He may not be hitting the trails in mountain biking competitions like he was a few years ago, but Squamish native Mo Lawrence is attacking verbs and adjectives with a similar intensity.
The Howe Sound Secondary School (HSSS) grad is making a name for himself in the world of slam poetry and returned home on Sunday (Jan. 20) to help host a slam poetry workshop and showcase at the Squamish Public Library.
Lawrence said the afternoon went well and said he hopes to build interest in slam poetry in Squamish.
"The turnout was excellent and I think it went really well today," he said. "In the workshop, we went over the history of spoken word and did a few writing activities and then moved on to the showcase."
He said he's always been interested in words and writing and he put it all together when he won the Vancouver Youth Poetry Slam in 2011 with his poem entitled "Mystique". From there, he became more and more involved in the Vancouver poetry scene and now helps run poetry wordplay classes in local schools while also attending UBC.
Lawrence performed three poems in the showcase, including the popular "I Want To Buy A Sloth With You" – which has picked up close to 3,000 views on YouTube.
Squamish resident Ryan Deasley, who attended the workshop and participated in the showcase, said he enjoyed the afternoon.
"It was a lot of fun," he said. "I know Mo personally, so it was really cool to see him in his own element."
Deasley said he's been interested in poetry for the last five years and this event gave him a chance to get the creative juices flowing and overcome any nerves.
"You just need to put yourself out there," he said. "No one judges you and you shouldn't worry if you're good enough."
Former Team Canada basketball player and Squamish resident Ransford Brempong attended the event and performed a poem based on a close call to death he had while swimming in the ocean on a trip with the team.
"It was awesome," he said of the workshop and showcase, noting he's been writing poetry seriously for the last three years. "From being fairly new to Squamish, I've found that you have to make an effort to connect with different groups. It was a good chance to learn something and meet new people."
Lawrence said he thinks the potential is there to grow interest in slam poetry in Squamish.
"It's possible, but it can be pretty difficult for kids out here," he said, noting that there were no buses running on the day of the event. "It takes a bit of work, but I think it's totally possible."
Deasley agreed, saying that more awareness of events like this in local media could make a difference.
"What really needs to be done is to really emphasize that everyone is welcome," he said.
Lawrence offered a few tips for aspiring local poets.
"Keep working on it and read a lot," he said. "Everyone is super nice in the spoken word community, so I'd say don't give up and keep working on it."
Library officials praised organizers of the event and said they hope to be able to run similar events in the future. The Vancouver Poetry Slam runs showcases every Monday at Café Deaux Soleils, but locals can take part in a poetry circle at Quest University on Sundays at 4 p.m. in the Library building.
For more information on slam poetry, visit www.vancouverpoetryhouse.com.