Nelson slam poet Laforge is heading to Vancouver to compete in the Canadian Individual Slam Poetry Championships. On April 12 he will perform a 15-minute feature set at John Ward Coffee that will help fundraise for his trip. He’s joined here by poetry council board member Jonathan Robinson

Laforge to represent Nelson at slam poetry championships

Poet will perform 15-minute feature set during slam poetry night at John Ward Coffee on April 12.

Nelson slam poet Laforge attended a Shane Koyczan spoken word performance while he was a high school student at L.V. Rogers. Though he’d dabbled with poetry over the years, he hadn’t yet found a fulfilling creative outlet. The show overwhelmed him.

“I’d been scribbling words and rhymes since I was 10 or 11, but I had no idea where I could go with it or what I could do with it. It was so inspiring to see him, but also so overwhelming I didn’t write for like six or eight months because I figured I could never write something that good,” he said.

Laforge eventually got over these feelings, and after getting invited to a slam competition in 2009 he found himself hooked on the adrenaline rush of performing in front of a crowd. He said it’s the raw vulnerability of the art form that he cherishes, and engaging with the work has been hugely beneficial throughout his various mental health and substance abuse issues over the years.

Two years ago he suffered an episode in which he ended up in a psychiatric unit, and it’s his art that’s helping him to recover and remain sober.

“I’m working every day to make sure I don’t fall back into that place where I’m sleeping in the dog park at Lakeside, wandering the streets of Baker at all hours. The best part of poetry for me is that it’s cleansing. Once it’s out of you and on a piece of paper, or on a computer screen, it’s not weighing you down anymore.”

Now sober and clean after years of self-destruction, he hopes to be a positive role model for those who have reached similar depths.

“I don’t think anyone can every really understand the crazy places I went to, but if I can give them just a sense of what it’s like, just a piece of it, that’s what I want,” he said.

Slam poetry council member Jonathan Robinson said Laforge narrowly won the designated spot to Vancouver’s national individual slam championships over busking poet Zaynab Mohammed at their recent competition.

Both Robinson and Laforge praised Mohammed’s work, which they say is indicative of the diversity within the Kootenay scene.

“The first time I went to a slam, the content and delivery I’ll never forget. They were touching on addiction, homelessness, substance abuse. As someone who comes from a background of struggling with all that, it was incredible,” said Laforge.

Robinson said Laforge’s work is emotionally potent.

“Poetry saves lives. It connects people intimately in ways you can’t have with other people. If you’re homeless you can’t go to a concert, but you can come to a slam. And you could probably go up on stage.”

Laforge said much of his work remains private, but he shares the pieces that have messages he’d like others to embrace.

“When I was around 17 a lot of my work was based around how suicidal I was, and how I was tempted to take my own life. But then I thought about the impact it would have on my family, my friends, my community. In Grade 12 that was a message I wanted to share: ‘Life will get better, you can get through it’.”

His hope is that his outlook will encourage others, and also inspire them to jump on stage at one of their upcoming performances.

“Don’t give up hope. I found my hope and my own way, and so can you.”

The Nelson Poetry Slam is currently held on the second Sunday of every month at 7 p.m. at John Ward Coffee. Lately the event has been so popular they’ve been pointing a speaker at the patio for the audience assembled outside.

Robinson, who also works as a videographer and runs the YouTube Channel ilovedjwho, said he’s planning a collaborative video with Laforge. He recently filmed and produced the debut track by local band Sofiella Watt and the Huckleberry Bandits.

For more information visit Nelson Poetry Slam and Laforge Poetry on Facebook.

Just Posted

Forester’s video animation helps explain Nelson’s wildfire risks

John Cathro’s video shows who owns land in and around Nelson

‘Surrounding a community with a fire break won’t help’

RDCK offers fire danger assessments to homeowners

Carfentanil found for first time in Castlegar

Killer opiod found in local illegal drug market

LETTER: 140,000 jobs are at risk

From reader Robert MacCrae

LETTER: Grateful for guardian angels

From reader Botella (Bo) Rudolph

VIDEO: Nelson students paint Parachutes for the Planet

The youth-led initiative lobbies governments for climate change action

Ex-mayor of northern village claims its drivers are overpaying ICBC $1,800 a year

Darcy Repen says data shows Telkwa households are being ripped off for car insurance

Deadly synthetic drug found in Kamloops that puts users in ‘zombielike’ state

Interior Health warning says substance causes ‘speedy, trippy-like symptoms’ and hallucinations

Trudeau to be portrayed on ‘Simpsons’ episode

Toronto journalist who’s posted videos of himself doing impressions of the PM voiced him for the show

Elizabeth May’s wedding dress a ‘walk through a garden’ on Earth Day

Green Party leader set to get married in Victoria

Bodies of 3 mountain climbers recovered after last week’s Banff avalanche

The men disappeared while attempting to climb the east face of Howse Peak in the Icefields Parkway

Happy birthday: Queen Elizabeth II turns 93 on Easter Sunday

Sunday is the first of two birthday celebrations each year for the queen

RCMP confirm witnesses say body found at Kelowna’s Gyro Beach

Police tape is blocking part of the beach and several RCMP officers are on scene.

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

Most Read