Mouthy kids

David Zinck’s monthly poetry slam event in Dartmouth offers youth a chance to speak their minds.

David Zinck’s poetry event offers an all-ages alternative for youth like Emily MacLean. - SCOTT BLACKBURN
David Zinck’s poetry event offers an all-ages alternative for youth like Emily MacLean.

David Zinck has been involved with spoken word and slam poetry for about seven years. In that time, he's run a spoken word club where he teaches at Dartmouth High and has travelled to Ottawa and British Columbia to participate in national slam competitions. These experiences led to the creation of Marvelous Mouthy Mondays, an all-ages monthly spoken word event in Dartmouth.

At the national competitions, Zinck says that in the youth slams, it was really obvious other young performers had been slamming for a lot longer than the youth in Halifax. He wanted to give Halifax kids the chance to get on public stages to perform spoken word and slam.

"It takes a lot of exposure to the art form to gain some competency in it," says Zinck, and "most of the slam scene tends to happen in bars and pubs in Halifax."

For the few semi-public spaces youth are able to perform, such as at school or in a library, there's a content filter. That's not the case at MMM, says Zinck. He "wanted to let people be free."

Another factor Zinck considered when starting MMM was the location. "I know Halifax people don't like crossing the bridge," he says. "But going over to Halifax can be very intimidating for teenagers in Dartmouth who are still finding their way around. I guess it was just really out of a desire to foster the scene locally, as in Dartmouth."

So far there have been three MMM spoken word events, all at the Garden View restaurant on Main Street in Dartmouth. Zinck is committed to running nine more.

"I want to run it for a year and see how I can grow it," he says. "My hope is that it gets some momentum...and then it will just kind of cruise on its own."

By the end of the year, Zinck hopes to see 50 to 100 regular attendees fill the space. He'd also like to see it develop to become a true all-ages event. At past events, the majority of people have been high school students and a few participants in their 20s to 40s.

Older and younger crowds are welcome too---Zinck especially likes seeing first-time poets. "That's what it's all about for me, when you see somebody going to the open mic and they read something for the first time," he says, "and you can just see them get a taste of that fire."

This month's event will be a poetry sharing circle, happening on December 19th. The venue is still tentative, but will be posted on its Facebook group (search Marvelous Mouthy Mondays). Next month's January 30th event will be back at the Garden View for an open mic and slam.

For Emily MacLean, a grade 12 student and winner of last month's slam competition and a $100 prize, her MMM experience was the first time she performed in a public, all-ages venue. She's been involved with spoken word at Dartmouth High for three years and was often frustrated she couldn't go to the 19+ events happening in the city.

Tori Judd, a grade 10 student from Cole Harbour High, tasted the poetry fire for the first time at the October event.

"It was terrifying," says Judd. "But everyone was really supportive."

Judd says she found out about spoken word from people coming to her school to perform, and she fell in love with it. "It's just awesome," she says, laughing. "I love making noise on stage. I like dancing, I like acting and I love this because I've always been in love with poetry."

Marvelous Mouthy Mondays, Monday, December 19 7:30pm, LOCATION TBD, $5

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