Author Archives: calgaryyouthslam

The Videos are Coming! (as is a meeting on June 19)

Here is your highly-personalized-and-not-for-mass-consumption reminder of the meeting on June 19 at “Salt & Pepper” in Inglewood at around 4 p.m. (1413 9 Ave SE). This meeting is for anyone interested in having his or her school participate in CYHMN? in 2015. Or for anyone who loves great Mexican food served on a beautiful patio. (For more information, see the “Pop Quiz, Hotshot” post below this one.)

Also, videos of the performances from this year’s poetry SLAM have started to appear, which you can check out on our YouTube channel ( or by navigating using the toolbar at the top of this page to “Can I Hear Who Now?” and then the “Videos” page. Whichever is easier for you to manage. 🙂

More videos will be uploaded over the next few weeks as our crack team made up of an infinite number of monkeys sitting at an infinite number of computers find the time to randomly generate YouTube videos that precisely replicate all of the performances. It’s a slow process due to all of the highly restrictive (and highly annoying) laws governing the number of hours you can have monkeys working at computers without a break, and due to the “Shakespeare Monkey Project” taking so many of the good monkeys.

Nonetheless, our monkeys thank you, in advance, for your patience.

Pop Quiz, Hotshot!

Please answer the following questions on the supplied Scantron sheet.

1. On Thursday, June 19, at 4:00-ish on the patio of Salt & Pepper Restuarte Mexicano (1413 9 Ave SE – Inglewood location NOT Bowness) we’ll be meeting to
A) relax and enjoy one another’s company before summer vacation.
B) discuss some initial plans for CYHMN? 2015
C) debrief CYHMN? 2014
D) all of the above

2. This meeting is for people who
A) coached a team that participated in CYHMN? 2014
B) are interested in learning more about CYHMN? 2015
C) like meetings that take place on patios (and where alcohol is served)
D) all of the above

Come to the meeting to see if you passed the test! (By the way, you DID know that this test was worth 89.7% of your final mark for the course, right?)

Things that will be allowed at the meeting, but were NOT allowed when completing the test:
– ideas about how to make CYHMN? 2015 better than CYHMN? 2014
– thoughts about roles that you might like to take on to help organize CYHMN? 2015
– questions and opinions
– a strong desire to start a poetry team at your school
– fish tacos

Things that will NOT be allowed at the meeting, but were allowed when completing the test:
– selfies (of any sort and with any one)
– David Blaine and/or David Copperfield
– Greek choruses
– personal cheer teams

LBHS’s “The Voice of the Lords” Wins CYHMN? 2014

In a final bout filled with spectacular performances and superb poetry, LBHS’s “The Voice of the Lords” was able to edge out Centennial High School’s “The Howlers, and Father Lacombe’s “Laser Nation A” and “Laser Nation B” to take home the trophy.

In addition, “The Voice of the Lord’s” Michaela Neuman won the prize for Best Individual Performance with an overwhelming presentation of her poem entitled “My Therapists Keep Asking About You.” Other spectacular performances that were in the running for the award were “Dedicated to the man on the street: I wish I spoke to you” by Camila Nuque (Father Lacombe); “Walk” by Shaka Markle (Centennial); “Water” by Bethel Afework (Father Lacombe); and “Maddie” by Chevy O’Dell (Beaverbrook).

On a day that saw unrestrained honesty, hysterical humour, touching observations, incredible courage, and cutting social criticism, everyone could agree that each poet, coach, judge, volunteer, and audience member who witnessed and experienced such exquisitely crafted poetry felt fortunate for being there. Countless comments were made by poets and spectators alike, about the strong sense of community that was created on Saturday, as well as how talented and courageous the writers/performers were.

Stepping out of the third person for just a second, I’d like to personally say “Thank you” to all of the coaches, judges, volunteers, donors, audience members, and administrators, who helped make Saturday, May 10, a memorable and special day for all of us.

I’d also like to thank the poets – your performances touched people and changed people, and those words are used only literally. In my humble opinion, that is the greatest prize a poet can ever hope to attain, and you, all of you, on Saturday, May 10, achieved it together at CYHMN?. I am in awe of each one of you. Thank you for sharing your gifts with us!
CYHMN Final Shot

Finals at 3p.m.

The first two bouts are finished. Lord Beaverbrook’s The Voice of the Lords and Father Lacombe advanced from bout one, and Father Lacombe’s Lasers and Centennial High School advanced from bout two.

The Finals will be Lacombe, followed by Centennial, followed by Lasers, with The Voice of the Lords finishing each round.

His Worship Naheed Nenshi Mayor of Calgary to Judge Finals of “Can You Hear Me Now?” – Calgary’s Inaugural High School Poetry SLAM

Mayor Naheed Nenshi has graciously and generously agreed to judge the final round of competition for Can You Hear Me Now? the inaugural Calgary city high schools poetry SLAM on May 10, 2014.

There will be more than fifty poets representing seven city high schools from both the Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Separate School District, including Lord Beaverbrook, Bishop Grandin, Father Lacombe, and St. Anne in the first semi-final at 9 a.m.; and Centennial, Bowness, Robert Thirsk, and Father Lacombe high schools in the second semi-final at 12 p.m. The top two teams from each semi-final will compete in the finals, which start at 3 p.m. The SLAM is being held in the Lord Beaverbrook High School theatre (9019 Fairmount Drive SE).

The Mayor will be joined by a variety of local poets and entertainers, including:

  • SLAM Master extraordinaire Sheri-D Wilson (named one of CBC Arts Top Ten Poets in Canada in 2009 and all-around legendary poet),
  • Kris Demeanor (Calgary’s Poet Laureate from 2012-2014),
  • Adrienne Adams (creator and host of “Woolf’s Voices”),
  • Wakefield Brewster (local performance poet and actor),
  • Paul Finkleman (longtime Calgary performance poet),
  • Desiree Gravel (member of the 2014 Calgary SLAM team),
  • D. A. Jones (singer/songwriter and member of Nerds in Cool Clothing),
  • Christa Mayer (member of Prairie Fire, the 2013 Calgary SLAM team),
  • Adora Nwofor (from The Sunday Omony Show),
  • Kirk Ramdath (founder of both the Passion Pitch poetry series and Auburn Nights),
  • Juleta Severson-Baker (from Mount Royal University’s Speech Arts Faculty),
  • Esau Tamura (member of the Calgary SLAM team in 2010 and 2014),
  • Ryan Thelwell (Calgary Stampeders’ receiver from 2007 to 2011),
  • Emily Ursuliak (local writer and member of the Calgary Public Library teen services team),
  • Benjamin Valentine (popular Calgary comedian).

We’d like to express our deepest and most sincere gratitude to all of the people who have volunteered their time, expertise, and selves, to help make this an amazing opportunity for all the poets!

Follow us on Twitter @HearMeNowYYC or use #hearmenowyyc to join the conversation.

DJ Dar Set to Spin at CYHMN?

DJ Dar has generously volunteered to spin at CYHMN?!

This phenomenal local DJ has deep roots in the Calgary community (going all the way back to the early 80’s), and is set to display of his talents for us during the SLAM! on May 10.

DJ Dar is available to DJ any function (weddings, parties, dances – you name it), so if you’re looking for a DJ for an upcoming event, come check him out on May 10 at Lord Beaverbrook High School (9019 Fairmount Drive SE) as he spins between performances and rounds. You can also find more information about DJ Dar (including contact information) on his website:

We want to express our most sincere gratitude for his generosity at helping us out and helping to make Can You Hear Me Now? an even more amazing event! His impeccable taste in music and his unerring ability to tailor the tunes to the crowd and event are sure to make LBHS the place to be on May 10.

Don’t miss it!

Sheri-D Wilson agrees to be SLAM! Master!

The one, the only, Sheri-D Wilson has agreed to be the SLAM! Master at Can You Hear Me Now?!

In case you are completely new to the SLAM! or the poetry scenes in Calgary or North America (or on the planet), here is some essential info from her bio posted at :

Sheri-D Wilson has 8 collections of poetry; her most recentGoddess Gone Fishing for a Map of the Universe. Her collection, Re:Zoom (2005, Frontenac House), won the 2006 Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry, and was shortlisted for the CanLit Award.

She has 2 Spoken Word CDs (arranged by Russell Broom), and 4 award-winning VideoPoems including: Airplane Paula(2001), Spinsters Hanging in Trees (2002), both produced for BravoFACT.

In 2011 she edited, The Spoken Word Workbook: inspiration from poets who teach(CSWS/BCP), an educational tool for teaching and writing Spoken Word. The cutting-edge website connected to this book presents a possible direction for electronic publishing in the future.

In 2009 CBC called her one of the Top 10 Poets in Canada. In 2003 she won the USA Heavyweight title for poetry, and in 2006 The National Slam of Canada presented her with the Poet of Honour Award.  Of the beat tradition, in 1989 Sheri-D studied at Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, in Boulder, Colorado. In 2012 she was presented in the opening event of The National Slam of Canada in a Toronto event called, “Legends of Spoken Word.”

Sheri-D is appearing courtesy of Word Travels, the school program sponsored by the Calgary International Spoken Word Festival ( – “a week-long celebration of the poetic life [that is] proud to offer a gathering of languages, voices, stories, and song.” Every year, the CISWF brings some of the best spoken word artists and performance poets from around the world to Southern Alberta.

She will be selling copies of The Spoken Word Workbook: inspiration from poets who teach at CYHMN? for $20 per copy – a steal for this amazing collection of words of wisdom from top performance poets from around the world, and of writing exercises that will help you to find, explore, and improve your own voice as a performance poet. If you are interested in poetry, or spoken word poetry, or if you are interested in becoming a better writer, or in teaching people to become better writers, this book should be considered indispensable.

We want to extend a tremendous “Thank you!” to Sheri-D WilsonWord Travels, and the Calgary International Spoken Word Festival for their support of CYHMN?!




Promo Posters are GO!

This week we’ll be sending out promotional posters for the SLAM! to all Calgary high schools, so keep an eye on the mailbox for your very own!

Here is a PDF of what you’ll be receiving in all it’s 11×17, full-colour glory!

A special thanks to Marisa Holloway and Caitlin Haley, two amazingly talented design students at Lord Beaverbrook High School who have been hard at work designing t-shirts, and posters, and book covers for this year’s event!

CYHMN promo poster final

Reminder 1: Upcoming coach’s meeting – check your email for date, location, and time.

Reminder 2: 33 days until CYHMN?!


Timeline to CYHMN?, Reminder, and Schools

Not much time left to prep for the first annual Calgary city high school poetry SLAM!, Can You Hear Me Now? 2014! Where has the time gone?

If you’ve registered (and paid your fees) – that’s the reminder – here is a suggested schedule for preparing your team (and yourself) so that they (and you) are ready for May 10.

Week of March 17 – group up and start working on concepts and key lines for group poems; keep working to refine individual poems

Week of March 24 – Spring Break – hopefully they will write some stuff while forgetting everything they’ve learned in the first two months of the semester

Week of March 31 – refine all group pieces; finalize individual pieces

Week of April 7 – choose the best poems and performers; choose best group poems; edit poems; start working on performances

Week of April 14 – edit poems and refine performances; complete final edits of poems in prep for memorization; attend CYHMN? organizational meeting (time and location TBA); submit manuscript of poems and section cover page design for publication (deadline and details to be communicated shortly)

Week of April 21 – memorize poems and refine performances

Week of April 28 – memorize poems and refine performances

Week of May 5 – memorize poems and perfect performances (with alliteration! everyone loves alliteration!)

May 10 – SLAM! Can You Hear Me Now? is today!

Week of May 12 – relax in the knowledge of a job well done and in the afterglow of participating in the first ever Calgary city high school poetry SLAM!; and start prepping for next year, which will be even bigger and better than this year! 🙂

Participating Schools:

St. Anne’s, Bishop Grandin, Bowness, Robert Thirsk, Father Lacombe, Centennial, and Lord Beaverbrook

Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines – and a Date Change


The final registration deadline is nearly upon us!

Please ensure that you have paid your full entry fee ($150, which would include your intent to compete fee of $50 and an additional registration fee of $100) by March 7.

Please ensure that you have also submitted the final roster for your team by March 7 (email it to Richard Wagner at

After the final registration date (changed to March 7 from February 28), we will announce the list of schools who will be competing this year.

Date Change

CYMNH? has been changed from May 14 to Saturday, May 10. The SLAM will consist of two rounds: one semi-final round and one final round.

The semi-final rounds (there will be two) will have all teams competing, with the top four teams making it into the finals. All bouts and rounds will be held at Lord Beaverbrook High School on Saturday, May 10.

A full schedule will be released after the final registration date and once all teams are finalized.