I’m a lot of things. The I statement making flesh machine, who’s finite consciousness my sense of self inhabits, defines itself in a lot of ways. I’m a Canadian by birth and a poet by stubborn insistence. Each has it’s own complicated definition and where the two overlap is different for everyone. So for me, what it means to be a Canadian poet is be an outsider, surrounded by other outsiders, arm in arm carving an important niche in the shadow of giants. The obvious shadow of America and the omnipresent shadow of the real world; because poets don’t like to live there. The real world is full of grant writing, admin work, rejection letters and more often than not, day jobs.
On top of all that I’m a spoken word poet. My work is meant to be heard, it is meant to be said by my voice and I very commonly bring this work to compete in poetry slams. These slams happen across Canada and all over the United States so national identity plays a large part in the work, it has to. So much of poetry is about expressing the finding of oneself and our identity, this includes national identity. Canadian culture tends to define itself in opposition to America but more often I see Canadian poets painting a canvas of immigrant stories and reconciliation with a bloody colonialist past.
There is a sense of freedom living unnoticed in the shadows. Most of the poets spinning, spitting and expressing all over the pages and stages in this country will never make a living doing what they love. So we can do whatever we want, away from judging eyes. This freedom in obscurity has let me experiment in tone, topic and expression. A lot of the exciting new Canadian poetry I see is poets doing just that, experimenting. I feel, dare I say, patriotic when Canadian spoken word poetry is called weird, different, or odd. I’ve always felt different, preferred to see something rough that I’d never seen before than something polished that was familiar and comfortable.
You can tell a person where you are from, where your family has come from or always been and they’ll understand you. Put that story in a poem, craft your words well and then they can feel what you feel. Being a Canadian and a poet is a privilege; even if it means sharing weird stuff in giant shadows, at least we all get to know how each other feel.
Hailing from Windsor, Ontario, where in 2015 he founded the Windsor Poetry Slam. Matt Loeb is a Spoken Word artist who’s poetry ranges from candid honesty to biting satire. A finalist at the 2014 Canadian Individual Poetry Slam he later went on to make semi-finals with a last minute “Wild Card” team at the 2014 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. A prolific writer Matt has performed almost 100 different poems in slam poetry competitions making him one of only a few poets in North America to achieve this. His nerd themed poetry has also been featured on popular sci-fi blog i09. Matt regularly hosts the Vancouver Poetry Slam, and writes the webcomic Brain Thought Word Say.