On May 31, 2022, Kegedonce Press will release a remarkable new poetry collection, a collaboration with the Toronto International Festival of Authors (TIFA) and Festival of the Peripheries (FLUP), titled Slam Coalkan Performance Poetry: The Condor and the Eagle Meet. In 2021, 17 Indigenous spoken-word artists from Abya Yala (South America) and Turtle Island (North America) were invited by TIFA in Toronto, Canada, and Festival of the Peripheries (FLUP) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to participate in a virtual edition of Slam Coalkan. This project, funded by the Canada Council for the Arts, was created to allow Indigenous poets from across the Americas to meet and share ideas, dreams and aspirations for the future, through two slam performances and a series of roundtables around the importance of storytelling. TIFA then reached out to Kegedonce Press to have the performers’ works published in an English-language anthology.
Slam Coalkan is curated by poets Jennifer Alicia Murrin of Toronto and Renata Tupinambá of São Paulo. The festivals’ directors, Roland Gulliver (TIFA) and Julio Ludemir (FLUP) have each contributed an afterword reflecting on this extraordinary cross-continental collaboration. Digitally enhanced with QR codes, Slam Coalkan links readers to videos of the poets’ performances at the FLUP and TIFA festivals.
The two Slam Coalkan competitions and the resulting anthology evoke an ancient Indigenous prophecy called coalkan, in which South America is represented by the Condor and North America, the Eagle. The prophecy states: The day will come when the Eagle and the Condor will fly together in the same sky, wing to wing, and the world will come into balance. The poetry of Slam Coalkan speaks out against the evils of colonialism, racism, transphobia and genocide.
The artwork on the book’s visually stunning cover is by Philip Cote III and Gustavo Caboco, with design by Chantal Lalonde and Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm.
Tyler Pennock, award-winning author of Bones, writes of Slam Coalkan: “This collection is an invitation, a re-focusing, and a collaboration long overdue. Persistent and affirming, the poets pull our gaze away from centered norms of power, empire, and colony. In this, every poem is a world, unique to the storyteller, diverse and full, maintained as living response to the brutality of oppression. Every page is necessary and compelling – an awakening, and a ‘body that transmutes hate in song.’”
Slam Coalkan will have its official launch at an in-person and online event at Glad Day Bookshop in Toronto on June 21 at 7pm ET. Contributor and editor Jennifer Alicia Murrin will participate and the event will be moderated by Tyler Pennock.