Canada’s spoken word community owes much of the genre’s rise in popularity to Shane Koyczan and the queer poet known as “Truth Is” is glad for that visibility. Hoping to help spread the word about spoken word herself, she finds herself getting ready to travel to Vancouver as part of the BC Youth Spoken Word Festival known as Hullabaloo.
“When [Shane] did the Olympics, a lot of people that didn’t know what spoken word and slam were started to take notice. He got people intrigued and more mentally available for spoken word.”
But while spoken word has gained in popularity, Truth Is says there is still a long way to go before it goes mainstream, recognizing a parallel to the gradual mainstreaming of hip-hop music.
“It isn’t prevalent enough that it isn’t still underground,” she admits, “I don’t worry about [the mainstreaming of spoken word] right now but as it happens I think the artists in the spoken word community will be much better prepared.”
Originally a hip-hop artist herself, Truth Is first came across spoken word a decade ago while still involved in the music scene, but it took another four years before it became all-consuming.
Since then she has found herself as co-director of Guelph Spoken Word, artistic director of the Guelph Youth Poetry Slam, been a multiple individual slam champion, performed across North America and has even opened for Canadian hip-hop artist K-OS.
A social activist through her spoken word poetry, Truth Is finds inspiration from a variety of sources, preferring a more generalized approach though when it comes to the more activist side of her work.
“I’m always trying to look at things a different way, sometimes my personal life and my family and sometimes the politics of life, social justice and activism, but I prefer to connect it to the human experience rather than a specific cause,” she explains.
Scheduled to appear at Hullabaloo this April, she will not only perform but work directly with the 16 school teams composed of over 80 youth poets from across British Columbia that will participate in this year’s festival. A forum for youth to tell their stories, explore the issues that matter to them, and find their voice, Hullabaloo fits perfectly with Truth Is’ own advice to the younger performers.
“As corny as it sounds my advice is to be yourself and speak your own truth,” she says. “Honesty is the best poetry and if you don’t tell your story it doesn’t get heard.”
Hullabaloo: BC Youth Spoken Word Festival
3 – 6 April 2013
Roundhouse Community Centre, 181 Roundhouse Mews, Vancouver
Hullabaloo is a youth poetry festival. 16 school teams composed of over 80 youth poets from all over British Columbia come together to compete in slams, participate in workshops, see great feature poets, and connect with other writers. Visit http://youthslam.ca for more information.