The Urban Legends Poetry Slam started by Ian Keteku and Suhaib Ibn Najib in 2009. It was created because, at the time, there was only one slam in the scene that ran out of a bar and Muslim audiences were unable to attend. It was developed as only a slam by the first two organizers because they wanted to compete on a national level at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word (CFSW). They created a unique show format and it is the only of its kind in Canada as there is no microphone and we perform in a circular stage. Upon its creation, Urban Legends ran out of a classroom at Carleton as gorilla/grass roots (with no reservation, they ran the show in an empty classroom). In its first year, the first ever Urban Legends team placed second at CFSW showing Canada that it was an important scene.
Ian and Suhaib had created a new show in Ottawa but with their own artistic careers and commitments, they were forced to step down. Sergio Guerra (Hyf the Gypsy Sun), Sean O’Gorman, and Sarah Musa took the reins in 2010. They ran the show successfully for two years but sadly Sarah’s studies, Sean’s adventure to teach English in South Korea and Hyf for personal reasons were no longer able to continue the tradition. The director roles were then taken up by Jamaal Jackson Rogers and Xaamud Macalinkiisa (Sensesay) in 2012. Jamaal innovated the show by moving to the Pit in the Architecture building at Carleton and changing the vibe to a less competitive nature. However, Jamaal stepped down to pursue his own art endeavours and Xaamud moved to Calgary.
The mantle was thus taken on by current directors Khaleefa Hamdan (Apollo the Child) and Panos Argyropoulos (Playto) in 2014. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, attendance began to dwindle and poets began to leave the scene. We saw this as an important thing to continue so we evolved and changed the whole look and vibe of Urban Legends to be more community, less competition while keeping many of the old traditions. We decided to really build upon the philosophy instilled by Jamaal and really make Urban Legends a spoken word collective and not just a slam. We have incorporated Poetry and Pancakes in our line up and are in the process of organizing our first writing circle. We also have poetry movie nights in the process. This has proved to be successful as our other events have been getting a good reception. It has also fostered a better relationship in the community.