Capital Slam founder urges kids to be “persistent” in getting mental health help
Poetry speaks through the pain.
Gregory Frankson, co-founder of the Capital Poetry Slam, better known by his stage name, Ritallin, delivers a heartfelt poem in memory of his childhood friend Patricia, a victim domestic violence, during the "Could This Be Love?" conference at the Perth Civitan Club hall on Wednesday, Nov. 21.
December 16, 2012
Patricia would be glad that she is remembered so elegantly and poetically.
But Gregory Frankson, co-founder of the Capital Poetry Slam, would rather that he had not had to immortalize her, and the way she died, at all.
Frankson, better known as Ritallin in poetry slam circles, now serves as the creative director for Cytopoetics, but growing up as a child in Toronto, his family made room for a family friend who was coming up from Jamaica to study at a Canadian college. She soon moved out on her own, and got a boyfriend.
But the relationship turned sour – and that’s when the trouble started.
“This guy did not accept this,” said Frankson, during a presentation on mental health at the “Could This Be Love?” conference, sponsored by Lanark County Interval House, held at the Civitan Club hall in Perth on Wednesday, Nov. 21. “He continued to pursue her. She was like, no, no, no. He became more aggressive over time. He had some issues.”
Launching in to his ode to his late friend, he described how he attended her funeral as a youngster, after her ex-boyfriend had killed her with a machette, seeing her “gazing up from your casket at a world that prematurely stole your breath/ I wish you could have the danger you were in/God doesn’t wait when he calls you home.”
The 2012 national championship-winning slam poetry team, and the number two slam poet in Canada, had entitled his poem “Machette Smile,” and he stressed for the young people present at the conference not to let their relationships get anywhere close to Patricia’s predicament.
“In a healthy relationship, the first, most important step, is to know yourself,” he said. “Negotiating your way through a relationship can be mystifying.”
And knowing thine own self can be daunting as well, which can, itself affect relationships, like Patricia’s ex’s “issues.”
Frankson is the poet laureate for the international mental health initiative and he knows of what he speaks and rhymes about.
“I myself have depression and going through some of those processes can be difficult,” he said. “(But) I am always able to hang on to who I am. Being strong in will will lead to people respecting you.”
He admitted that a relationship “taxes (your) mental health. You are dealing with another person who does not understand how fully awesome you are.”
While he commended the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario for their “excellence” in child and youth mental health, he conceded that “they are very, very limited and it is very difficult to get into it. If you have difficulty getting it (mental health services) in the city, imagine in the country? If can be difficult. There are ways you can find the services you need. Your doctor might not be able to help you. (But) it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the oil. If you are persistent, you tend to get what you need.”
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