Accessibility and CapSlam

The organizers of Capital Slam take issues around accessibility very seriously and with recent concerns about our venues coming to light, I wanted to explain the situation and talk about the challenges surrounding it.

This is a serious issue for us as we believe that slam is only slam when it is freely open to everyone. The problems we have had finding a good venue have been numerous and we are committed to working until it is rectified. Acknowledging a problem is only the first step to actually finding a solution.

Let me say right up front that I can’t claim that we have ALWAYS treated accessibility as a priority. This is not something I am proud of, but the reality was that we had a venue that we really liked. We knew it was terrible for accessibility but never took steps to correct it.

That is on us. Straight up.

As summer wrapped up this year we found ourselves without a venue, with very little notice. We had to scramble to find a replacement, and fast.

The first thing I did was make a list of absolute requirements for the new venue. It was a short list. One of the items on it was that the venue MUST be accessible. After going so long with one that was not, I did not want to get ensconced in that same situation again. (To show HOW short this list was, we are now in a venue with no sound system. That was not considered a high enough priority to make the list.)

The first thing I discovered in my search is how few decent venues this city has for a regular show. Everything was either too expensive, inaccessible, overbooked or some combination of those. We delayed our season because we couldn’t find a venue that filled those requirements on such short notice.

We thought we found a perfect venue in Cafe Nostalgica. Unfortunately the ‘too expensive’ part reared its head as the management gave us a trial run but decided that our crowd was not spending enough money there to make it financially viable for them. For us to top up their revenue enough, we would have been bankrupt within two months. The venue was nearly perfect (the stage was still inaccessible), but we cannot pay $400+ for a venue twice a month.

Cafe Alt was on our previous short list and when I asked about accessibility I was told by the management there that it is ‘absolutely’ accessible.

We held a show there. Things seemed okay (one of our judges was in a wheelchair and I asked if they had any problem getting in and they said no), but after the Director investigated the required route to get in, they did not feel comfortable calling the venue accessible because issues related to the length of the route and the lack of clarity in indicating the accessible way in.

We have a different venue for our show on the 21st (due to a scheduling conflict at Cafe Alt), so we are at Origin Studio. When I asked about accessibility I was told ‘it will be accessible by then’. (Keeping in mind that this is a brand new venue, so they are still getting things the way they want them.) I decided not to announce it as an accessible venue because while I believe them that the intention is to have accessibility in line by our show, I also think that the one thing worse than an inaccessible venue is one that you are TOLD is accessible and is not. After the problems with Cafe Alt, I am not going to announce it is accessible until that is confirmed.

In short – we are still looking. We consider Cafe Alt our transitory home… as in, it is where we will have our shows until we can find something that better suits our needs, and that big unfilled need is better accessibility.


CapSlam feat. Truth Is…!


We are back from CFSW and ready to SLAM!

The National Championships were as exciting, motivating, inspiring as always with Saskatoon both hosting and taking top honours.

CapSlam is back in the house and ready to continue the trek to CFSW 2016 in Winnipeg!

It isn’t all about the accolades, though, as people share their art and share their truth and nobody shares their truth more than our feature TRUTH IS…!

Truth Is… is correctly called an important voice in the National scene. (Those who remember Komi Olaf’s painting from our old home at the Mercury Lounge, the face of Truth Is… was right up there alongside Shane Koyczan and Ian Keteku…)

Truth is in Ottawa to drop wisdom and broaden minds and CapSlam is the place to be!

Doors and slam sign-up are at 6:30. $8 and free for performers. All ages welcome. Accessible (though somewhat confusing access, unfortunately).

See you at Cafe Alt!

CapSlam ReCap


CapSlam took over Cafe Alt for another night of poetry pugilism in a faux fight of artistic assault.

But don’t let the virtual violence fool you – it is all love and art!

Sarah Ruszala played ringleader as she introduced a neophyte on the open mic… Megan! With a rousing chorus of ‘COME BACK!’ we then moved on to the slam itself.

Of course, we can’t have a slam without a little sacrificial bordeaux spilled and Sarah did the honours herself! 8.6 8.1 8.9 9.9 7.3 – 25.6

Five poets tossed their names in the non-proverbial hat and the first to be drawn out was Omar Saghir! 8.9 8.6 8.4 9.7 9.1 – 26.6

Next up was the second member of the CapSlam team to tai the stage (Sarah was the first), Billie the Kid! 8.7 8.6 9.1 9.4 8.0 – 26.4

The midpoint of the round was the third team member, Rusty Priske! 9.2 8.9 TEN TEN 9.5 – 28.7!

He was followed by new CPC regular, Word Witch! 8.6 9.6 8.8 9.6 9.0 – 27.4

The round wrapped up with the standings leader, Blue! 9.6 TEN 9.3 TEN 8.9 – 28.9!

After a short break we were then regaled with the poetry / rants / humour / ramblings of (yes)tefania! A member of the reigning CFSW Championship team, she showed there was a lot more to her than a trophy!

Then we cam back for another round of slam!

Billie the Kid was first back, but she went 3:15 for a .5 time penalty. 8.4 9.1 9.5 8.9 8.7 – 26.2

Next was the return of Word Witch! 8.5 8.2 8.4 9.5 8.4 – 26.3

The leader after Round one, Blue was next! 9.5 9.0 9.2 TEN 8.9 – 27.7

The penultimate poet of the night was (appropriately) Rusty Priske! 9.2 8.8 TEN TEN 9.5 – 28.7!

We wrapped things up with Omar Saghir, who went 3:12 for a .5 time penalty)! 8.5 8.7 8.9 TEN 9.0 – 26.1

Final Results

1. Rusty Priske – 57.4
2. Blue – 56.6
3. Word Witch – 53.7
4. Omar Saghir – 52.7
5. Billie the Kid – 52.6

Next up… all this coming week, Sarah, Billie and Rusty are joined by Nina Vuleta and DMP, representing CapSlam at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in Saskatoon!

Then, three weeks form now on Nov. 7th, CapSlam is back at Cafe Alt with superstar feature, Truth Is…!!

Capital Slam feat. (yes)tefania!

Two slams into the new season and things are really cooking!

We ARE shifting venues, so make sure you join us at Cafe Alt, still on the University of Ottawa campus.

We have an amazing feature joining us from Toronto… poetry superstar, (yes)tefania!

(yes)tefania is a very accomplished young poet who was a member of the 2014 National Slam Championship team at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word!

Big thanks to the City of Ottawa for helping to make it possible for us to bring in amazing talent like (yes)tefania!

The slam has been rocking… the feature will be stellar… how could you miss this?

Doors and sign-up at 6:30. All ages welcome. $8 and free for poets who sign up!

Cafe Alt is in the basement of Simard Hall (fully accessible) at 60 University on the Uof Ottawa campus.

Open Call For Volunteers

The Capital Poetry Collective is looking for volunteers to help us promote and run Capital Slam and Ottawa Youth Poetry Slam. As a volunteer, you are supporting and participating in a vibrant arts community. Plus, you get into the slam for free!

You can volunteer to:

  • host a show
  • keep score
  • time poems
  • run signup
  • be the sacrificial poet
  • put up posters

If you want support poetry in Ottawa, get your high school volunteer hours, or see some free poetry, email us at 

Capital Slam Recap #2


Our seonc slam of the season, a mere week after the kick-off, and once again… new faces… new voices… new venue…. NEW LIFE!

Rusty hit the stage at Cafe Nostalgica to open up the Open Mic portion of the show and a CapSlam fave rocked out – Mayhem!

A last minute swap then had Rusty sharing a poem for the crowd!

Then it was time for the slam and an Open Micer last week became the Sac Poet this week: Oakley! 9.5 9.2 8.2 8.0 8.4 – 25.8

Big range!

Then Rusty pulled out his magic hat to get the slam itself under way!

First up… CPC Director and CapSlam team member, Sarah Ruszala! 8.9 9.5 9.1 8.5 9.0 – 27.0

Next up was last week’s winner… Blue! 9.4 9.4 8.9 9.7 9.4 – 28.2!

Next was yet another newcomer to the CapSlam stage…. Liz Clarke! 9.8 9.5 9.5 9.0 9.4 – 28.4!

Next we had a member of the Urban Legends team! Infinite Mind! 9.7 9.6 9.5 7.8 9.1 – 28.2

Another CapSlam team member hit the stage next – DMP! 9.9 9.7 8.0 9.8 9.3 – 28.8!

We wrapped up the round with Lazy Hero! 9.3 9.1 9.2 8.4 8.9 – 27.2

Then we had a break (where people took the opportunity to order from Cafe Nostalgica’s yummy menu!) before coming back for an AMAZING FEATURE!!!!

King Kimbit and Rational Rebel have put together a set with music and poetry running back and forth with panache! It was a great treat to have them share on our stage! Superb!

Then it was back to the slam!

First up… DMP! 9.5 9.2 9.0 9.7 9.6 – 28.3

Daniel had the lead after the first round… would it hold up?

Next was Sarah Ruszala! 8.9 9.6 7.3 9.4 8.9 – 27.2

Then came Liz Clarke, who rocked the mic… but ran 4:05 for a 3 point penalty. 9.3 9.7 9.6 9.8 9.3 – 25.6

Lazy Hero was next! 9.2 9.5 8.5 9.2 9.0 – 27.4

The penultimate poet was Infinite Mind! 9.7 9.4 9.8 9.7 9.2 – 28.8!

We finished off with Blue! 9.2 8.8 9.2 9.0 9.1 – 27.3

Final Results

1. DMP – 57.1
2. Infinite Mind – 57.0
3. Blue – 55.5
4. Lazy Hero – 54.6
5. Sarah Ruszala – 54.2
6. Liz Clarke – 54.0 (the time penalty dropped her from 2nd)

Next up, on Oct. 17th, (yes)tefania!

Capital Slam New Season ReCap #1


A new season, a new home, and a whole mess of new poets!

After being at Mercury Lounge for so long, switching to Cafe Nostalgica was bound to seem a little odd at first…. but the staff there were so welcoming that we felt at home right away!

Did it feel a little different? Sure, but change is good and it felt like time for a new beginning!

(Of course everyone really missed the presence of DJ RPM spinning tunes… right? Right? Anyone?)

(All right, so Rusty missed DJ RMP spinning tunes…)

(I still got to host, though…)

As always, we kicked off with an Open Mic. First up was a newcomer to CapSlam (a common theme tonight), Sajeepam! He was the first of FIVE new voices on our stage!

The second Open Micer was Oakley, who returned after a lengthy absence!

Great to have both of you sharing with us!

Then it was time for the slam, but as Sarah was quick to point out, we needed some sacrificial blood first! Rusty turned to the Urban Legend, Playto! 8.8 7.0 8.7 7.2 8.7 – 24.6

The bar was set, the judges were practiced, the host was rambling so it was time to dip into the magic hat!

First up was a last minute addition to the slam, Limitless! 8.9 8.9 8.9 7.8 8.8 – and the first of FOUR time penalties on the night. He went 3:17 and ended at 26.1

New voice followed by new voice as Lazy Hero hit the mic! 9.3 8.6 8.8 8.0 8.9 – 26.3

We went from new to CPC Director as Sarah Ruszala was called up! 9.6 9.4 9.2 8.6 9.2 – 27.8

Next was another new voice…. though she CLEARLY had done some slamming somewhere else. (Turns out it was Edmonton. Shout out to Breath In Poetry!) BLUE! (Not that one…) TEN TEN TEN 9.5 9.5 – 29.5!!

Next was a CapSlam debut, but someone who has been performing at CPC SummerSlam shows, Word Witch! 8.6 7.8 8.6 8.6 8.9 – 25.8

We wrapped up the first round with yet another new CapSlammer, Gabe! 8.9 9.1 8.9 9.2 9.1 – 27.1

After a short break, Lukayo Estrella gave us a great feature set, which doubled as their very first poetry video launch party… and tripled as their new website launch party! Check it out at!

Great set! Great poetry! great person!

Then we were back at it for round 2 of the slam! Blue had a commanding lead, but would it hold?

First up in the second round was Lazy Hero! 8.9 7.0 9.8 9.0 8.7 – 26.6

Sarah Ruszala joined the time penalty brigade by going 3:19 with her second poem. 9.4 9.2 9.5 9.3 9.2 – 27.4 (after a .5 deduction.)

Next was Gabe…. who absolutely blew the room away. Pure power and emotion. Amazing. TEN TEN TEN 9.9 TEN…. but thy went 3:47 to end at 28.0

Nobody cared about the score at that point.

Limitless had the unenviable task of following Gabe (by his own admission). 8.6 8.3 8.8 8.9 9.0 – 26.3

Blue also got a big time penalty. They went 3:52 for a 2.5 point deduction… but the scores were up to the challenge. TEN 9.9 TEN 9.9 TEN – 27.4

We finished up with a second poem by Word Witch. 9.1 7.6 8.9 8.9 8.9 – 26.7

The announced standings were a little messed up (fire the scorekeeper!), but here are the actual results…

(just kidding about firing the scorekeeper… never fire volunteers…) 🙂

1. Blue – 56.9
2. Sarah Ruszala – 55.2
3. Gabe – 55.1
4. Lazy Hero – 52.9
5. Word Witch – 52.5
6. Limitless – 52.4

We are back at Cafe Nostalgica in ONE SHORT WEEK as we host KING KIMBIT and RATIONAL REBEL on October 3rd!

Capital Slam Season Opener – Sept. 26th!

This is the big news!!

Starting this season, Capital Slam has a new home!


We have been fans of this venue ever since they rebuilt it. YouthCanSlam did some bouts there and it was very clear that it is a great room for Spoken Word.


MORE BONUSES – You can now get something to eat while enjoying poetry at our shows! Woot!

The show itself stays the same… we start sign-up at 6:30 and the show runs 7:15-10pm. It is still $8 to enter and free for performers.

It is still the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month… starting in October.

We had a slight scheduling issue this month so the season will kick-off on the 4th Saturday of the month… September 26th.

That means it will be a SIX WEEK GAP between CPC run slams so I KNOW people will be ready to throw down!

On top of all THAT, our feature will be the super-amazing, awesomely-talented FESTRELL!!!

And word is, he will be debuting a brand new video at the show!

BIG NEWS! One of the oldest slams in the country, reborn!

Cafe Nostalgica is at 601 Cumberland St, just off Laurier on the University of Ottawa campus.



As the summer draws to a close so does this season of the CPC Summer Slam and we wrapped things up with a feature by the full 2015 CapSlam team!

But with all those poets featuring, who was going to slam? The Urban Legends team stepped up (minus ApolloTheChild who had a VERY important prior engagement!).

Four members of the 2015 UL team signed up, along with the Word Witch!

Rusty launched into the show without warning, dropping the origin of every poem, before giving way to Jenny, who rocked the open mic.

Soon, the audience was calling for blood and Sarah Ruszala stepped up to be our noble sacrifice. 9.0 8.5 9.2 8.2 9.2 – 26.7

Note: there were some tough judges… but they were consistent and fair! Yeah for doing the tough job!

Then Rusty dipped into the magic hat as the poets came out for a 3-minute round.

First up was Dali! 8.0 7.0 9.5 7.0 7.8 – 22.8

Next was and old friend of CapSlam’s (and the new co-director of Urban Legends), Playto! 9.0 8.2 8.9 7.8 7.8 – 24.9

He was followed by the third UL team member, Girly-Boy! 8.8 8.7 9.2 7.0 7.9 – 25.4

Setting the bar was the FOURTH UL team member, Infinite Mind! 9.8 9.0 9.5 8.5 9.0 – 27.5!

We wrapped up with a new regular, Word Witch! 8.9 9.8 7.5 7.0 8.2 – 24.6

With followed the first round with a sneak peak of a play by DMP and Golbon, set to make its debut in October!

Then it was time for…. THE LIGHTNING ROUND!

INFINITE MIND! 8.8 9.0 9.2 8.2 8.0 – 26.0

WORD WITCH! 8.5 7.8 8.9 7.5 8.0 (but she went 1:29 for a 1 point penalty) – 23.3

PLAYTO! 8.6 8.0 8.7 8.0 7.9 (but he went 1:18 for a .5 penalty) – 24.1

GIRLY-BOY! 8.5 8.2 9.6 7.8 8.4 – 25.1

DALI! 8.5 7.9 9.2 7.8 8.4 – 24.8

After a break (where people had the opportunity to check out the CapSlam team mercy, like the chapbook and BRAND NEW CD!), the team hit the stage for a feature!

They shared some new team stuff… some solo stuff… some old stuff and some new stuff. There was even some surprise stuff.

It was fun.

Then it was back for ROUND THREE!

First out of the hat was the Word Witch! 9.5 8.7 8.8 8.0 8.5 – 26.0

Next up was the star of the slam (getting the highest score EVERY ROUND), Infinite Mind! 9.7 8.8 TEN 8.8 8.9 – 27.4

Next was (ahem) the ‘old guy’, Playto! 9.8 9.0 9.3 8.9 8.2 – 27.2

The penultimate poet of the night was Dali! 9.8 7.8 9.9 7.8 8.8 – 26.4

We wrapped up with Girly-Boy! 8.5 8.9 9.8 9.0 8.0 – 26.4


1. Infinite Mind – 80.9

2. Girly-Boy – 76.9

3. Playto – 76.2

4. Dali – 74.0

5. Word Witch – 73.9

Next up is the kick-off of the new CapSlam season! Sept. 5th we have a special feature / video debut by Lukayo Estrella, aka Festrell!

CPC Summer Slam


August is here and the champ is IN THE HOUSE!

But first, we had a full slate of Open Mic enthusiasts, starting with D-Zaster… who talked about a poem he was trying to write, rather than actually performing a poem. It will be about Killer Croc and it will be epic. Next time. 🙂

Next up was… Lord Voldemort! Luckily I wasn’t too scared to say her name as she made her poetic performance debut!

Next was Mayhem who covered… wait for… DAVID HASSELHOFF! The HOFF was HERE in the form of Mayhem!

Lastly, a member of the Urban Legends team this year, trying out a new stage name and making their CPC debut, Girly-Boy!

Then it was time for the Slam!

Our ever so unable host and recapped was also the Sac Poet for the evening as Rusty Priske gave a sneak peak at one of the poems he has written as part of the Comic/Poem Fundraising Project. Despite having trouble reading his own writing, he got… 9.0 8.3 8.5 TEN 9.6 – 27.1

The first name out of the hat full of actual slam competitors was a first-timer on our stage, Yasmine! 8.8 8.9 8.7 8.3 TEN – 26.4

Next up was a member of this year’s CapSlam team, DMP! 9.2 9.1 9.1 9.1 9.2 – 27.4

Next was another new voice to hit our stage, Aiko! 8.0 8.5 8.9 8.4 8.2 – 25.1

Next was the CPC Director and member of the CapSlam team, Sarah Ruszala! 9.5 9.5 9.7 TEN TEN – 29.2! Huge Score!

Finally we wrapped with another Urban Legends team member, Playto! 9.1 9.0 9.9 TEN TEN – 29.0!

Then we went straight into the one-minute LIGHTNING ROUND!

First up… Sarah Ruszala! 9.7 8.7 8.5 9.3 8.7 – 26.7

Next was DMP! TEN 8.1 9.5 9.6 9.4 – 28.5

The median poet of Round two was Playto! 9.8 8.6 9.6 9.7 9.6…BUT he went 1:17 for a .5 penalty. 28.4

The penultimate pre-break poet was Yasmine! 8.5 9.2 8.4 9.3 9.0 – 26.7

Lastly we wrapped up with Aiko! 8.5 8.5 9.0 8.7 7.9 – 25.7

Then it was break time… and some interesting shenanigans involving tinfoil… but then it was time for…


Nina is many, many things. A great poet, of course. But in addition she is the youngest ever member of a CapSlam team. She is certainly the youngest CapSlam Champ ever. She is the first woman to win the belt. And more…

And she showed why. She did a moving and wonderful set. The centrepiece was a great new six-minute poem about OCD that was just magic.


Then we finished up with the final slam round.

First up – Yasmine! 8.8 9.5 9.6 8.7 9.4 – 27.7

Then, Aiko! 8.5 8.7 8.9 TEN 8.1 – 26.1

Sarah Ruszala! 9.5 9.7 TEN TEN 9.2 – 29.2!

Playto! 8.8 9.5 9.8 9.0 9.5 – 28.0

Lastly, DMP! TEN 9.8 9.6 9.6 9.7… but he went 3:22 for a 1 point penalty. 28.1


1. Playto – 85.4
2. Sarah Ruszala – 85.1
3. DMP – 84.0
4. Yasmine – 80.8
5. Aiko – 76.9

Next up is the CapSlam / Urban Legends head-to-head slam on August 8th at Pressed Cafe!

Then, on August 15th, the final CPC Summer Slam of the season, featuring the CapSlam team!

Nina Vuleta, Rusty Priske, Billie the King, DMP, Sarah Ruszala!