By Garreth Arenburg-Duchesne

This year’s Canadian Festival of Spoken Word (CFSW) took place in Guelph from October 13 – 19. As part of the festival, Guelph Arts Council partnered with Art Not Shame to run a F*ck Perfect workshop. This collaborative art-making experience is typically offered as a 13-week program that has been co-created by Michelle Peek founder of Art Not Shame, a non-profit community based arts organization in Guelph.

Michelle has a passion for both mental health advocacy and for the arts. When interviewing Michelle, I asked her what the values of the organizations are, she responded “one thing that’s really important for (Art Not Shame) is knowing that no space is truly safe for everyone, we strive for a safer space, a brave space, an anti-racist space, a space for all abilities, genders, sexualities, body shapes and sizes, and above all space to practice radical self-love where we can learn and un-learn together.”

Michelle Peek. Founder of Art Not Shame, a non-profit community based arts organization in Guelph.
Photo credit, Nik MacMillan

People can support the program by donating  and buying F*ck Perfect merchandise. When I asked what to expect from the program she said, “they can expect to do a bunch of fun sh*t together, imperfectly. They can expect that we will try to make a brave space together and we won’t do it right. And I hope they explore their relationship with perfectionism.” During the program you can anticipate to have guest speakers, discover your way through a variety of art mediums, work on what you want to do, and have the opportunity to show it off.  Next F*ck Perfect program begins on Nov 18.

F*ck Perfect was one of many workshops, events, and programs offered throughout CFSW. This year’s festival theme was “Discovery.” This theme speaks to “the story within us”, focusing on peoples’ personal stories and lives, and giving fresh perspectives on a variety of topics. The Poets of Honor this year were Patrick de Belen and Mahlikah Awe:ri, Enml’ga’t Saqama’sgw (The Woman Who Stands and Walks In The Light). Patrickde Belen is a celebrated Toronto-based Filipino-Canadian Poet/Host/Speaker/Educator. Mahlikah Awe:ri is another celebrated Cultural Arts Leader, Community Engaged Arts Education Practitioner, Eco-Influencer, Slam Poet, Musician, Curator, and Performance Artist. Both are extremely talented poets with innovative and lovely pieces of work.

This year’s CFSW Poetry Slam Champion is Up From the Root, a returning winner from 2018. Up From the Root entertainment comprises of poets, Desiree McKenzie, Dwayne Morgan, Mehul Edward Martin, Joshua Scribe Watkis, and Shelly Grace. Dwayne Morgan help to establish CFSW and started Up From the Root in 1994 to promote the positive artistic contributions of African Canadian and urban influenced artists. These extremely talented young poets absolutely deserve this award and recognition as a group and as individual poets.

Up From the Roots slam poetry champions
This year’s CFSW Poetry Slam Champion, Up From the Root.
 left to right, Desiree McKenzie, Dwayne Morgan, Mehul Edward Martin, Joshua Scribe Watkis, Shelly Grace.
Photo credit, from CFSW Facebook taken by Beth Anne Ellipsis

Bio pic Garreth
Author Garreth Arenburg-Duchesne. Photo credit, Alexis Mimacho (Instagram)

About the author: My name is Garreth Arenburg-Duchesne, I am the new grade 12 Co-op student at Guelph Arts Council. I am currently attending Guelph C.V.I and have a deep passion for the arts. The arts have allowed me to express myself in ways other mediums couldn’t. I’m excited to be working with the lovely people at Guelph Arts Council and the folks working at 10C Shared Space.

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