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Massy Interviews / D Fretter

March 17 @ 12:00 pm March 31 @ 5:00 pm PDT

On Thursday, March 17 at 6pm, join Massy Arts, and Surrey-based poet/spoken word artist D Fretter for an in-person event to investigate poetry and its cathartic powers. “Discovery Poetry’, a hybrid between an open mic and a workshop intended for BIPOC LGBTQ+ youth and young adults, will also present readings from poets Nadia Alikashani, Alisha Davidson, and Anahita Monfared.

The event will be hosted at the Massy Arts Gallery, at 23 East Pender Street in Vancouver.

Entrance is upon ticket fee, and registration is mandatory. At the gallery, attendees will be asked to show proof of vaccination + id, and wear masks at all times.

Click here to purchase tickets

Click here to know more about the event

Click here to purchase D Fretter’s book “Joy & Misery”

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To celebrate the many sides of poetry and spoken word, Community Engagement Coordinator Rafael Zen interviews D Fretter for Massy Arts, debating how art can be a space for dialogue about self-love, and addressing art as a form of freedom for BIPOC LGBTQ+ youths.

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D Fretter: Voices to be heard, bodies to be seen

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Rafael Zen – How did you find poetry? Why do you think it is important for a society like ours?

D Fretter – Before the pandemic hit, I was a regular attender of an open mic night in Langley. I’ve been playing music since I was 17 but had never felt fully creatively fulfilled. In 2018 a woman named Raman Mander came to the open mic. She shared some spoken word pieces, and I was moved by the content of her poems and her performance. We quickly became friends.

Raman began organizing poetry specific events in the Surrey/Langley area and got more and more involved. Then, during the first wave of the pandemic I found myself writing a lot, but I didn’t touch my instruments for months.

I think poetry is important for today’s society because it is the most honest art form. Or at least, it has the most room for honesty.

In the social media age everyone is performing all the time. And while poetry can have a performance aspect (especially in slam) people tend to resonate with poets the most when they can sense they are being honest.

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RZ – What do you think are the differences between written poetry and spoken poetry? Because it involved performance, do you think spoken poetry may be a tool to make poetry more accessible and collective?

DF – I think reading a poem on a page and hearing a poem spoken by the writer are two entirely different artistic experiences. When you read a poem, you’re likely to hear the words spoken in your own voice, your own rhythm and cadence. Your imagination can run wild and there’s more room for interpretation.

When you hear spoken word or performance poetry, you hear the poem in the poet’s voice. You hear it with their rhythm and cadence. Depending on the performance style of the poet, any number of emotions can be brought up in the listener.

You could laugh, cry, you could self-reflect, or you could take the chance to see things from an entirely different perspective. 

I think slam/spoken word can help make poetry more accessible to a larger number of people because not everyone likes to read for fun. But people love live music and stand-up comedy and so I think it’s a pretty short jump to watching live poetry.

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RZ – What do you think is the importance of artistic expression for BIPOC LGBTQ+ youths? What does art do for folks touched by political and systemic intersections?

DF – I think artistic expression is one of the most important things for BIPOC LGBTQ+ youth. So often marginalized groups are left out of the conversation. Their voices aren’t heard. Often, they are silenced. But marginalized people need to make their voices heard in order to bring about positive structural and systemic change in our world.

Art makes you feel seen. For people with intersecting identities feeling seen is so important. A lot of times our lived experiences are questioned and invalidated from all sides. But art an create safe spaces for us and remind us we aren’t as alone in the world as we think.

Art is absolutely an act of personal freedom and an act of self-love. Whether it’s setting yourself free from your pain or the rebellious act of speaking the truths others don’t want you to speak. Being creative is a courageous act and these days we could all stand to be a little more courageous.

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RZ – You say there is still an err of mystery and a stigma surrounding poetry. What is this stigma you are referring to – and why do you think this happens?

DF – I’ve found that there’s a misconception that poetry is confusing and pretentious. Slam poetry has been regarded as a joke in movies and television shows (I’m thinking of that scene in 22 Jump Street).

A lot of that stigma comes from studying poetry in high school English class. A lot of us had to read poetry that is inaccessible to a typical person today. Stuff that was written a long time ago using type of English we don’t use anymore (Shakespeare) talking about life experiences we can’t relate to in 2022.

So, you read this stuff and you’re told this is what poetry is and you think to yourself “okay then poetry isn’t my thing because I don’t get it”. Or maybe you see a slam poet in a comedy or a sitcom. Often the poet or poetry in and of itself is the butt of the joke.

So then why would you take modern poetry seriously if those two examples are all you know?

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RZ – “Discovery Poetry’ is a hybrid event between an open mic and a workshop. How did you come up with this vision? What kind of space are you trying to create for this night?

DF – Sometimes workshops can feel like class, and I wasn’t a very good classroom learner. I think open mics can be great but no matter the artform, people often come to show off and don’t show a lot of care for the other artists.

So, I wanted to combine the things I love from both of those things to create an evening where people, particularly BIPOC LGBTQ+ youth and young adults, feel inspired, empowered, and entertained.

The night will be broken up into three parts. Firstly, performances from three featured readers. I’ve shared a stage with each of them and I think they’ve all found their own unique voices in their art.

Secondly, a brief lesson from me where I go in on what I think makes a good poem and we hold some space for attendees to write a poem.

Lastly, the open mic. This will be the time where attendees can share a poem or two. Hopefully we all leave feeling inspired to continue to find and use our authentic voice to speak truth to power.

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RZ – Could you share one of your poems to our readers?

DF – This poem is called Pretty Big Deal:

Pretty Big Deal

I’m a pretty big deal
And no big deal
I’m a figment of God’s imagination
I’m realer than real

My thoughts don’t have a beginning, middle, or end
Like water in a stream
I’m as solid as a rock
I’m just vibrating energy

I’m a dream chasing dreams
An idea hatching schemes
I’m the trick up my own sleeve
I’m just passing memory

I’m the artist and the masterpiece
I’m the heart and the beat
I’m the beauty and the beast
I’m the ocean and the breeze

I take forever to say nothing
I say it all in an instant
I’m connected to everything and everybody
It doesn’t matter the distance

This is one of my favorite poems from my book Joy + Misery. I don’t really like to place any expectations on readers/listeners. But I do hope they like it.

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