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About the Golden Star Lounge

Golden Star Lounge urban poetry series

The Golden Star Lounge (GSL) is a monthly spoken word poetry series featuring professional spoken word poets with an urban flavour. The shows, which also include performances by musicians and singers, usually take place on the last Friday of each month. The series was founded by Anthony Bansfield and Moses Abraham in 2002, and is currently in its 4th year of operation. Our series provides an environment where artists can speak to an audience in a dynamic and accessible way about relevant issues and ideas. From the way Ottawa audiences have responded, it is a guiding vision which resonates with a good many people, particularly in Ottawa's Black community. The shows normally take place in The East African Restaurant, which holds approximately 120 people.

Local spoken word artists

Local poets, musicians, vocalists, and authors have had the opportunity to feature at the GSL, and many emerging local poets have gotten their start on our open mic. The slam component of the series has also added an infusion of fun and entertainment into the Ottawa spoken word poetry scene. The GSL is the only certified slam series in Ottawa, and the only slam in the city to have a presence at the National Poetry Slam, the annual international slam poetry festival. In 2003, the Golden Star Lounge put Ottawa on the international spoken word poetry map with its team representing the city at the NPS in Chicago, and one of our poets (the nth digri) was selected by a panel of highly respected judges for inclusion in the anthology, Freedom To Speak, National Poetry Slam 2003 (“the definitive guide to contemporary spoken word and the way the world slams”).

Feature artists

The GSL has brought a number of world class artists, representing a range of styles and themes, to Ottawa to deliver entertaining and thought-provoking performances. As well, we have had a number of local poets as feature performers, and they have also thrilled our audiences with exceptional performances. Featured artists include

Development of community

The Golden Star Lounge has played an important role in the Black Community in Ottawa. The series has donated proceeds from several shows to community groups, and the shows offer an occasion for networking and publicizing community events. Artists in a range of media, including visual artists and photographers, have had their work exhibited at the series, and several videographers and journalists have interviewed poets there. As well, the series is central to the city’s spoken word poetry community. The GSL is very much involved in the collaborative efforts and spirit that marks the relationship amongst those of us committed to this art form and working to build its presence in the city. Most tellingly, a number of poetry series have spun off from the series as they attempt to follow the GSL’s lead in exposing audiences to the excitement, insight, and grittiness of spoken word poetry. (For information on the history of urban spoken word poetry and slam poetry in Ottawa, click History.

Media coverage

Through promotion and the quality of the series, our profile is increasing locally, nationally, and even internationally: we even had a reporter from the New York Times call and ask for info on the series for a travel piece on Ottawa! Campus radio is a vital promotional vehicle, and we have a reciprocal relationship with several of the Ottawa area campus stations. CKCU (Radio Carleton) has continued to be a source of excellent sponsorship and coverage of events. As well, CHUO (University of Ottawa) continues to provide good coverage, particularly though the urban-focused shows in their Saturday line-up (such as, Black on Black and Rockers). CBC Radio has given our series some attention, too: the local CBC station broadcast a show live to air in a long distance telephone interview with us while in Chicago. Newspapers, especially the Ottawa Citizen and Ottawa Sun, have increasingly covered our events. Black History Ottawa has also provided us with a very strong community presence through their mail-out of our event notices, and their online calendar of activities. In terms of TV, we have had live coverage by CJOH TV (evening news), Omni (Planet Africa) and Rogers Cable (Fontalfrom).

The East African Restaurant

The East African Restaurant The Golden Star Lounge is not just a series, but something more like a cultural movement. This means that we are not limited to any one physical venue. However, our regular home is the East African Restaurant – formerly the African Palace – on Rideau Street in the vibrant Byward Market area of downtown Ottawa. The location is very central and accessible by public transit, there is wonderful décor (that includes palm trees and waterfalls!), and the food is delicious. We are very happy to be located in a space synonymous with the East African community, as it connects us to a very vital and growing segment of Ottawa’s Black community and reflects the truly culturally diverse character of the Golden Star Lounge series.

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