By Leah Ching, Staff Writer
Slam poet Desireé Dallagiacomo visited Thunder Bay for her Canadian debut last week, leading a slam poetry workshop, performing in a talent showcase, holding class talks and, a Q&A session on CILU.
Dallagiacomo is a renowned poet, ranking 3rd at the 2014 Individual World Poetry Slam, 3rd at the 2015 Women of the World Poetry Slam, and having been nominated for Pushcart Prize. She has travelled the United States, teaching and performing poetry, and has been a guest instructor at dozens of universities, including Dartmouth, Vanderbilt, and Columbia University. Her work has been featured on various sites including Upworthy, Huffington Post, and Everyday Feminism.
Along with the GIC, Desireé led a slam poetry workshop for any and all who were interested. Patrons were quickly invited into a circle and Desireé led spirited introductions, games, and exercises with her upbeat personality that kept the room bubbly. Slam poets, novice writers, and curious beginners were all in attendance and the atmosphere was inviting for all. Together, the room explored our own bodies and postures, and what simple positions such as clasping together our palms or raising an arm behind our heads evoked in our minds.
Desireé shared some of her poetry, and led the room in a discussion about what we enjoyed about slam poetry, followed by watching some recitals of slam poetry and then a reading and dissection of a poem by Marie Elizabeth Mali. Eventually, after looking at conveying feeling into metaphors, and practicing by creating our own, poems were written and shared with the group. It was an amazing experience to connect with other writers on a personal level through their poetry. Poems ranged from heart wrenching honesty to quirky humour. Desireé led the workshop and created a fun and welcoming space for all, with her teaching spawning poetry from even the shyest in attendance.
In an amazing culminating performance, the GIC and Pride Central hosted a free community talent showcase, where Desireé Dallagiacomo performed her poetry for the crowd. Her performances gave life to the stories she told, ranging from pieces about bodies, to ones that shared parts of Desiree’s life with unbridled honesty, to a critique of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” and even a recital of bad pick-up lines. Her performance was electric, and showcased not only beautiful talent in writing, but an incredible knack for engaging an audience.
Local performers Tia Lunn, Sheena Kagoya, and reigning Wig Wars King Ivan Love gave amazing performances as well, with an impromptu slam contest focused on the theme of ‘bodies’ being won by the Argus’ very own Lindsey Kelly. Free refreshments were provided and attendees were both from Lakehead students, to members of the wider community. One visitor said, “I can honestly say after opening myself up more and more to the arts I find myself realizing how much I’ve missed out on as far as an alternative way to express myself goes. Desiree had me laughing, cringing and crying listening to her stories. It was an experience I’ll remember as one of the moments where I feel like my words can be heard and appreciated no matter how controversial the subject matter might be at the time. The event was a great success and I look forward to attending another one sooner than later.”