Thursday 21 April 2011

Reporters billboard while students recite poetry in Toronto commercial logo-free theatre contest


Nowadays-even members of the media have become walking billboards. So it is refreshing to attend a media event where the organizers have shied away from decorating the stage, the walls and the furniture with the logos of commercial sponsors.
At a recently held first-ever Poetry In Voice/Les voix de la po├ęsie recitation contest here in Toronto, I noticed that the event was refreshingly commercial logo-free. As seen in the photograph above the dozen high school students who competed for $10,000 in prize money, stood in front of a backdrop that showed only the name of the event. No banks, pizza companies or newspaper tags appear behind the students.
I had on my photographer's toque that night and decided that in the spirit of this no-promo evening that I would try to take only logo-free shots. When you have a room full of photographers, publicists and journalists, it is hard to not capture glimpses of some sort of logo, be it on clothing, or books or even writing instruments. This is a group of people whose daily wardrobe is very dependent on corporate largess.
I took the above photo of one of the event's organizers - poet and journalist Damien Rogers - being interviewed by a TV reporter. I approached the pair from the back mildly blurring the background (of any potential corporate symbol).
Upon posting the pictures on my Flickr account I realized even from the back it is indeed a Herculean task to avoid billboarding. Pictured below: I zoomed in on the camera totting videographer. Horrors. I spied that the cameraman's jacket sported a discrete but obvious CTV logo. Talk about rings around the collar.
Pictured at top are the high school students who competed in the Poetry In Voice competed. With his back to the camera is Albert Schultz, the evening's MC. The contest is the brainchild of Scott Griffin, the founder of the world's richest annual poetry prize - the Griffin Poetry Prize.
The grand winner was Grade 12 student Jonathan Welstead (5th from the left). The winning Toronto student attends Upper Canada College. He received $5,000 and his school's library will get $2,500 of which $500 is earmarked for the purchase of poetry books.
Second and Third place winners - North York's Anna Jiang and Sudbury's Spencer Slaney - and their schools' libraries shared in $2,500 prize money.