Assistant News Editor
Even though a slam poetry competition may suggest to some the makings of a failed WWE pitch, it currently serves as one of the most progressive forms of modern poetry. McMaster poet Oskar Niburski knows this better than most, as he recently slammed on the national stage.
From Oct. 11 to 14, Oskar Niburski, a second year Arts and Science student, 2010 winner of McMaster’s Poetry and Creative Writing Society’s Annual Contest, and Poetry Club Executive member, competed in the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, the premier event for Canadian spoken word poets.
As part of the Burlington Slam Project, Niburski and fellow teammates went as far as the semi-finals and ultimately scored fifth out of twenty teams from across the nation.
Based in Toronto, the spoken word competition saw teams from Halifax to Victoria. In three bouts of four rounds, each team was given three minutes to say their poems, and five randomly selected judges scored the teams from a range of zero to ten. Poems could either be performed individually or with a teammate.
While Niburski’s national success stands as a testament of both the vibrancy and progression of poetry in Canada, he admits that he wasn’t always the mental-muscled poetic pencil pusher he is now.
“Before, I was boring,” Niburski said in an interview. “Now, I’m boring with poetry.”
Joking as he may be, Niburski’s poetic beginnings were quite accidental.
Inspired by Shane Koyczan, specifically his “We Are More” address at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, Niburski’s poetic aspirations began to swell.
Yet he claims that, “while I was most definitely influenced by other poets, I sat on my creativity like a person on a gold mine.”
But his creativity did not sit idle for long because a year later, Niburski’s pen dug until it struck gold.
“Like all university students do, I was procrastinating studying calculus. Then, all of a sudden, I had idea and I couldn’t stop writing. Driven by the perplexing nature of math, I wrote a poem called, ‘Mental Math’.”
Soon after, he presented the poem at an Arts and Science “Kaffehaus” event, where he received appraisal from students and faculty alike.
His poetic passion only grew with each performance, “because on the microphone, it didn’t matter who I was, what I’ve done, or where I’ve been,” Niburski said. “All that mattered was that moment and, more importantly, what I chose to do in that moment. So I spoke, and oddly enough, people listened.”
“Listen” as they may, Niburski plans to continue his poetic aspirations. Next year, he plans to compete in Saskatoon where the 2011 festival will be held.