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Toronto Media Arts Centre

32 Lisgar Street

Toronto, ON M6J 0C9

Canada

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SUGGESTED DONATIONS:

  • Festival Pass - $60

  • Finals & Book Release Ticket - $20

  • Single Event Ticket - $10

Voices of Today is a poetry festival run by youth for youth. Five days of workshops, open mics, and showcases, with the goal of bringing together youth poets from all across this colonial nation. Throughout the festival, teams will compete to be crowned the Voices of Today 2019 Grand Slam Champions.

Our festival takes place on the territory of the Huron Wendat, Petun, Haudenosaunee, and Anishinabe. We are on Treaty territory; specifically the Dish with One Spoon Wampum belt covenant between the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabe. Tkaronto is also governed by the Toronto Purchase between the Mississaugas of New Credit and the federal government.

We strive to make our festival as accessible as possible. Some features of this are:

- Active Listeners present at every event

-Affordable programming

- Confidentiality policy within workshops

- Photo & video policy that requires people seek consent

- Scent-free policy

- Physical accessibility audits released for all venues in advance

- Accessibility liaison at all events

- Anti-police

- ASL interpretors

One of our major goals with running Voices of Today has been to bring youth from across this colonial state together. Many youth poets come from small communities, and Voices of Today is one of their only sources of exposure to other youth poetry.

Although it is a competition, the spirit of Voices of Today is one of community. We believe that when we come together, we are all better for it. We seek to build a supportive national community that youth poets can turn to year after year. A community that they can grow into and mold themselves over the years.


PROGRAM:

AUG 20

Last Chance Slam
  • Tuesday, August 20, 2019
  • 8:00 PM 10:00 PM

The top 5 poets from this slam will form the final team competing in the festival. Slam is open to humans aged 22 and under.
Sign up at 7:30, show at 8

Information about our feature coming soon!


AUG 21

Dub Poetry's Interventing Aesthetic with Clifton Joseph
  • 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM

Dub poetry’s interventing aesthetic: showing the history of the movement in Canada, it’s poetics and politics, publishing moves, independent productions and interfacing with the Canadian poetry, publishing art and political industries.


Poetry as Knowledge Translation with Inali Barger
  • 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM

Poetry as Knowledge Translation:
This workshop will focus on writing poetry with the goals of clarity and translating emotions and events across many contexts and experiences. We will briefly discuss accessibility in writing as it relates to self- and world-awareness, participate in a few writing exercises, and spend some time at the end to edit if time allows. Please bring writing materials (if you have extra, consider bringing some for your neighbour, as they might not have any). All ages and levels of experience are welcome.

Inali Barger is a spoken word artist, educator, community advocate, activist, and has a habit of turning false dichotomies into biodegradable confetti. He has coached individuals and teams of poets to help them breathe into their own truths, locate their own experiences, and edit (self/others/the world, through words). Inali addresses intersectionality through the context of addiction, poverty, homelessness, mental illness, physical illness, queerness, research for advocacy on behalf of himself and others, and his nearly 11 years of dedication to the London Poetry Slam and Canadian spoken word community. He has competed nationally five times, placing 2nd nationally on the London Poetry Slam team in 2016, and was Underground Indies champ in 2017. He has performed, offered workshops, and spoken on panels at international and national conferences, universities, high schools, public schools, libraries, drop-in centres, living rooms and in conversations with strangers.


Song Making with Natalie Fasheh
  • 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM

Sound and song is a collaborative, practical, and joyous music making session, aiming to build community, while exploring sound and song. Throughout the workshop, community members will improvise, explore, and combine their creative ideas, as well as global topics, by creating a simple song. This music making approach aims to show the wonderful relationship between community and music, between ourselves and our surroundings.

Natalie Fasheh is a Palestinian-Jordanian emerging singer, teaching artist, choral arranger, choral conductor, and poet. She is passionate about celebrating both the diversity and common threads of humanity through community music. Natalie has co-launched Mosaic Music Collective, a project inviting newcomers and long-standing residents to connect by sharing music from around the world. She facilitates empowering music-making atmospheres with diverse communities, and has been a guest artist with various choirs. Natalie’s poetry reflects her explorations as an immigrant in Canada, with themes of home, connection to nature, and the spirit of humanity. Natalie has spoken her poetry as a featured artist at choral concerts, and also shares it in protests and rallies. She is excited to take part in Voices of Today!


Voices of Today Preliminary Bout #1
  • 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM

The top two teams of the evening will move onto final stage Saturday. Competing teams TBA


Showcase ft. Nasra, Inali Barger, & Easily Discouraged
  • 8:00 PM 10:00 PM

This event is an open mic (for youth 25 and under) with performances by the following three artists:

NASRA is a queer, Muslim, Oromo creator/curator living in Amiskwaciy (Edmonton) on Treaty 6 territory. They were the Youth Poet Laureate of Edmonton from 2016 to 2017 and are the founder of Black Arts Matter—Alberta’s interdisciplinary Black arts festival— and Sister to Sister, an artistic showcase for/by femmes and women of colour. In 2017 they were the recipient of the Mayor’s Emerging Artist award and have taken their poetry across Turtle Island to spaces such as; New York Fashion Week, Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, Women’s March YEG and the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. NASRA believes that art is not art unless it is active, and uses their voice and event planning skills to push for structural change for marginalized people. Exemplified in 2018 when they joined RARICANow! an organization dedicated to the advocacy and protection of LGBTQ2IA+ refugees. NASRA’s first poetry chapbook A God Dance in Human Cloth with Glass Buffalo Publishing celebrates the soft warrior in all of us; a call to step into our divinity and into ourselves, with fists unclenched.

Inali Barger is a spoken word artist, educator, community advocate, activist, and has a habit of turning false dichotomies into biodegradable confetti. He has coached individuals and teams of poets to help them breathe into their own truths, locate their own experiences, and edit (self/others/the world, through words). Inali addresses intersectionality through the context of addiction, poverty, homelessness, mental illness, physical illness, queerness, research for advocacy on behalf of himself and others, and his nearly 11 years of dedication to the London Poetry Slam and Canadian spoken word community. He has competed nationally five times, placing 2nd nationally on the London Poetry Slam team in 2016, and was Underground Indies champ in 2017. He has performed, offered workshops, and spoken on panels at international and national conferences, universities, high schools, public schools, libraries, drop-in centres, living rooms and in conversations with strangers.

Easily DIscouraged is a Singer Songwriter, playing classical guitar since she was 13, she is largely a self-taught musician. Her influences range from classical composers such as Villa-Lobos, and Leo Brouwer to amazing artists such as Saviour Blue, LP, and Shea Diamond. She is still finding her sound, however it seems to be resting somewhere in the folk genre, spanning the spaces between blues, horror and punk. Her music covers themes of madness, poverty and colonization as well as family dysfunction, isolation and rage. Running from personal narratives of peace and anger, to allegorical tales of breakdown and revolt she hopes to connect and share space with her listeners, inviting them to reflect on their own narratives and the way they intertwine and mimic the larger forces at play in our lives. She looks forward to playing and singing for everyone, and looks forward to hearing from and meeting many folks from voices of today.



AUG 22

Affirmation as a form of Resistance with Gabriel Ramirez
  • 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM

A catalyst to choosing oneself through difficult times and practicing the importance of our truth “I Am Here: Affirmation as a form of Resistance” is a workshop where participants can speak back to that which has made us feel small, invisible and impossible throughout our lives. This workshop encourages participants to reclaim their bodies and histories. Whether it is a bully from your childhood, someone who told you that you can’t or a country with systems that has showed you it doesn’t care whether you are alive or not, it’s time to become bigger. It’s time to denounce the false truths others have given us about who we are and our worth. In these workshops we will be reading texts by Audre Lorde, Lucille Clifton, James Baldwin, Jericho Brown, and Ocean Vuong in conversation with visual artists like Frida Kahlo, Kehinde Wiley, Flying Lotus and Nick Cave all of whom’s work reminds us to speak our truth, love and do more than survive.

Gabriel Ramirez is a Queer Afro-Latinx poet, activist, and teaching artist. Gabriel has received fellowships from The Conversation Literary Arts Festival, Palm Beach Poetry Festival, The Watering Hole, CantoMundo and Callaloo. Gabriel has performed on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theatre, United Nations, Lincoln Center, Apollo Theatre and other venues & universities around the nation. Gabriel was featured in Huffington Post, VIBE Magazine, Blavity, Upworthy, The Flama, and Remezcla. You can find his work in various spaces, including Youtube, and in publications like The Volta, Winter Tangerine, Wusgood, Drunk in a Midnight Choir, VINYL, and in ¡MANTECA!: an Anthology of Afro-Latino Poetry (Arte Público Press 2017), Bettering American Poetry Anthology (Bettering Books 2017) and forthcoming in What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump (Northwestern University Press 2019)

Healing through Clowning with Angelicuss
  • 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM

As marginalized artists, our suffering, pain and hurt is often marketable. In this workshop, we are going to counter self-exploitation with self-love, we are going to make our radical-play and healing part of our practice, instead of only our trauma. Clowning and Collage: A workshop on Radical-self love as a marginalized artist is a workshop that focuses on radical play, self-love and femme empowerment through performance poetry, poetry improvisation and clowning poetry exercises. During Clowning and Collage, workshop participants will be re-energized to place spontaneity, creativity and delight into their craft. With exercises such as crafting a “ride-list”, collage making, exorcising old grief through comedic performances, and stream-of consciousness poetry writing, this workshop will not only hone in on the development of poetic skill, but also serves as a way to cope and continue. There will be an emphasis on dialogue around how to decolonize our own art practice and the series of difficulties in choosing to be an artist for a living. This workshop is intended to be a space for community knowledge sharing, for re-energizing ourselves and finding the play in our work again.

The Angelicuss (AKA Anjalica "Anjalicrush" Solmon and Angelica "ANGELIQUOI?" Poversky) are two loud mouth poets that use a medley of spoken word, music, rap, and clown to share their stories. The best friend duo have shared stages with rabbis, scientists, activists, clowns and politicians. They have been invited out to perform in events like the Vancouver Sex Positivity Conference, the CHIMO Voices against Violence against Women Festival, the Vancouver Sustainability Conference and a whole bunch of other brilliance across the country! They are also both organizers of UBC Slam Poetry, and have organized like International UBC Womxn's Day, ARTIVISM and UBC LGBTQUIA2S+ Pride Festival. They run workshops on reappropriating the white male gaze through collage and radical self love and radical play through clown. Also, they are currently working on a Fringe Show which is a musical comedy/spoken word spectacle on reclaiming consent, healing after abuse, and femme empowerment.


Voices of Today Preliminary Bout #2
  • 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM

The top two teams of the evening will move onto final stage Saturday. Competing teams TBA

Showcase ft Arvind Nandakumar, Evelyna Ekoko-Kay, Billie the Kid
  • 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM

This event is an open mic (for youth 25 and under) with performances by the following three artists:

Evelyna Ekoko-Kay is a queer, black-mixed, cop-hating poet from Hamilton Ontario. Currently, she is an MFA candidate at the University of Guelph. Her writing has been featured in Tenderness Lit, Voicemail Poems, Pinapples Against Patriarchy Zine, The Undergraduate Review, and Collective reflections

Arvind Nandakumar (they/them) is a microbiologist, computer scientist, & poet. Arvind is the 2017 Individual World Poetry Slam Champion, & 2018 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational recipient of 'Best Writing as a Team.' Their work has been featured on Button Poetry, Slamfind, Write About Now, & PSI. Arvind's works focuses on their experiences as a 1.25 generation Indian-something immigrant on the autism spectrum. They are currently pursuing a B.S in Microbial Biology, with a concentration in Computational Genomics, at UC Berkeley

Billie the Kid (Billie Kearns), is a Dené spoken word poet with a BASc in Electrical Engineering. Her poetry uses storytelling and playful metaphors to explore relationships with her friends, family, culture, and good smelling food. Billie loves ice cream, allegories, dancing, robots, and dancing robots.

Originally from Yellowknife, Billie moved around a lot then ended up mostly growing up in Ottawa, where she first started going to slams in 2012. Since then she’s participated in spoken word events across Canada and in the United States. She competed with the Ottawa Youth Poetry Slam Team at YouthCanSlam in 2013 and in 2014, the team placing second both years. She continued to represent Ottawa for another two consecutive years, this time on the Capital Slam Team at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in 2015 and in 2016. Billie led Queen’s University to compete in the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational for the school’s first time ever in 2016, for a second time in 2017, coached the team in 2018, and competed again in 2019. Among many events, Billie has been featured in the ‘Ways We Love’ showcase at CFSW 2017 and co-featured at Voices of Today in 2018.

AUG 23


Responsibility of the Storyteller Collective Writing with Janice
  • 3:00 PM to 5:30 PM

Why do you write? Why do you share? What is your purpose as an artist? Who is your community, your audience, and why do they matter to you? Why did your ancestors choose you as a storyteller? In this workshop we will examine and define our artistic practice within the context of our times and community. Artists will leave with a working draft of their artist statement, and a clearer vision of their artistic path.

Janice Jo Lee (she/her), aka Sing Hey, is an award-winning multidisciplinary artist. She is a spoken word poet, folk-soul singer-songwriter, playwright-actor, and educator from Kitchener, on Haldimand Tract treaty territory. Lee is a hard femme queer radical and is passionate about building flourishing communities based in justice and joy through art. She believes in the power of storytelling to build a bridge across difference and bring people together. Her latest compositions are Ancestor Songs, wailing and heart-wrenching melodies full of power and ferocity. She is working on her upcoming albums Ancestor Song, and Lonely is the Lullaby.

Currently Janice organizes with Groundings, a movement to raise up BIPOC poets under the mentorship of Lillian Allen. She is the founding artistic director of the Kitchener-Waterloo Poetry Slam and created its first Spoken Word Residency program for emerging professionals in 2018. She is a previous board member for Spoken Word Canada and chaired its Anti-Oppression Committee during its legal crisis of 2015. Janice is a professional arts educator who has facilitated workshops across the country. She strives to follow the trails blazed by artists d’bi young anitafrika, El Jones, Kai Cheng Thom, Andrea Thompson and Lillian Allen.

In 2016, Janice and filmmaker Becca Redden toured Canada and interviewed QTBIPOC spoken word poets and created the documusical “The Legend of Sing Hey.” which premiered at the Toronto Queer Film Festival in 2018. The film demonstrates how artist-activists are each doing the work in their respective cities to build resilient and thriving arts communities.

Janice has featured at Louder Than A Bomb Hamilton, Verses, the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, Hillside, Artswells, Queeries, In the Soil, and YouthCanSlam. In Waterloo Region, she was voted Best Performance Artist three years running from 2016 to 2018. Janice was the City of Kitchener’s Artist in Residence in 2015 and her music has been played nationally on CBC radio. She is an artistic associate of the MT Space (Multicultural Theatre) in Kitchener and co-directs its Young Company with Ahmad Meree


ASL Cabaret in Toronto at Voices of Today
  • 7:00 PM 9:00 PM

ASL Cabaret is honored to have their first international show as part of the Voices of Today Poetry Festival in Toronto Canada! With the help of Deaf Spectrum we are most fortunate to be hosting some of Toronto's best ASL performing artists. We will be posting artists' information as we go along. Let's show the festival what ASL looks like in performance! We know it's awesome! Please help us spread the word so all will see how popular ASL shows are. The admission is just a suggested $10.
Also, know that ASL Cabaret will be providing ASL interpretation for their final slam and a few other events. You can go to their website of facebook page for more info; or ask here. See you there with fingers flying!


AUG 24

Languages of Hope - A communication workshop with Desmond Cole
  • 2:00 PM 3:30 PM

We are surrounded by bad news, negative framing, and limiting language. We can often find ourselves reacting and responding to things we don't want, instead of expressing what we need and wish for. Through examples from literature, news, and social media, we'll identify and break down communication techniques that perpetuate harmful ways of thinking and understanding, and practice communication styles that express our hopes, desires, and dreams.

Desmond Cole is an award-winning journalist, an activist, and an author. He has written for numerous local and national publications, especially regarding anti-Black racism and white supremacy in Canada. Desmond also hosts a radio show every Sunday afternoon on Newstalk 1010 radio. Desmond was awarded the 2017 PEN Canada Ken Filkow Prize for freedom of expression in Canada. His first book, entitled "The Skin We're In" will be published in January of 2020.


Voices of Today 2019 Finals
  • 5:00 PM 6:30 PM

Watch as the 4 highest scoring teams from the festival battle it out to be crowned Voices of Today 2019 Grand Champions.


Chapbook Release Party ft. Zoey Roy, El Jones, & More!
  • 7:30 PM 10:00 PM

Throughout the festival participants will create a chapbook of their work under the facilitation of Zoey Roy. Come get a copy of the book for yourself, and hear performances from Zoey Roy, El Jones, Clifton Joseph, and Gabriel Ramirez, as well as youth from each competing team

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Date and Time

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Toronto Media Arts Centre

32 Lisgar Street

Toronto, ON M6J 0C9

Canada

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