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What happens when you bring together three Poets Laureate past and present, who represent various regions from across Canada? The conversation is sure to get lively, inspired and poetic!
Representing Central, Eastern and Western parts of Canada, we have convened current and former Poets Laureate to discuss the impact of spoken word poetry as a method for nation building, marking major events and raising awareness about literary arts in general. We are delighted to welcome Edmonton’s current Poet Laureate, Titilope Sonuga, Ontario’s first Poet Laureate, Randell Adjei and former Halifax Poet Laureate, Rebecca Thomas to the table and we invite you to join us!
We are delighted to announce Angeline Tetteh Wayoe, Host of CBC Music’s The Block as our host for the evening. Angeline will bring her wealth of media experience, arts and culture insight and perspective to the conversation as the evenings host and moderator.Our speakers will engage in cross-national conversations that will touch on their identities and the stories that uniquely capture both their experience, their location and their engagement in the arts. Weaving together a tapestry of the lived experience of both African Canadian and Indigenous ethnicities, our guests will share the challenges, rewards and importance of representation from their perspectives.
For reference, a shared understanding of the role of Poet Laureates is described on the of City of Edmonton's website as follows:
Historically, a Poet Laureate served as the official chronicler of state events and occasions. In ancient times, the Laureate was the central means for recording and communicating history.
Furthermore, it goes on to say:
More currently, the role of a Poet Laureate is to reflect the life of a city through readings of poetry. As an ambassador for the literary arts, the Laureate incorporates poetry into a range of official and informal city activities.
Poet, Playwright and Performer
Titilope Sonuga is a writer, poet, playwright and performer whose work grasps moments of tenderness and persistent joy at the intersection of blackness and womanhood.
She is the author of three award-winning collections of poetry, Down to Earth (2011), Abscess (2014), and This Is How We Disappear (2019) and has composed and released two spoken word albums, Mother Tongue (2011) and Swim (2019). Sonuga has written three plays, The Six; an intergenerational exploration of womanhood, Naked; a one-woman play and Ada The Country, a musical.
She has scripted global advertising campaigns for brands including; The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Google, Intel Corporation, Guaranty Trust Bank and The MacArthur Foundation. She was a writer and actor on the hit television series Gidi Up, which aired across Africa. Her writing has been translated into Italian, German and Slovak. Sonuga is the 9th Poet Laureate of the City of Edmonton.
Transformational Speaker, Spoken Word Practitioner and Arts Educator
Randell Adjei is an entrepreneur, speaker and spoken word practitioner who uses his gifts to Empower the message of Alchemy. He was recently appointed Ontario’s first Poet Laureate.
Randell is the founder of one of Toronto's largest youth led initiatives; Reaching Intelligent Souls Everywhere (R.I.S.E Edutainment). In 2018, R.I.S.E received the Toronto Arts Foundation’s, Mayor’s Youth Arts Award.
Randell is the author of I am Not my struggles, a powerful Anthology released in 2018. Randell was also named CBC’s Metro Morning’s Torontonian of the Year in 2015 and NOW Magazine's Local Hero in May 2017. In 2020, Randell opened up for President Barack Obama at the Economic Club of Canada.Website
Poet, Outdoor Educator and Children’s Lit Author
Rebecca Thomas happens to be good enough at poetry and persuasion to get people to listen, but her ultimate goal is to make Canada a better place for her Indigenous community, since so many people tend to forget they were here first.
Rebecca Thomas is a Mi’kmaw with family roots in Lennox Island First Nation. She is the daughter of a residential school survivor and unrelenting advocate for her community. She is a published poet and was the Halifax Poet Laureate from 2016 to 2018. She has won numerous awards and accolades.
She has performed with a Tribe Called Red and has spoken and lectured at conferences and coffee houses from coast to coast. She has written for CBC, The Washington Post, and Bon Appétit Magazine but has yet to make a chapbook (another name for a short book of poetry).
Rebecca writes kids books about growing up the child of a residential school survivor. Her first book I'm Finding My Talk was shortlisted for the First Nations Community Reads Award. Her children’s book Swift Fox All Along was a finalist for a Governor General literary award, and Marilyn Bailie Picture Book Award and was also shortlisted for the First Nations Community Reads Award. Her collection of poetry called I Place You Into the Fire was a CBC’s Top 20 book of 2020.
She collaborated with composer Laura Sgroi to bring together a three-poem story and full orchestral score which had its debut with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony in the spring of 2019.
Rebecca pays her bills by helping students who are overwhelmed with life and studies as a Student Services Advisor at the Nova Scotia Community College. Rebecca is an avid runner, hiker, and overall outdoorsy person. She spends time learning the land through gathering and fishing. She also feels uncomfortable writing bios about herself. She's done some other things here and there but has reached her tolerance for hearing her accomplishments listed off.Website
Producer, Radio Personality, Host
Angeline has a voice that resonates and carries, signalling her arrival well before you see her. Her humorous spirit has the ability to transcend, it can be felt through sound alone. She is a perfect match for radio, a medium she has been loyal to for almost 20 years.
She graduated with honors from the Radio and Television program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, beginning her career as a Producer and Host for the Edmonton Radio Group. Her next step was to join the team in Calgary, Alberta launching its first Rhythmic CHR format, Vibe 98.5. Her flexibility, edgy personality and depth of knowledge took her show straight to #1 in the market. She then jumped into the world of DJing, another creative outlet for her love of music, an element in the tapestry of her artistic expression.
Angeline relocated to Toronto in 2010 to take over as Midday host at FLOW 93.5 eventually accepting a position as host and producer at CBC MUSIC in 2016. Her talents also led to guest hosting stints with CBC Radio One programs like “As It Happens” and “q”. Angeline was also the “Allan Slaight Distinguished Broadcaster-In-Residence” at Ryerson University from 2017 to 2019. On Jan. 18th, 2021, CBC MUSIC announced that Angeline would become the host of a brand new Black Music focused show called “The Block”. Angeline is generous with her ideas and intimate in her interviews. Her ambitious production projects, her unique storytelling and captivating natural delivery bring a rare and authentic voice never before heard in the Canadian Radio landscape.