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Spoken Word: Firewater By Janet Rogers

[ 0 ] August 1, 2010 |

I was thrilled that Shane Koyczan’s slam poem “We Are More” was a hit at the opening ceremony of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and that spoken word received such huge exposure. I never paid much attention to spoken word until I heard that piece—and Janet Rogers.

During the Olympics, Michal Kozlowski and I searched for Janet Rogers at the Aboriginal Artisan Village and Business Showcase, housed at Vancouver Community College, just across the road from the Aboriginal Pavilion. The hosts and hostesses from the four tribes who partnered for this even were impressive, and wherever First Nations people were involved, I was treated with great respect.

It turned out that Janet Rogers was working as stage manager for a small stage stuck in the midst of many noisy arts and crafts booths. Michal and I were invited to relax in the staff lounge, and then, after a short meeting with Janet, we attended her spoken word performance.

The venue worked against her, as it was far too busy and noisy, but despite all of this, Janet’s performance was magnificent. I became an instant fan of Janet Rogers.

This story is about Janet Rogers’s latest CD, Firewater, but it is also about connections. It’s a small world. Michal once reviewed a poetry book by Shane Koyczan. Janet Rogers wrote a story about Morris Bates, which appears in this issue of FACE.

I recently called up Morris Bates and I had to leave him a voice mail message. To humour him I sang a couple bars of “Blue Suede Shoes.” When he returned my call he asked me, “What did you do with the money?” I asked, “What money?” He responded, “The money for singing lessons!” We both busted up laughing. He said it was the oldest joke in Vegas. I know I don’t have a good singing voice but I believe I have a voice suitable for reciting poetry, and Firewater tempts me to try my hand at producing a spoken word CD.

I am not sure, though, that I can be as creative as Janet Rogers. On Firewater, she shows off her writing abilities as a poet and her talents as a producer. She uses many audio effects that all add to her poems.

“Distraction” almost makes me jump to clean dust off the needle, as it begins with what sounds like a record player needle skipping along over a record. Then it slides into an orchestral organ sound, with her voice leading up to a thought-provoking statement about anthropologists. In the background, she uses a loud whispering voice to say along with herself, “Where are we now?” Then her broad statements about where we are now end with her finding someone on the fringe.

“The God Awful Truth” is really wild. It begins with a hint of rap, and then, using voice synthesis, she delivers her poem.

Every time you listen to Firewater you will gain something else from it. It’s everything an entertaining CD should be—it’s fun, wild, emotional, insightful, sexy and brilliant. My favourite piece is “Something for the Tongue.” Janet uses many different voices on this CD and her voice on this track is sweet as chocolate.

To order Firewater, contact Janet Rogers at

Category: Spoken Word

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