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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

BLRC hosts Ian French in Toronto

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Bengali Literary Resource Centre (BLRC) had the pleasure to host Canada's winning slam poet Ian French, otherwise known as IF The Poet, on January 6 during the Centre's monthly book event open to the public. Avid readers and literature and art enthusiasts gathered in the early morning to welcome the distinguished guest. Ian French, the 2014 Canadian Individual Poetry Slam Champion, has performed at various festivals including the prestigious Word On The Street and Words Aloud.  

The event started off with Ian performing two of his spoken word poems, "Question" and "Transcend" which forwarded the central message of diverse human experiences but sharing similar struggles and emotions. This was to say that the audience may not identify themselves with the specifics of each poem but there are collective experiences that resonate.

Ian mentioned that poetry is a valuable form of communication, and writing as a vehicle for it; whether speaking about love, relationships, or social change in his poetry, he wants to acknowledge that we, despite our differences, are all a part of the human family. Language is important in this endeavor, initially writing hip hop lyrics and evolving into spoken word. He found the performance aspect of this genre to be challenging, as it was something outside of his comfort zone, but rewarding in being able to create change in how people view certain life experiences.

Ian recited "Growing Up Hurricane" and explained the contradictions he faced. In his recitation of "Death is a Fox", a tribute to remembering his mother while she was losing her memory, he talked about the experience of growing old and becoming a "more extreme version of yourself", referring to how she changed to become a nicer and more stubborn person through time but still a strong spirited, wise woman and feminist that gave Ian the impression as a young boy that women were a strong and independent.

While asked if he had any advice for someone starting spoken word for the first time, especially as a middle aged person among a typical younger audience, Ian French left us with this: dig deep and uncover an experience or struggle in your life that evokes intense passion, whether its happiness, frustration, love, anger, desperation and use that to inspire a purpose to start writing.

There is really no way to be absolutely prepared for a performance, no matter the size of the audience, to paraphrase Keteku, you have to truly believe in what you are saying and confidence in the poem will come naturally, of course with enough practice and rehearsal as well. For IF, his mission in life and poetry is love; the guiding principle that unites us, to tap into that potential and create social change among inequality and social stratification, but also to celebrate life. It could be noted that BLRC holds reading at 11 am on the first Saturday of every month at Albert Campbell Library Auditorium located at 496 Birchmount Road. English books of/on Bengali literature are lent to anyone of the community from 10 am to 1pm.

-Shammah Salwa

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