The poeARTry Playoffs is a collaboration between the CCAG, the PEI Writer’s Guild and the UPEI Writing Centre which aims to boisterously welcome UPEI students to Charlottetown’s creative community as part of the Community Roots orientation September 16-18, 2011. The evening brought together poets, artists, enthusiasts, and students to compete in several rounds of on-the-spot poetry writing and art making. Creations were evaluated by a panel of select judges and fabulous prizes were won. Spectators were invited to join team or draw and write on the walls throughout the evening.
Last Saturday at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery there was a most unique event taking place called The PoeArtry Playoffs to engage UPEI students. Usually when I think of Poetry and Art I’m not particularly interested in who is the best or any type of scoring system. Either I like it and enjoy it or if I don’t I might try to explore why I don’t like it to see if I can possibly learn something. These types of expression seem to have much more flow if the artist or writer isn’t bound by thoughts of rejection. But what if it was all about camaraderie?
I meet Cynthia Lapena of the PEI Writer’s Guild when I arrived at the Art Gallery. She gave me a bit of an overview of what to expect for this event and we chatted about many of her experiences in art and literature, as well as some of her experiences in Singapore with event promotions. As I entered the scene there was a podium and a table to the left up front. On the left there was an exhibit of dented signs, on the right were the large walls of paper for drawing with the crayons, pastels, & markers provided in the center table.
Introducing the event were coordinators Erin Casey & Betty-Jo MacCarville, who are both heavily involved with the literary and artistic communities respectively. I was told about Betty-Jo’s talking bicycles project at the recent Art in The Open event in Charlottetown which sounded quite interesting, as it blended the teamwork of a tandem-bike, fitness, and an educative aspect with the storytelling powered by pedalling.
The MC for the evening was Donnie Killorn who was a little confused about his role joking that he thought he might be expected to bust rhymes like Young MC (“Just Bust A Move”) or MC Hammer (“Can’t Touch This”). It turns out MC – Donald was only to be the Master of Ceremonies, introducing the judges and team captains along with keeping things rolling throughout the evening. And keep it rolling he did! Donnie was hilarious up there, cracking jokes about everything from David Lee Roth to space-time and jiving with the judges.
There were 4 captains, plenty of big names from PEI on hand including brothers Damon & Brian Anselms, Daniel Lins, Deirdre Kessler, Sean Wiebe, Sara Saunders, Damien Worth (Drawing Connections at the recent Art in the Open), and one of my favorites, the Columbian artist Mauricio Aristizabal (Barrel of Monkeys at Art in the Open). The judges were Jan Rudd who was back in town from the Big Apple andGarrett Curley who took a break from a busy time as editor of UPEI’s student newspaper “The Cadre” (which was well put together in my opinion).
Round one event were couplets about University life with a relatively short time-limit. The four teams teams gathered in their spaces to come up with some brief laments that set the stage for the competition as undeniably light-hearted. It was a good ice-breaker. Teammates Mauricio and Deirdre said they were looking forward to the opportunity to work with the three energetic kids on their team.
During the next round teams picked a theme from a hat to form a sculpture and write a limerick about another team’s creation. The duration of this one was about a half an hour, so it gave me a chance to draw up a pastel sketch on the big canvas provided. After that I wandered about and got to witness the creative process and team interaction, as well as get to know some more of the participants a little better.
The first project I checked out was by Team Purple who were building a village of clay. Sean Wiebe was the poet of the group so he spent a little more time on the sidelines for this one while the other members put together the better part of the sculpture. He told me about his stops along the way in western Canada before landing 4 years ago at UPEI. He recently had a book of poetry published called “How Boys Grow Up”and is currently working to help high school teachers evolve to the digital age. He also explained the anatomy of a limerick to me as following the pattern A-A-B-B-A.
Event MC Donnie Killorn told me about his current job as a marine biologist in Belize, south of Mexico. He really loves to come back to PEI and immerse himself in our thriving arts and literary scene. He mentioned that someday in the future he’d like to be able to be a permanent part of it. His cousin and event coordinator B.J. MacCarville was telling me about her role at UPEI and how she came across all of this extra clay which was used for the event.
Of course the results of this round were nothing that would ever get auctioned off at Christie’s or anything but they definitely spawned some on-the-spot creative spontaneity. My favorite was an abstract piece about the seven deadly sins. The limericks were also very entertaining, harmlessly poking fun at the opposition. Sean’s was really well put together for such short notice.
The Competition Heats Up!
The last two events included Haiku which judge Jan Rudd particularly enjoyed & chalk pastel, then a short spoken-word, free-verse poem, or rap about one of the artworks created for the finale. Most of the teams opted for rap and the results were quite impressive considering that most of the participants didn’t come across as your run-of-the-mill hip-hop star (excluding MC Donnie of course).
Team Yellow ended up taking the top prize with their well-participated effort. The audience response was awesome and I was really proud of all the teams for sharing their talents and getting up to put on a show. The event went over really well and offered a chance for something a little different on a night out in Charlottetown.