Blank Canvas has seen quite some activity over the past six months, especially when it comes to its Dead Poet series. The monthly spoken-word event never fails to quickly populate the gallery with people – whether recurring faces, or first-timers who happened upon the event by chance. Regardless of what brought each individual to the latest installment of the increasingly popular event, everyone came together to hear the good word, vibe together, and enjoy some beats provided by in-house DJ, Abscvnd.
This edition of Dead Poet saw a very different turn, with new features such as framed poetry all around the room, as well as a giant scroll, which placed you on a “list” to perform on the open mic, in which names were picked at random.
There are many themes portrayed throughout the night, both vocally and on the walls. As co-host Brittany Hendry steps up to the mic to perform to a full room, she states how “people LOVE to write about love.” As well as social injustices, overcoming life’s obstacles, and how “pussy makes the world go round”, the ethos of Dead Poet has remained true from the start: it’s a space for self-expression, to say what’s been sitting deep within your consciousness, and to speak your mind to an understanding, supportive and fully attentive audience.
This event is so popular, that some of us are confined to standing just outside the entrance, or in the bathroom, just to capture some of the raw emotion being conveyed.
Shortly after the event, I sit outside with event organizers John and Brittany, and have a small chat about what led to this edition being the way that it was.
What inspired you to make this a different Dead Poet, compared to what’s happened in the past?
Brittany: I was in my room one night, thinking about Dead Poet and the way it is – spoken word. Coming to Dead Poet was my first spoken-word experience ever, besides seeing it online. It really impacted me, and it made me re-evaluate the way I write my poetry, because I’ve always written it to be read, as opposed to writing it to be seen.
So anyways, I was in my room, thinking it would be cool to bring in a ‘written poetry’ aspect into Dead Poet, because it’s already [in] a gallery – It’s already a space. I came over to Blank Canvas, and I was like, “John… have you ever seen a ‘poetry gallery’?”
John: I thought it was a good idea because after doing it five times, it’s time to change something – you gotta add something to it.
B: It was cool! It was a special edition though.
J: I think it was really dope that it was a special edition.
B: Me too. I knew it, immediately when I had the idea. We did it, and we made it happen. And we had sooo many amazing submissions, for poetry and for art. The vibe was good – It was very different types of energy and different types of creativity. You’re vibing with the work on the wall. you’re vibing with the poetry and the art. And then you’re vibing with the spoken word as well. And it’s cool, because it created… a ‘mixing pot’.
J: Kinda like a cone of good vibes and electricity.
B: Exactly! It’s floor-to-ceiling poetry, when you walk in.
If you still haven’t hit up a single Dead Poet event yet, it’s never too late! The next one will be held sometime in October, and will be announced on the Blank Canvas Facebook page. Until then, check out a clip of “Street Walker”, as performed by Cassandra Yeboah (@_yungegypt), courtesy of Creatives of Toronto.