Jamie Kasiama calls herself shy — but you wouldn't know it judging by her fiery tongue in this video.
"Poetry gives me a voice," the 17-year-old told CBC Hamilton. "I'm really shy but when I write I can speak."
Kasiama, a Sir John A. Macdonald student, was one of the winners of the Burlington Slam Project's poetry slam. A poetry slam is a competition where poets perform their work on stage. They're scored Olympic style by randomly selected judges from the audience.
The five winners of the Burlington competition move on to a poetry slam in Guelph.
Justin Cargill was another budding lyricist who performed in the competition.
"Youth really feel as though they don't have a voice, that they don't have a say in the community," Cargill said. "This offers youth the chance to feel heard and it's what necessary."
Cargill said the audience of 120 or so at the Burlington event was amazing. "Every time I went back up and back down it was an embrace. It's not a competition, it's a community."
For her part, Kasiama was in a state of disbelief when she was crowned a winner. "I thought they made a mistake and said the wrong name when I won," she said.
But win she did, and poetry slams are helping her get closer to her dreams.
"I want to become a writer," she said. "Spoken word is another way I can do that."