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Nanaimo’s WordStorm holds first online spoken-word open mic night

Society has started presenting virtual events in response to COVID-19 restrictions
Poet Johnny Murdoch MacRae performs during WordStorm Society of the Arts’s Dispatches and Rumblings Cam Slam event on April 23. The local spoken word group has started holding events online in response to COVID-19. (Facebook screen shot)

Nanaimo’s WordStorm Society of the Arts is resuming its Metaphorically Speaking open mic series this week, and for the first time the event will take place over the internet.

When gatherings were banned and social distancing measures put in place to combat the spread of COVID-19, WordStorm responded by moving its events online. In April the group presented a virtual poetry ‘Cam Slam’ and an online poetry workshop.

“The people that were familiar with the technology had no problem navigating it and so we had some good reception around that,” WordStorm artistic director Carla Stein said. “And I think as people are getting more and more used to the technology and the way it works, that it’s not nearly as intimidating as one might think.”

On June 4 WordStorm presents the first online edition of Metaphorically Speaking. The open mic event will be held via the teleconferencing platform Zoom. Stein said they are aiming to present the event the same way it would normally proceed if it were held at its regular venue.

“Even when we were doing things live we were pretty flexible if somebody decided halfway through the evening that they had the courage to come up to the open mic,” she said. “We never said ‘no’ and we won’t with the virtual performance either.”

Stein said so far WordStorm’s online events have gone over well and that the virtual format doesn’t greatly impact the performance.

“Obviously the ambience is different because everybody is in their own space and depending on what space they’re in things are going to look different from frame to frame when you’re in a Zoom room,” Stein said. “But other than that … I think people’s attitudes and their presentation are pretty much the same. It’s been really remarkable so far how welcoming people have been.”

WHATS ON … Metaphorically Speaking virtual open mic takes place via Zoom on Thursday, June 4 at 7 p.m. Link will be posted on WordStorm Facebook page at 6 p.m. Sign up by e-mailing

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