On a Thursday, at a King Street West lounge in Toronto, Chela Paulino speaks in rhyme and meter.
“As a little girl I’d pretend to be something I wasn’t. I would wear scarves on my head to create the illusion of a pretty picture. Seeing my scarves now in today’s society opens my eyes as to why we choose to even create illusions,” Paulino recites.
Afterward, she explains that her poem, “Mentally Ill,” deals with obstacles and pressures of society to be and act a certain way.
“As children we were truly happy,” Paulino said in an interview. “As we grew older some of us seemed to desire a different reflection and a different mind. I mentioned in this piece my own struggles.”
Paulino works as a young spoken-word artist; she is also the creator of a poetry artist group she calls Poetic Justice. The group gathers every Thursday at Saviari Tea and Cocktail Lounge, 926 King St. W, to present spoken-word poetry to the lounge’s patrons.
Tanya Neumeyer is also a spoken-word artist and a member of the Canadian League of Poets. She defends the notion of young, novice poets using their spoken-word art as a tool of change.
“Spoken word is a really powerful tool for enabling self expression and through that process some really great personal transformation has come,” Neumeyer said.
She said that often young people feel detached from poetry if it just stays on the page.
“For the younger generations a lot of the students, that I’ve met in schools and at poetry slams, I think some of them think that poetry stays on the page and it is fairly inaccessible (trying) to uncover the meaning behind the metaphors.”
Paulino said poetry has helped her deal with her problems while expressing it in a beautiful form.
“It is a creative way for me to channel the way I feel and turn it into something beautiful so I can then share it with the rest of the world,” she said. “Poetry has helped me in many situations in my life. It is definitely my escape.”