A reflection of Opening Night by Jena Morris-Boissonneault, guest blogger 

Before the poets took the stage, ForeWord’s host, Bruce Symaka, explained that, with slam poetry, you learn the importance of performing a poem. By performing poetry, these poets are able to express the written word for themselves and show the true significance and power behind their poems. I especially liked how the poets gave the audience background information about their poems. Judging by the variety of topics the poems read at ForeWords covered, it’s clear that each poet was in a different life stage, which was interesting because they were able to relate to the audience in more ways than one.

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Host Bruce Symaka with Haiku Death Match poets. Photo by Jena Morris-Boissonneault

Mike Johnston’s poetry highlighted issues in Canadian communities, as well as those in his own life, such as with the recent birth of his son. His speech was so quick at times, that when he began to slow down, the weight of his words struck you with such force. Johnston was charismatic and he delivered his poetry with presence. Next on stage was Julia Florek, whose poetry cut deep with emotion as she spoke of family tragedy and the loss of her sister. Florek’s body language was powerful and her poetry full of vengeance. She sought to howl for her sister, and my goodness, did she ever. Amber O’Reilly followed Florek. Her poetry was much lighter than the two previous poets. I really enjoyed when she spoke of love. Her words were full of passion and laced with beautiful imagery, and her soft tone of voice was almost dreamlike. Tharuna Abbu finished up. Abbu’s poetry was performed with charm and a big smile. Tharuna’s poetry was both humorous and insightful. From Harry Potter references, to interior musings on a first date, to heartbreak, Tharuna’s words were spoken with wit and honesty.

After a short break, ForeWords took a turn down a different path and the Haiku Death Match, a Winnipeg classic, commenced. For those of you who have never been to a Haiku Death Match, it’s an entirely new poetry experience. The death match was a fast-paced and profane surprise. The haikus were hilarious, crude, and amazing. Though all of the poets that participated were venerable poetry samurais, only one could be crowned as the master.

Matt Moskal during his winner's speech. Photo by Jena Morris-Boissonneault

Matt Moskal during his winner’s speech. Photo by Jena Morris-Boissonneault

The title of the match went to Matt Moskal. Congratulations to Matt and all of the poets who participated in a great night!

– Jena Morris-Boissonneault