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Airdrie student wins big at Calgary Spoken Word Festival

By: Allison Chorney

  |  Posted: Thursday, Apr 17, 2014 11:53 am

Devin Foster from George McDougall High School won the Youth Slam at the Calgary Spoken Word Festival on April 5. The 17-year-old, Grade 17 student performed three of his poems at the festival to come away with the top prize.
Devin Foster from George McDougall High School won the Youth Slam at the Calgary Spoken Word Festival on April 5. The 17-year-old, Grade 17 student performed three of his poems at the festival to come away with the top prize.
Allison Chorney/Rocky View Publishing

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Airdrie’s Devin Foster, 17, entered his first spoken word competition and came out taking the top spot in the Youth Slam category on April 5 at the Calgary Spoken Word Festival.

“I was flabbergasted,” Foster said of the win.

“It was almost a sense of I didn’t believe it, it didn’t happen.”

Foster became interested in performing spoken word after attending a professional slam poetry event in Calgary last year, where he said he was inspired by the performance art and started looking for opportunities to try it out.

“Honestly, I loved reading poetry to myself before and I watched spoken word people on YouTube and I really got into it,” he said.

The Calgary Spoken Word Festival website describes the performance art as encompassing word, language, rhythm, sound, music and beat, and is written and presented in the voice and tone of the people.

At the April 5 event, Foster participated in three consecutive elimination rounds and performed three original poems he wrote over the last year.

“On the final round when it was the best of the best, I honestly didn’t think I would win,” he said, adding the experience was tense.

His poems included What Will I Be, which he said is about not wanting to do what other people think you should do for a career.

“It’s about growing up and choosing an occupation you like. It’s about dreaming,” he said.

He described his poem Warning Labels as about, “people needing warning labels because we’re each breakable.”

He also wrote and performed I Am This, which is about who Foster sees himself as and is also about poets that have inspired him.

The Grade 12, George McDougall student said he was drawn to poetry because it contains a lot of meaning in the words.

“Instead of writing a book or article, (poetry) has more symbolic meaning to it. It comes from the heart and is my perspective of the world,” he said.

He said he hadn’t had much experience with public speaking before the slam event, with his only reference for it being reading out loud in class.

“I was nervous the first round but got into it because the audience warms up to you,” he said.

Foster said he was surprised by the audience feedback after the performance and said several people came up to him and told him they enjoyed his performance.

As the winner of the Youth Slam, Foster walked away with a $150 prize, which he will put into his savings account, and a free spoken word book.

He said for people considering competing in a spoken word competition the experience is intense but entertaining.

And for people interested in watching an event for the first time, he said it is enjoyable and thought provoking.

Up next for Foster is graduation and then attending Mount Royal University in the fall where he has been accepted into the open studies program.

He said he would like to look into enrolling into a journalism program in the future and will continue to share his poetry.

To view Foster’s performance at the festival, visit his YouTube channel CrossCrowMusic.

achorney@airdrie.greatwest.ca


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