The victorious voices of Victoria youth

Slam Championships showcase Secondary School talent

Reynolds Secondary senior Kanika Jackson is ready to punch you in the face with her poetry. She's a member of Reynolds' slam team, competing in the Victorious Voices April 2 and 4 at the Victoria Event Centre.

Reynolds Secondary senior Kanika Jackson is ready to punch you in the face with her poetry. She's a member of Reynolds' slam team, competing in the Victorious Voices April 2 and 4 at the Victoria Event Centre.



Take advantage of a rare opportunity to hear exactly what’s on the minds of Victoria’s youth at Victorious Voices, The Victoria Secondary School Slam Championships of spoken word poetry.

In its third year, Victorious Voices is going off campus (it’s been held at Reynolds Secondary the past two years), to showcase the performance poetry of eight secondary schools in what is surely going to be one of the most eye- and ear-opening events all year.

“For the last two years this has been easily one of the most inspiring nights of my whole year,” says Jeremy Loveday, director and one of Victoria’s most established performance poets. “To look into the audience and see only a few adults there, mostly teachers and parents, I thought the Victoria community was missing out on the powerful voices that the students have, and I wanted to share that with the community at large.”

That’s why he’s decided to move the event to the Victoria Event Centre, with eight teams facing off Monday, April 2 (8 p.m.) in the semi-finals. The top four teams will continue on to the finals, Wed., April 4 (8 p.m.) at the same location.

A poetry slam is a competition where poets are judged by audience members on a scale of 0-10. Poets have three minutes and must perform original work, without costumes, props or music. Victorious Voices is a team competition, and teams are required to perform group pieces as well as individual poems.

Loveday, who often teaches workshops at secondary schools, partnered with teacher Brad Cunningham at Reynolds Secondary three years ago to bring performance poetry to the students.

“I was interested in spoken word in high school and never had an outlet for that so I thought it was important to give the students access,” says Loveday. “We’re building the community of young poets in Victoria, and this is just one way to continue that growth.”

This is Kanika Jackson’s second year on the senior slam team at Reynolds Secondary (Reynolds holds both the city and provincial title from 2011).

Jackson discovered poetry at the behest of her English teacher, Cunningham, who caught her performing a sketch from Mad TV for the class in his absence.

“He recommended that I come to the poetry club, but it didn’t sound like a place to do something funny like that,” says Jackson. “But I realized poetry can be cool. When people hear poetry they think we get up and recite Shakespeare, but it’s not that at all.”

A workshop with Loveday got her interested in writing for performance over page poetry, which she tried her hand at but says her product was “bad. Very bad, and angsty.” She laughs. “Plus I love microphones.”

“My poetry has to be relatable in my life, but I don’t only write about things I’ve experienced,” says Jackson. “I write about religion a lot, which is interesting because I’m not a religious person.”

Jackson’s written a poem about Jesus being a girl in her class and a take on the story of Adam and Eve where Adam is a girl and the two are involved in some lesbian discourse.

“Mr. C always says it’s good to surprise them and give them something unexpected,” she says.

Jackson says Victorians might be surprised at the topics and depth of understanding that high school poets display.

“People think we’re really apathetic and maybe that’s because we act apathetic towards them, but that’s a reflection of how they treat us. There’s a lot of shit that goes down in high school. We have something to say and it’s so much more than going to the mall and to Starbucks. We do that, but there’s so much more going on, so it should be no surprise that we have something meaningful to say.”

Jackson and her three teammates (Zoë Duhaime, Holly Lam, Jordan White plus one alternate) are heading to Vancouver in April to defend their title as provincial champions at Hullabaloo BC Youth Slam. Here’s hoping that any further teacher strike action doesn’t affect the contest.

“I’m so much happier since I started with poetry,” says Jackson. “I feel like everyone needs an outlet, whether it’s creative or a sport. Writing of any kind is a great way to get things out of your system.”

This year’s celebrity judges include Victoria’s Poet Laureate Janet Rogers and Mayor Dean Fortin,  and will feature a performance by Victorious Voices Alumni of Honour, Keenan Proud. M

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Orca 1
Orcas: Our Shared Future

Royal BC Museum dives into the world of orcas with upcoming feature exhibition

Frank Ludwig in a forklift with his long hair during Trooper’s heyday. (Photo submitted)
Humble Island beginnings blossomed into storied career for Trooper keyboardist

Frank Ludwig got his start as a boy pumping the organ in a tiny downtown Chemainus church

Joan Miller with the Vancouver Island North Regional Film Commission says there’s much room for optimism in the region rebounding from COVID-19 and is excited about what the future holds for the region. Black Press File Photo
North Island film industry optimistic about post-COVID rebound

Interest in filming here is still high, according to film commission, once things open back up

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, has been filming in Langford and Colwood over the past two weeks. On April 7, filming will take place on the east side of the Esquimalt Lagoon. (Black Press Media file)
Netflix series ‘Maid’ filming in Colwood

10-episode Warner Bros. production filmed exclusively in Greater Victoria

Lantzville singer Raymond Salgado will sing ‘O Canada’ before the Vancouver Canucks’ upcoming game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 17. (Photo submitted)
Lantzville singer to perform ‘O Canada’ at Vancouver Canucks game

Raymond Salgado scheduled to sing the anthem at Rogers Arena later this month

Nanaimo children’s entertainer Steve Romanik, represented by his character Mountain Dweller, is giving away his songs and stories to help raise money for children’s causes. (Photo courtesy Steve Romanik)
Nanaimo children’s entertainer ‘Mountain Dweller’ helping raise money for kids’ causes

Steve Romanik partnering with Nanaimo Child Development Centre, B.C. Children’s Hospital

“Racing Classics” by John Horton depicts sailboats near Trial Island off the coast of Oak Bay. The painting will be featured in his <em>Maritime Impressions</em> exhibit at the Winchester Gallery until April 14.
Greater Victoria galleries beckon spring with vibrant, whimsical nature scenes

At The Galleries: look at what’s on display this month

‘We Are All Beautiful’ by Elise Cole and ‘The Modern Thrall’ by Enigye (Happy) Amarkah (from left) are two of the pieces featured in VIU’s Anti-Racism Arts Festival. (Images courtesy the artists)
Vancouver Island University holds first Anti-Racism Arts Festival

Three-day online event to feature visual arts, performance, film and poetry

Thomas Kuecks, Bellamy Kuecks and Paula Foot have come together to create an album of stories for children. (Nina Foot photo)
Moments with Miss Paula creates musical stories for kids

Music and the spoken word from Island pair available on streaming

Author Eden Robinson poses for a portrait during an interview in Toronto, Wednesday, May 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
Trickster trilogy author Eden Robinson hosts online conversation and reading

Haisla and Heiltsuk will join fans in event hosted by Vancouver Island Regional Library

Nanaimo author Lawrence Winkler’s latest book is ‘The Last Casebook of Doctor Sababa.’ (Bulletin file photo/supplied)
Nanaimo author wraps up trilogy following ‘antihero’ Island doctor

Lawrence Winkler presents ‘The Last Casebook of Doctor Sababa’

‘Frank Ney’ by Patrick Flavin, ‘Millstone River Upper Falls’ by John Collison Baker, ‘Labyrinth of Dreams’ by MA Molcan, ‘On the Other Side’ by Liana Ravensbergen, ‘December Snow’ by Laurel Karjala and ‘Jacks Point’ by Dana Smiley (cropped, clockwise from top-left) are among the works in the Nanaimo Arts Council’s latest exhibition. (Photos courtesy Nanaimo Arts Council)
Nanaimo Arts Council presents its first online gallery show

Submissions now open for upcoming ‘Ekphrastic Celebration’ show

Dorothy Sevcov’s exhibition ‘Having Fun With Acrylics’ is on display at Art 10 Gallery until the end of the month. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
Experimental paintings now on exhibit at Nanaimo’s Art 10 Gallery

Dorothy Sevcov’s ‘Having Fun With Acrylics’ on display through April

Most Read