Slam poetry champions exchange friendly fire in Streetsville

PHOTO PROVIDED BY MATT MILLER Matt Miller wears his 2014 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word Trophy with pride

Miller wears his 2014 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word Trophy with pride


Last Wednesday, the crowd at Cuchulainn’s Irish pub in Streetsville hopscotched between whispered awe and unruly applause as spoken-word artists Matt “Lip Balm” Miller and Jason “Philosofly” Pennells shouted, sang and spilled their guts about everything from drug lords to hugs.

The two spoken-word artists competed in an exhibition grudge match at the bar last week with Pennells eventually taking the win.

“First and foremost I wanted to put on a performance for the people. That was the first thing on my mind,” said Pennells. “I knew that if I just did my thing, I would beat (Miller).”

Pennells won the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word champion with the Toronto team in 2013, and Miller won in 2014.

We Flip Tables, Miller’s Mississauga-based art collective curated the event, with teammate/spoken-word artist Brent “Same Difference” Peers playing host.

Miller and Pennells were each given three-minute time limits as they took turns riffing on social, political and interpersonal issues.

Miller deliberated over wet blankets and substance abuse.

“Crying on vacation is like celebrating amputation, some days the only words I speak are drink orders.”

Pennells used Pokemon as a metaphor for his sardonic take on slavery, greed-ridden corporations, corrupt politicians and even Gandhi.


“There’s only two buttons on this Game Boy, and kumbaya isn’t one of them.”

The judges, who were picked randomly from the audience, chose Pennells as the winner in a fifth round 3-2 victory.

Pennells, who is currently working on a hip hop record also under the name Philosofly, said his pseudonym is a play on words representing his introspective nature and the importance of expressing it with style.

“It’s because I enjoy saying deep and profound things, but it’s important that I look good while doing it, so the philosophy and the fly,” said Pennells. “Because that to me is what I look for in entertainment, so it’s what I try to bring.”

Miller, who graduated from the comedy program at Humber College, said his stage name came from a joke he used to tell as a comedian.

“So my lips were dry and I asked my little cousin for some chap stick and she said ‘No! It’s lip balm.’ And that’s when I realized if I was ever going to become a rapper I would call myself Lip Bomb, because I drop bombs from my lips,” said Miller.

This is the second time We Flip Tables has hosted an event at Cuchulainn’s, something Peers hopes will continue.

“Being at Cuchulainn’s is kind of nice because it’s hopefully a new home,” said Peers. “We’ve bounced around various places in Mississauga and Milton and we just keep running into issues with venues where they haven’t been supportive. The people at Cuchulainn’s seem really supportive so far, and hopefully we can make it work so that it can be a good thing for them as well.”

We Flip Tables will be performing at The Falcon & Firkin in Richmond Hill on Nov. 19 as part of the Yorkslam poetry slam series.

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