Cultural dialogue in culinary motion

Johnny Trinh hopes to create a space for improvisation.

Upcoming art performance Poets in the Kitchen is a part of the Culture Days Weekend, which will take place on September 29 alongside the Journey of a Salmon exhibition where artists explore the epic life cycle of salmon. The event will be hosted by Johnny Trinh and feature spoken words poets Johnny MacRae, Anjialica Solomon and Andrew Warner. Poets in the Kitchen will combine spoken words with culinary actions.

I have always been interested in the context of the art of people gathering together and their relationships therein, and food has been a huge part of that,” Trinh says.

A communal space for artists

BC Culture Days creates a space that allows the public free access to art and cultural experiences.

“It creates a holistic communal identity. Where we recognize that I might be different to you because of our identities but we are all part of the same space,” Trinh explains, being one of eight selected artist ambassadors and the MC for this year.

The idea to combine food and poetry first germinated when Trinh was in his graduate program and evolved over the years to become live performances with online streamings.

“I am really interested in social media and a big part of social media is about food. I want to merge the two,” he says. “The food is a way of communication in my family. It is a culture tie. In a multicultural place like North America, we are often equated to our foods.”

Speaking of the similarities between food and poetry, aside from both being creative acts, he articulates that through consumption, both food and spoken words can take us to a different place while rousing or creating unique memories. With food as performance and the kitchen as the stage, Trinh hopes to building a community for artists through poetic dialogues.

“Within spoken words, there is a need for recognizing legacy. There is a lot of turnover in the spoken words. One thing I really care about is honouring artist and paying tribute. It is about understanding the context of where they come from with their practices,” he says.

He also hopes to create a space for improvisation through Poets in the Kitchen where a lot of artists can come and play together with their own instruments and share their creative outputs.

It is about giving back

The artist himself has always had a strong interest in performance art, first in music, then in theatre and then in spoken words, having won a number of accolades in poetry slams nationwide.

“Spoken words is about telling a story that hasn’t been heard before or in your unique way. A good performance is one that is honest and committed,” Trinh says. “As a performer your responsibility is to the audience. You have a job to take care of the audience. It might be the first time and the last time they ever see this thing. There needs to be a sense of play and energy for the art form to stay alive.”

Trinh believes in creating a space of compassion where we can recognize humanity in each other through his art practices.

“It comes back to what I care about. I care about building community. I care about bringing people together,” he says. “I also teach yoga. It is about being generous. If we humans can behave the way we breathe, we can be very generous. When we breathe, we use ten percent and we give back the rest. What if life was like that? You take what you need and then you give back the rest.”

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