“I think I was really in awe of the fact that people could be so strong yet so vulnerable at the same time,” says two-time Vancouver Slam Champion Tasha Receno as she recalls the night she was inspired to explore spoken word poetry.
Receno’s adventure into slam poetry began when she attended an event at Kwantlen Polytechnic University while studying there as a creative writing student. She remembers being inspired by people’s honesty and the candor of the poems’ topics. That night, she discovered the world of slam poetry was a safe place, free of judgement, and that people genuinely listen to what you have to say.
Receno remembers an open mic night event at Café du Soleil as the night she realized spoken word poetry was her newfound passion.
“It was a Thursday- it wasn’t even the Poetry Slam Night. I remember, as I was doing [performing], seeing a couple of people in the audience cry. I realized that this is more than just about me now… I’m touching other people’s lives in some way now., “ says Receno.
When Receno walked off the stage, people thanked her, opening up to her about their own personal lives. Now, she thought, she not only has an outlet for herself, but also a way to help other people express themselves .
Inspiration doesn’t always come from happiness
When writing, Receno gathers inspiration from her experiences, frequently pulling from a place of hurt.
“I write because it helps me figure out my feelings about [the experience], and then it turns into a huge poem. It comes from change, or anger,” she says.
At the moment, the slam artist is writing poems that she hopes will entice her audience to learn more about certain topics.
“I’m writing poems that help bring people into an experience that is often not talked about enough or in a certain way,” she says.
Her goal is to create change and start conversations through her work; she wants to encourage people to talk about common, yet pressing, issues.
“The poems I write, there’s always some sort of story behind it. It tends to culminate in me, really trying to have a call for action for people to really be like, ‘let’s talk about this, let’s try and change it, let’s have more discussions about it,’” adds Receno.
Speaking out in Spanish
“Unfortunately, being in Canada, as diverse as it claims to be, it’s really not,” says Receno, who slams in both Spanish and English. “You often have to put your language aside, and speak English for the sake of others.”
Recently, she has been working on poems based on the theme of diaspora.
“I was born in Canada, but I don’t really feel like I’m from Canada,”says Receno.
She points out that people adopt Spanish holidays, such as Cinco de Mayo, without knowing the traditions behind it.
“Lately, I’ve been trying to incorporate a lot of history, and weave Spanish and English into a poem at the same time,” she says.
Receno writes about what she knows and what she is passionate about: her culture. She is frustrated with the feeling of how it seems to get erased repeatedly, and she wants to create a conversation about this.
“Ultimately, what I want people to take from the poems is ‘this is me standing here, being open and vulnerable with you because I need you to understand this,’ and I’m hoping that there will be a change in the end,” she says.