I don’t know how I scored an interview with esteemed Spoken Word Artist Dwayne Morgan, but I thank God that I did!
I have been in awe of Dwayne for years. It could be because I’m a writer and I appreciate that he introduced poetry slams to the T. Dot via his company Up From the Roots Entertainment. It could also be that I admire his unrelenting passion that shines through his emotional, insightful poetry on race, gender and social injustice.
Sooooo, you can only imagine how nervous I was to meet him.
Surprisingly enough, when I arrived at the Cedarbrae library – the spot for the interview – I saw a very unassuming man that looked just like Dwayne. He was sitting quietly at a table, typing on a laptop, just chilling. As I got closer, he looked at me and said hello. When I heard that distinctive voice, I knew it was in fact Dwayne Morgan.
After I thanked him for meeting me, he asked me to pull up a chair and we started our chat.
In just under 25 minutes, I found out that in addition to being an accomplished Spoken Word Artist, Dwayne spends his days speaking at schools, writing (he has written 9 books) and producing events. If that weren’t enough, he is presently the Artist in Residence at Cedarbrae library, where he provides help and encouragement to anyone who has an interest in writing. He’s there until the end of the year, so you better go quick!
Wanna know more about Dwayne’s start in poetry? Keep reading.
Hometown: Scarborough, Ontario
Astrological Sign: Libra
Years performing: 21
Fun Fact: Dwayne is a 2013 inductee in the Scarborough Walk of Fame for his work as a writer, speaker and producer
What inspired your love of spoken word?
It’s not something I had a love for as a kid growing up. I never enjoyed writing. I’m an introvert, so I would never choose to do something that required me to speak or be in front of people. It’s one of those things that I had a presentation in school and it went over really well. And other people pushed me into it and I later developed a love for it. To be totally honest, it’s the only thing that I was really good at.
What moves you to write poetry?
My poetry is inspired by life. I write about things that people go through, so I am always observing, thinking, and feeling. I use those experiences to craft poems that people can identify with.
What was your first performance like?
My first performance was pretty wack! I was a shy kid on stage, sharing something that I didn’t know if anyone would like. My hands and voice were shaky, but I did it, and taking that step has led to everything else that I’ve done.
Why did you start Up From the Roots Entertainment?
It’s a business that I started when I was in high school. At the time there weren’t a lot of opportunities for people to get on stage and perform…..especially young people and people of colour. So I decided to create a platform that they could use to get on stage to work on their craft.
I just started putting on talent shows…..I had so many friends that had talent we just started doing these talent shows all over the city. We were able to build it into something that is self-sustaining. I’ve been running it for 20 years.
Tell me about the events When Brothers Speak and When Sisters Speak.
When Brother’s Speak is a spoken word event created after a trip to Philadelphia. I received an email about an event going on in Philadelphia and I had no idea what this kind of event was. I jumped into my car and drove to find out and I ended up being in the event. When I got there, I met so many great poets and I thought people in Toronto would love this. So I created When Brothers Speak and brought the guys that I met at the show to Toronto. It was well received.
I thought that people would see When Brothers Speak and somebody would say lets do When Sisters Speak…….that didn’t happen, so I eventually said alright, let me do that too.
I love how you are able to embrace the female perspective in a lot of your poems. Why is the female voice so important to you?
Through my life thus far, everyone who has been important in it, has been female. I’ve grown up with a very strong grandmother, mother, sister and I have a daughter.
When I’m in these situations where I am the only male surrounded by women, you hear the complaints, issues, the guys who did them wrong. So for me as an introvert, you’re always listening and observing, and figuring out how to use those situations in a way where I can share a story that resonates with people.
What motivated you to produce the photo exhibit: The Sum of Her Parts?
I have always loved photography, but really wasn’t able to get into it until photography went digital. At the time, The Sum of Her Parts, was one of my most popular poems. I’ve always tried to push the envelope, so to bring the poem to another audience and extend its longevity, I decided to tell the poem through photography, which ended up being great success.
Did you envision that your poetry would have had such an impact?
I didn’t envision that I could do, and would do, the things I’m doing now. I’m grateful, blessed and humbled by everything that I’ve been able to do.
Any projects on the horizon?
I have an album in the works. Every poem will be me and another poet…so we’re writing everything together. I have a children’s book coming out in the next 6 months. And the next When Brothers Speak will happen on November 15th.
Even when I was interviewing Dwayne, I felt that he was a gentle, sensitive, happy man. He doesn’t need praise, fame or recognition for his work. As he put it, “I just live and do my own thing.” Well keep doing you, Dwayne! Thanks for talking with me.
For more information on Dwayne Morgan please click the following links:
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