February's Awesome Ottawa award goes to Ikenna Onyegbula to support the inaugural YouthCanSlam spoken word festival, to be held this August in Ottawa.
"The YouthCanSlam Festival," he explains, "is an attempt to seize upon the growing hunger for a Canada-wide youth poetry competition and foster a national community of youth poets. Here, youth may further explore the art form, benefit from a wider exposure of their work, and grow through the opportunity to workshop with more experienced and established poet mentors. A thriving national youth program," he says, "is paramount to the sustenance of Canadian spoken word and has proven successful in other countries, like the United States, where marquee youth competitions like Brave New Voices have helped further develop the country’s spoken word scene."
The festival will be held August 20-25, and feature a daytime schedule dominated by workshops, showcases, and open mic sessions. Slam competitions, including an 8-12 team tournament, will be the focus of the evening schedule. The award from Awesome Ottawa will specifically support having established spoken word adult mentors from across the country create and facilitate youth workshops and put on showcases during the week's events.
Ikenna, in his late 20s, is a Nigerian-born spoken word performance poet who came to Canada in his teens. He has been performing professionally for the past four years throughout Canada, the United States, and Europe, and has won several poetry slam competitions, including two Canadian National Poetry Team Titles with team Ottawa and the 2011 Canadian Individual Poetry Slam Title.
To learn more, visit http://ycs2013.com. Ikenna is also raising funds at http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-inaugural-youthcanslam-spoken-word-festival.
Funded by Ottawa, ON (February 2013)