BAM! Toronto Youth Slam
BAM! Toronto Youth Poetry Slam has been providing young wordsmiths with a platform to share their story for almost 8 years. Before BAM, spoken word poetry was still growing it’s roots in the local poetry community. The Roots Lounge, hosted and organized by Dwayne Morgan was the first poetry slam series in Toronto, which started almost 20 years ago. A few years later, the Toronto Poetry Project started organizing it’s own poetry slam series. The community quickly recognized the need for a space for youth, and so a member of the Toronto Poetry Project named PAN started ‘BAM! Toronto Youth Poetry Slam’ in the annex.
During it’s fetal stages, BAM had a small, but impactful reach. Poets, rappers, musicians and spoken word fans were attending from all across Toronto and the GTA. The next few years were a slow and steady progression. Since then, BAM has had many different directors and teams, all responsible for many BAM milestones. Since the birth of BAM, it has received the opportunity be to featured in various local festivals like Word on the Street, Words Aloud, QEW Poetry Slam, Humber College’s Mental Health Symposium Series, CAMH Our Stories Festival, and more. The BAM! youth team was also crowned the champions of the inaugural Canadian Youth Poetry Slam Festival (YouthCanSlam 2014) and most recently opened for Canadian Spoken Word Legend, Shane Koyczan.
In 2013, Brian Milado and Spencer Butt, two past members of the directing team were responsible for making BAM the first Canadian youth poetry slam series to send a team of young poets to the biggest youth spoken word festival in North America, Brave New Voices. BAM has sent a team every year since.
In 2014, BAM! youth slam appointed a new director named Patrick de Belen. Using his wider reach and work in the surrounding school boards, BAM began to see an influx of interested youth attending the poetry slam events every month and also wanting to be more involved in BAM and local community initiatives. Now, as spoken word is on the rise in Canada, BAM continues to serve hundreds of youth from all across the city and continues to be the go-to safe space for young artists - and the most high-energy poetry slam community this city has ever seen.
BAM! The Toronto Youth Slam was created to give young poets a forum for their writing. This slam is intended for poets age 12-19 who want to get up and show their stuff in a setting of their peers. This allows poets to get up and compete in a slam setting without the intimidation one might feel going up against much older veterans. It's a two round slam, with up to 12 poets in the first round and 6 in the second. After the slam, points are awarded based on standing. The poets with the most points at the conclusion of the regular season are invited to compete in a semi-final round, with the top eight scoring poets proceeding to a final round to form a team which will represent the Toronto Youth Slam at performances and competitions.
Toronto's Youth Slam happens monthly at the Central - 603 Markham St (near Bathurst and Bloor, www.thecentral.ca) on the second Wednesday of the month. Sign up for the slam and open mic start at 6:00pm, with the slam starting at 6:30pm. Aside from the competition, the audience and poets are treated to a monthly feature poet.