Painter meets poets - more like a gathering of friends sharing their artwork. Monthly at the Black Bull

theartsBy Lana Kameric

October 17, 2014



I didn’t know what to expect when I walked into Black Bull Tavern last night. My publisher told me that Burlington had a slam poetry group that hosts an event every month.

As someone who has been writing poems for many years – not that I have ever dared to recite them in front of a live audience – naturally I was inclined to attend the Burlington Slam to see what it was all about. What I found was an open minded, supportive audience and a talented, confident group of artists gathering in the Fireside Lounge of Black Bull Tavern and sharing their words with all those willing to listen.

Dia Davina

Dia Davina at the Black Bull poetry slam

Most of the guests, including myself, were attending the slam for the first time. However, you would never have guessed it from the group dynamic. The engagement between the host, the audience and the performers felt familiar, comfortable, more like a gathering of friends sharing their artwork than a group of strangers. Hosted by Bassam, former satanic rapper now a performance poet and member of the Burlington Slam Project Team, the slam encourages audience participation – hissing at the poems they dislike and cheering for the poems they do like. The conversation created between the performer and the audience, while remaining respectful, leaves more room for an honest response. After all, an artist needs more than polite applause to grow in their craft.

The slam usually begins with open mic performances, which anyone may sign up for. However, since no one signed up for the open mic portion of the evening the slam was focused on the poets alone, and they did not disappoint.

Five poets competed in two rounds for a cash prize donated by the Black Bull Tavern. Dia Davina, the featured artist of the night, performed a few of her original pieces between the competitive rounds. Judges were selected from the audience to score each performance, which would determine the first, second and third place winners of the evening. Don Murray, not only a poet but also the archivist and webmaster for the Burlington Slam Project, won first place after receiving the highest score on his two original pieces.

We were warned in the beginning that is not a family friendly show, there is swearing, controversy and uncomfortable topics – my kind of art. The poems performed last night were personal, moving and at times shocking leaving the audience speechless and paralyzed before bursting into applause and cheers.

Burlington Poetry Slam group

The Slammers – Tommy Bewick second from the right got this show on the road in Burlington.

As an artist who prefers to paint my feelings I was blown away with the courage of these artists, sharing their deepest thoughts and experiences, telling us the stories that have shaped them into the brave poets that they are today. Davina’s poems in particular reminded me of painting. The way she flows from word to word, creating imagery that triggers a memory and feeling from each person in the room, resembles the way that a painter moves colour on a canvas to form symbolism that the viewer can relate to. Listening to each poem was like taking a walk through the artist’s thoughts guided by familiar ideas that exist inside my own mind. Each time I heard that pleased sigh coming from the audience I knew that I was not the only one able to relate to the poets’ words. The Burlington Slam Project was a truly inspiring experience.

The Burlington Slam Project hosts poetry slam nights every month on the third Thursday in the Fireside Lounge of the Black Bull Tavern unless noted otherwise.

Kamaric top half shoulder clear GOOD

Lana Kamarić is a contemporary surrealist artist and a self-taught painter. Born in Sarajevo, Bosnia Lana arrived in Canada at the age of five. After moving to Burlington she attended Robert Bateman High school and graduated from York University with a degree in Art History. Lana has worked with the Museums of Burlington, the Art Gallery of Burlington and is currently working as a full-time artist. Lana was a participant in Cirque, the 2014 No Vacancy installation event in the Village Square. Her last show was Art in the Workplace at McMaster Innovation Park.

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