, billion years ago.

September 13th, I was back to Toronto, this time to feature at Lizzie Violet’s Cabaret Noir. If you are ever in the Toronto, Ontario area, you should really check this monthly show out. The variety of artists and the powerful love of the audience will have you floating in joy. I could not have had a better time, and I hope Lizzie will have me back some day.

Caberet Noir
Photograph courtesy of Mr. Zed Dulac.

Last, but not least, the slam team and I held our giant fundraiser to help us earn some moolah to get to the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in Saskatoon this October. It was a hiphop/poetry mashup called “Words on the Beat, Fire on the Mic: Spoken Word & Song”. I don’t want to seem like I am bragging, but this was one hell of a show! The whole team and I did our poetry thing, while we had dC of nSRk, Chris Golden, Rooster the Computer, and our very own Oracle Whyz rock the mic in the hiphop department. I am pretty sure I fell in love with hiphop all over again, which, for me, is a big thing to say, since hiphop and my cats are the longest relationships I’ve ever had. Hiphop and I are fluid bonded.

stefani took this
Photograph courtesy of my bestie, Stefani.

So, in conclusion, my poetry peeps, if you are indeed out there and somehow still reading this, my summer was busy, but fun. I hope that reading my tales of adventure kept you busy until the commercial break ended.

I leave you with a music video of one of my favourite songs played at “Words on the Beat, Fire on the Mic”, called Hands Up, Don’t Shoot by Chris Golden and Oracle Whyz (formally known as YBS Frack).

QueenMarlena_fullsizeimage01
It’s the sword.

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Hot Damn!

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What’s the most responsible thing to do after competing in a week-long poetry competition out of province, contracting a serious cold, and engaging in three full days of workshop-teaching? Why, go to Toronto and compete in another poetry slam, of course!

Hot Damn Poster by Komi Olaf
Poster and artwork by Komi Olaf. © 2015

Back in March, I won a poetry slam that gave me the opportunity to compete against poets from four other cities at the Buddies In Bad Times Theatre in Toronto. As someone who had a love affair with Sky Gilbert’s Confessions of a Naked Party Girl during her undergrad, I considered it mandatory to take the opportunity to perform on the stage that he co-founded and artistically directs (could I have possibly phrased this more awkwardly? Shit. Good thing I don’t try to make a living as a writer or anything).

The evening’s feature performer was D’bi.Young Anitafrika. There quite simply are not enough adjectives in the Universe to describe the fierce awesomeness and raw talent of this artist. I cried my way through her entire set, and my tears were by turn tears of sorrow, tears of joy, tears of pain, tears of delight, and tears of love. I will remember D’bi.Young Anitafrika for the rest of my life, and so will everyone I will ever meet, because I am making it a point to tell everyone about her. P.S. She’s also a sweetheart, which is great…nothing more disappointing than when an artist you love is kind of a jerk, amirite?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSyFtzZikb0

I know WordPress doesn’t want to give you a preview of the video. Click on the URL. I promise it is worth the exercise.

I never (okay, well, rarely) go into a slam with expectations of winning, and I always try to keep my heart and mind focused on enjoying the beauty of the poetry I am taking in, and not on pesky things like points. The people competing in the finals of Hot Damn It’s A Queer Slam were the best of their cities – I knew the poetry would be juicy, juicy…and that the competition would be fierce. And it was. And it was.

But…

hot damn trophy
Yes, that’s a trophy. A trophy for poetry. A trophy for poetry that I may have won by performing a poem about a certain vibrator.
Photography by Beth Murch © 2015

That’s right – I won! I think I might be even more surprised than you are, and I know that you are surprised! Not only did I receive this fantabulous trophy, I won a trip to Capturing Fire Queer Spoken Word Summit & Slam in Washington DC! This is an international spoken word and poetry festival, Friends. I think I might need to buy a new dress. Or, you know, a lint roller to get the cat hair off the dresses I already own.

Learn More About Capturing Fire

I feel incredibly blessed that the stars aligned in such a way that I was granted this opportunity. I am grateful for Cathy Petch, the slam’s creator and organizer, and everyone else involved. It was a gift to hear from all the poets – I laughed, cried, cheered, booed, hissed, clapped, and snapped until I had absolutely nothing left inside of me, and that says a lot coming from a big gal like me!

But hey, don’t just take my word for it. TOpoet wrote a great blog post about the event that got me excited all over again. You should totally read it:

“I Speak In Cursive” (also, not going to lie: I’m super jazzed that a line from my poem “Tongue” is the title of the post!)

My heart is filled with love and hope for the future.

Frosty vs The Suitcase
This is one of the reasons that I am always covered in fur, even when I travel.

Chemda vs the suitcase
This is the other reason.

“I Come From A City of Fingers…”

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I try not to make this blog a diary, because I know that nobody wants to read about what I eat for dinner…but some cool stuff has been happening in my world, and I want to share it, since so many people have played a part in helping me to have these experiences.

From April 28th – May 3rd, 2015, I was in the beautiful city of Vancouver, British Columbia, competing in the Canadian Individual Poetry Slam, which is a part of Verses, a big poetry festival there. It was my first time in Vancouver, and I was madly in love with the mountains (and the ocean, but I really only saw that in a harbour, under a bridge, as I was speeding by in a taxi).

Mountains!
Photograph by Beth Murch © 2015

People just walk around like there weren’t mountains…MOUNTAINS!…all around them!

More Mountains
Photograph by Beth Murch © 2015

Can you spot me in this picture?

Verses Pic
Photograph by Evil Patrick Shannon © 2015

So, at the end of it all, I placed 28th out of 40 of Canada’s most talented poets…so, I won’t be repping Canada at the World Poetry Slam anytime soon, but I held my own and I dropped some super sweet poetry (not that I’m biased or anything). What a great adventure! Thank you so much to everyone who helped to make this trip possible – so many of you generously donated so that I could make this dream come true. I am profoundly honoured that you invested your time and money into me, and I hope that I made you proud.

Rainbow Dress Day
Supercalafragaliciousexpealarainbowdressselfie.
Photograph by me, obviously. © 2015

I want to leave you with a poem performed by an East Van Slam poet, Zaccheus Jackson Nyce, of blessed memory, about the city of Vancouver. I missed my friend’s presence while in his city, and it was hard to perform without his voice in the audience, but part of me knew that he was there with us all along. Please explore his poetry – he really was someone who could have done Canada proud at the World Poetry slam.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9kxfA1lPj0

I know WordPress doesn’t want to show you a video preview. Please click the URL anyway. It’s worth the exercise, I promise.

CanLip: The Great Canadian YouTube Contest – Can You Help?!

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“This is for all the fat girls!” – Camryn Manheim

My Little Blueberries, this is the last time I will implore you to go to YouTube and click “thumbs up” on this video so that I can hope to make it into round two of CanLip: The Great Canadian YouTube Contest. Please share it with your friends and have them do the same.

I want to take a moment to talk about why this video and why going to Vancouver for Verses Festival of Words is so important to me. All my life, people have been telling me to make myself smaller – that nice girls speak softly, that they shrink themselves down, and that pine cones and rocks cutting my face meant that boys really liked me. Well, I’m kind of over that. Guess what? I’m not getting smaller. I’m getting braver. I’m not getting softer, I’m getting louder. I am not afraid to speak my truth. I am not afraid to love myself. People have threatened to kill me because of this poem. People have threatened to find where I live and sexually assault me because of this poem. Apparently, there are a lot of people who believe that it is unacceptable for a fat lady to “accept” herself – nah, fuck that…”accept” sounds like “tolerate” and I’m not a grain of sand in someone’s knickers…I LOVE MYSELF. I will never stop performing this piece because lives have been saved because of this poem (including my own). I receive messages every day about how this poem has made a difference for someone – regardless of their size. Not everyone is at a place in their journey where they can speak for themselves – but I have a big body and loud voice, and I am ready to act as a placeholder on stage until they are ready to step to the mic…and I take up a lot of room, y’all, so I’ll make sure there is a spot up here for each and every person who has something to say.

This video, this contest has nothing to do with my poetry career…to me, it has everything to do with showing the world that everybody – EVERY BODY – belongs. Our words matter. Loving ourselves, regardless of how small or large we are is okay. An important part of being healthy is believing that you have the right to exist, and that you are just as worthy of receiving the same compassion, dignity, and respect as every other person on this earth. I want someone with a powerful gift to see this video, to see a person that doesn’t quite fit a particular paradigm onstage, and to say, “If **she** can do it, **I** can do it!”….and then do something truly amazing that changes the world forever.

And, yeah, you absolutely can change the world, my Little Blueberries. You absolutely can. I love you.

CanLip: The Great Canadian YouTube Contest

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Hello, My Little Blueberries! Queen B here. I’ve somehow entered myself into CanLip: The Great Canadian YouTube Contest. Essentially, a bunch of us wacky spoken word artists have made videos of our poems and uploaded them to YouTube. The winner is the person with the most “likes”. What is the prize? An all-expenses paid trip to Vancouver, British Columbia to compete in the Canada Individual Poetry Slam and to be a national champion. I’d sure as heck love it if you could watch this video of my poem “Fat” and click on the “thumbs up” sign…and if you were to share that URL with your friends and various communities, encouraging them to do the same…well, I just might marry you. I’ll be honest – I’m really lousy at doing dishes, but I can cook better than yer mama. 

Hush

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May is Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Canada. Approximately 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men will experience sexual violence in their lifetime. Trans* folk, incarcerated people, children, and pregnant individuals are especially vulnerable to sexual assault. Most sexual assaults are committed by people known to the victim…and the vast majority of assaults go unreported because of the fear of more violence to both the survivor and/or their family, stigma, shame, unsupportive justice systems, and the systematic oppression of all genders through patriarchy. Sexual violence is not actually about sex – it is about power and domination. Part of that sense of power and domination comes from telling those of us who experience violence to keep quiet…to keep our pain to ourselves…to accept that this is the culture that we live in…and, especially for women, to not be angry (because we all know that it is “unladylike” to be angry and to raise our voices).

If you or someone who you care about has experienced sexual violence, please contact your local sexual assault support centre (many have crisis lines that you can access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) or your local hospital’s sexual assault response team. Neither should pressure you to involve the police – that is your choice. I urge you to seek medical treatment and to reach out to those around you. Ultimately, taking care of yourself means that you will be taking your power back.

You do not walk this path alone.

**TRIGGER WARNING** Discussion of sexual assault/sexual violence

WordPress does not like videos much…so click on the link below to watch on YouTube! It’s worth the journey!

Creative Commons License
This work, “Hush” by Beth Murch,  is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.