Famous Last Words – Poetry Slam: wit and word

Poetry and comedy are expertly blended in Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) Famous Last Words, where contestants push each other to their creative limits in a series of games designed to test artistic and comedic merit.

On June 22 at Pyatt Hall at the VSO School of Music, Famous Last Words brings together a well-known, much loved group of writers, actors and comedians in an evening of hilarity as each competitor faces off in this poetic ‘throw down.’

Poet Isabella Wang is one of the brains behind Famous Last Words | Photo courtesy of Isabella Wang

The cast

The night promises to be a memorable one with A-list contestants which includes Dina Del Bucchia, best known for her short story collection Don’t Tell Me What to Do, Catherine Garrett, reporter and anchor for 980 CKNW, Fernando Raguero, poet and regular of Vancouver’s poetry slam scene, and RC Weslowski, himself a Poetry Slam Champion and Canadian Spoken Word Artist. Rounding up the six member cast is Isabella Wang, Poet, SFU undergrad and one of the brains behind the production.

Master of Ceremonies, Sara Bynoe, actor, producer and writer, who is best known as an actor in The Sandbox and for penning This is High School, will conduct and judge a variety of games and literary feats in an effort to decide who gets the ‘Last Word.’

The games will include up to six rounds where contestants are given the opportunity to showcase their talents. The combination of comedy and poetry will allow participants to take a unique approach to the art and to entertain as well as educate their audience. The emphasis that Famous Last Words puts on humour adds an element that allows the event to flourish in a way that is truly different from traditional poetry readings.

A door into the world of poetry

Isabella Wang, a Chinese-Canadian writer and editor, explains the value and importance of famous last words and the preparation which was required to ensure that the event achieved its goals.

“I think the event is for people who aren’t familiar with poetry to kind of offer them a door into the world of poetry, in a way that’s more accessible, that’s not just focused on words and language, but focused on the community aspect, where its just friends gathered unafraid to make fun of ourselves, and really having fun,” she says.

The Famous Last Words team recognizes the value that poetry has in the world, especially spoken poetry, and the toll that the pandemic has taken on it. The event serves as a break from the real world where spectators are able to enjoy and appreciate art.

“During the pandemic, people weren’t seeing each other much, and now there’s a lot of heaviness in the world and we are trying to lift everybody up,” Wang adds.

The writer provided a sneak peak of what to expect. Participants have been asked to bring any object of their choice and present it as a poem. The winner will then be given all the other competitors objects to take home. Without giving anything away, Wang plans to use this twist to her advantage and her object may or may not be highly desirable to take home. But to find out more, and to witness games involving balancing balloons, puppets and plague doctor masks, you will have to attend.

Famous Last Words will take place on June 22, 2022 from 7:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at the Pyatt Hall at the VSO School Of Music.

For more information please visit http://events.sfu.ca/event/29462-famous-last-words