Monday, February 21, 2011

Fireside Chat with... Chris Gilpin!

It's a big week for poetry in Victoria! The irrepressible Chris Gilpin features at ToF this Thursday, which also just happens to coincide with the Victoria Festival of Spoken Word which runs through to Saturday night, followed by an Achievers Agency show featuring Tanya Davis and Mary Pinkoski! So we sat down with Gilpin, cuz first things first, right?

Triple Threat match between Bob Barker, Happy Gilmore and yourself. Who would win?

Well, Bob Barker neutered my soul down at the crossroads, so I'd like to say I'd get my revenge in such a match, but there's something so damn mythical about that orange-skinned man. I believe he already belongs to the undead and would be unbeatable. Happy Gilmore would probably be too high to care. I'd feed him to Bob and flee.

Tell us a bit about the myriad collaborative projects you have on the go...?

I work with RC Weslowski and Brendan Mcleod in Awesome Face, a kids show for adults. It's a place where we put all our craziest ideas, some work, some don't, but it's never boring. We have big plans, nothing I can be too specific about right now.

RC and I also work with Spillious in a side project we call Iron Long John. It actually might be weirder than Awesome Face. Last time we did a show was centered around inter-species love, people having romantic and sexual relationships with objects.

There've also been numerous one-off collabs with other artists. I like working with other poets and musicians, and pushing beyond the slam. Speaking of which, does anyone know of a guitarist who could play porn-style funk guitar for one poem on Thursday?

Let's slap a label on you: Poet? Performer? Spoken Word Artist? Slam Poet?

I'm a strong proponent of the term Spoken Word, although I'm happily be referred to as simply a poet. A Slam Poet is still something that deep down I don't believe exists, just as I don't believe slam poetry exists, if you really think about it. Slam is a forum, not a genre.

Having said that, Slam Poet has a generally positive connotation these days. When teachers email me asking for slam poets, I know that they want exciting spoken word poets to come in and amaze their students. So if you call me a "Slam Poet", I'll take it as a compliment, while in my head, translating that comment to "poet-who-doesn't-suck".

And let's take that label off (cuz labels aren't nice): now who are you? How do you see yourself in the world?

I am Doctor WTF?! looking to trace the absurdities of the world around me.

How did you feel the first time you stepped up a mic to read what you had written? How long ago was that?

I started performing in earnest in December 2005 at the Vancouver Poetry Slam. It was great. I was hooked right away.

What's the next poetry-related goal you want to fulfill?

I want to write something as good as Al Mader's "Problems in a Box"

Can you tell us about the poem you haven't written yet?

Not really. But I will say that I've been brushing up on my iambic pentameter lately. For realsies.

What are the subjects that really engage you?

It changes, but lately the Culture Wars, and the dogma associated with them, on all sides, has been a recurrent subject.

We run your poetry through the ice-cream maker: what flavour do we get at the business end?


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