SPEAKout’s journey began in December 2008 when a small group of youth bent on having a positive impact on their community met at a youth retreat focusing on community work. The aim was to inspire, entertain and educate the community by highlighting points of overlap through purposeful and meaningful entertainment.
After months of experimentation with different artistic venues, they attempted at hosting a spoken word poetry slam competition for rising local talent. It was called SPEAKout Poetry and the first slam was held on July 24th 2009 at Ryerson University’s Rogers Communication Centre. The event proved a great success and served as a launching pad for emerging local poets. Spoken word as an art form succeeded in connecting hundreds of people from a variety of backgrounds.
Since that summer, SPEAKout has hosted six spoken word poetry slams (four in Toronto-GTA; one each in Kitchener and Hamilton) and two spoken word workshops. Over the years, this organization has become an alternative platform for established and up-and-coming spoken word artists. The team has discovered that spoken word is more than just entertainment. It is a powerful artistic tool that enables poets to use their words in a constructive, meaningful way. Spoken word engages an entire generation by giving strength to their voices to speak out and raise awareness of certain shared realities. In spoken word poetry we found the means to inspire, entertain and educate while highlighting points of overlap that connects us all.
SPEAKout was founded upon three values that it strongly adheres to:
- Inspire Respect: No profanity, racial slurs, explicit or expletive sexual content is allowed in content and performance. Since all SPEAKout events are open to EVERYONE in the community, inclusive and culturally sensitive language is highly encouraged.
- Entertain withPurpose: There must be a message behind the verse. Similarly, spoken word goes beyond scribed words. It is more than just poetry. Spoken word is live and independent commentary for people, by people.
- Connect Community: Use your words to be the bridge that helps connect a mosaic of people by striving to find overlap or similarities between communities. We believe words are the bridge between heart and hand; that the first change that takes place is in the heart and mind. Poetry is not the end, it is just the beginning.
As SPEAKout looks into the future, it hopes to expand and create different artistic platforms for established and emerging artists. It is our hope that through these expressive venues our poets will continue to nurture their skills and utilize their talents to advocate for communities to find shared common grounds for dialogue and peace; to foster understanding and establish a common framework to build healthy and diverse communities together.
Who we are
SPEAKout has evolved and grown with the hard work and support of its team members. The group is comprised of young, ambitious individuals coming from diverse educational and cultural backgrounds. Each individual brings to the team an eclectic mix of skill sets, experiences and knowledge. These people make up a beautiful whole that is SPEAKout.
The team is devoted to what it does and loves to extend this shared passion with EVERYONE. This breadth of diversity is reflected in SPEAKout events, which are open to everyone in the community and are attended by an ever growing audience