David Dufour, the highly acclaimed and popular Francophone hip-hop artist and slam poet from Canada, performed last week in Hà Nội and HCM City.
Also known as D-Track, Dufour has performed and taught his art for more than ten years. He has released five independent albums since 2005, which have brought him respect and critical acclaim. In 2014, he represented the Canadian Province of Quebec at the Slam World Cup in Paris, where he was named fourth best slam poet in the world. He talks with Bạch Liên about his love of slam poetry.
Slam poetry is still unknown to many Vietnamese audiences. Could you briefly explain what it is?
Slam is a competitive performance poetry reading. Slam poems are read aloud to the public, in a public place, in the form of a competition. The poet does not use any props, costumes or music. The slam poet reads the text they compose about any theme they like. These performances are usually judged by selected members of the audience or by a panel of judges.
The slam was first created by an American poet in the 1980s, and the first slam poetry competition was held in San Francisco in 1990. The original slam competitions were performed without music, but nowadays to attract a more diverse fan base, many artists perform slam poetry to music.
The public in Hà Nội warmly welcomed you when you presented your own poetry, and shared the originality and depth of your texts to lovers of the French language and of Canadian performance art. Were you happy with your performance?
Yes, I was nicely surprised to see many people come to the concert. I didn’t expect that the hall in the French cultural centre would get so crowded. I believe that everyone appreciated the universe that I brought to them on stage.
What themes do you follow in your poems?
I write poems on themes that interest me. From my love of the French language, to my life in the suburbs of Gatineau City, and my love of housework…
I started playing music at 16, and began to perform slam seven years later. I was happy to discover a new game.
It’s not difficult to become a good slam poet, but to listen to an album of slam, you’ll need to pay a lot of attention. I believe that everyone can write and perform their own slam poetry.
How popular has slam poetry become in Canada?
Slam has become more and more popular in Canada. Increasing numbers of slam poets give workshops and write books about it.
Moreover, slams poetry is taught in classes in Canada. I have often been invited to classes in Canada to teach students how to write slam poems and perform them in public. Teachers ask their students to compose poems and perform them in public.
When I was in Hà Nôi, I met teachers and students at the Hà Nôi University and explained how to compose slam poems and perform them in pubic. They were excited to discover this art form. I hope I inspired them to see a creative way to learn and teach the French language.
Have you found inspiration to write slam poetry about Việt Nam?
Yes! I have found much in Việt Nam to be inspired by and perform in the form of slam poetry. I learned some Vietnamese words that have inspired me a lot.
I wrote a rap song about Việt Nam before coming to this country. I presented it to my fans on my Facebook page. — VNS