Welcoming the Spoken World at #griotssummit2015


South x North Griots Summit, May 28th – 31st, Toronto

I’m so excited about working with an amazing team of artists, curators and cultural presenters to bring to you the South x North Griots Summit, taking place in Toronto this spring! This manifestation of over a decade and a half of visionary work initiated by the Northern Griots Network promises to animate this Megacity with the power of Word and Sound.

Canada’s spoken word scene is recognized as world class, cutting edge and groundbreaking. In celebration of our vibrant and innovative legacy of poets and wordsmiths, the Northern Griots Network and Harbourfront Centre have collaborated to invite spoken word artists from around the world to share their powerful oral and performance traditions, and what’s new and next in the lineage of spoken word. The Griots reminds us that the world is old but the future springs from the past.

#GRIOTSSUMMIT2015 is produced in association with NIA Centre for the Arts, LulaWorld Festival and IGNITE #TO2015 during the artistic lead up to the PanAm Games.

Hope to see you there!

– Motion

Program Highlights

Thu. May 28 | 08:00 pm – 11:00 pm
In The Beginning… **
Lula Lounge | 1585 Dundas St W. / Dufferin                                                                             For TIX: www.dwaynemorgan.ca/events

Fri. May 29 | 06:00 pm – 07:00 pm
ACTION! Stage to Screen: Spoken Word in Film & Video
Harbourfront Centre | Studio Theatre | 235 Queens Quay W.                                                FREE

Fri. May 29 | 08:00 pm – 11:00 pm
The Griots Lounge**
Harbourfront Centre | Brigantine Room | 235 Queens Quay W.                                           For TIX: www.tickets.harbourfrontcentre.com/calendar

Sat. May 30 | 09:00 am – 10:00 am
Opening Keynote
Harbourfront Centre | Studio Theatre | 235 Queens Quay W.
Featuring: George Elliott Clarke                                                                                                FREE

Sat. May 30 | 08:00 pm – 11:00 pm                                                                                 Spoken World: Features                                                                                            Harbourfront Centre | Brigantine Room | 235 Queens Quay W.                                                For TIX: www.tickets.harbourfrontcentre.com/calendar

Sat. May 30 – Sun. May 31 | 10:00 am – 6 pm | FREE
Interactive Workshops, Panels & Sessions – including Learn Out Loud: Spoken Word & Education, The Word on Community Engagement , Career Development: Taking Care of Business, Word Life: Youth InterAction Co-creation Workshop, Speak the Change! Spoken Word & Political Activism, The Griot Impact on Contemporary Diaspora, and more…

For Full Schedule, connect: www.northerngriotsnetwork.com/schedule.html     For Info: GriotsSummit@gmail.com



The debut of a new work of words by MOTIONBOOM for REAL : A riff on SAMO – accompanies a significant, just-dropped, musical release. Inspired by L’OQENZ aka NiteOwlNaps’ new sonic mix “DOWNTOWN 81” – premiered by OKAYPLAYER – and Motion’s own live eye experience with BASQUIAT’s visuals,  this rhythmic riff evokes the exhibited works (AGO in Toronto) and Unknown Notebooks ( New York’s Brooklyn Museum) of this evocative artist.

Listen | Read | Experience!

   BOOM For Real : a riff on SAMO   by MOTIONlive | MMXV

    New york

JB scrawls across a wall

as Martin speaks

in black tags against the

white starkness

It is Poetry

Now is the Time


Bebop Bird lives in acrylic and wood

the inanimate tremble

of shivering disc


and white

Letters spell


like his notes

JB’s materials are found





Harlem photog

captures the living

in gelatin



Basquiat lives there




designer suit

Brooklyn born



Graf and glitterati


Ire and dread

Visuals pound

bricks to canvas

Street is studio

here is born the Noise


spray cans



transcribes planes and trains

vets and pains

and legless men

gouged by the pursuit of democracy


Crowns hover the tracks

and traffic rumbles down

the surface of thin paper


the many

the crowd

the built up

the discarded

The cosign

the acclaim

the crash

the time travel

The regression to 7


The succession of


The multi-chaos

the collage of colors

trapped in a human skull

traced by stitches

held together by scars

The Black man


is a victor in the blood-filled ring

The cosmos hail the champion

the warrior returns

Locked in a frame of wood

a house of glass


rendered silent

by lips barred

in shards of crayon

and ink

The ghosts live here

the echoes of heroes

crying on stone mountain tops

tho dead

still Victorious

Burden stiffens his wings

fingers claw the dark expanse

and Jesse runs

over nazi hate

While the negro popo – blue-clad

stands static in a pale space

Samson is sheared of his locks

imprisoned by his own fascination

The poisoned portrait

Defeated v.s. the destroyed

Black slashes scream in the silence

and resonate noise

Blast of the beatbox

and spray can trumpets

wakes the worshippers

the idols

the enforcers

the pawns

The cowboy collectors

the copyright creators©

Gun-wielders who ransom

lifeblood for coins

The mind machine spins

powered by history

here hangs the anonymous

the unnamed

the self reflected in oil and stick

the tortured anatomies

the lonely black shadow

with white eyes slit

The artist in black shroud

hangmen with pink fists

teeth bared


   it could have been me

The young who lived old

but never got to be

under the peering eyes of the peeping toms

darkness torn by boars with horns

and venus boxes madonna

as the fighter tussles with wolves

colored men and halos

float over the city

the games of life

the circus sideshow

Dual visions

of fire spitters

and a falling metropolis


rise from the rubble

as the serpent waits

And Exu on his altar

stands at the gate

Waits for the Soul to come


Here lies the re:Mix

galaxy of collage

echoes of immortality

crux of death and rebirth

re: myth


the beat bop

the back spin

the freestyle polyphony

Downtown to uptown

cross bridges

and oceans of memory


   for real

for niteOwlnaps


27 years after his passing, JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT‘s aura continues to rise. Infamous artist, actor, DJ  who came of age with the earliest of the New York Hip Hop and punk scenes, Basquiat has left an indelible cultural mark. From the millennial release of the lost film Downtown 81, to recent exhibits at the Brooklyn Museum and Toronto’s AGO, the life andart ofthe Graf artist once known as SAMO who went on to take the exclusive art world by storm, is now the intrigue of a new generation. Through words, sounds and visuals, his influence lives on.

What more fitting than a re:Mix of the voice, sounds and energy of this immersive artist by the multi-talented L’OQENZ. Also known by her production moniker NiteOwlNaps (NON), the producer & DJ has fused her passion for the art of Basquiat with her sonic musings, creating DOWNTOWN 81: A tribute to Jean-Michel Basquiat. Premiered by OKAYPLAYER and presented by PIRATES BLEND, this debut is a MUST Listen, a journey through space, sound and time!

Tracks Produced/Remixed By: NON
Mix & Master By: Zoé Johnson of AFIMEarts
Artwork By: Felipe Velasquez | Graphics By: Blu


Griots Motion banner

Canada’s flourishing spoken word scene is recognized as world class. In celebration of our vibrant legacy of poets, we’ve invited spoken word artists from around the world to share their stories, songs and unique oral and performance traditions. The griot reminds us that the world is old but the future springs from the past.

Bought to you by the Northern Griots Network, in association with Harbourfront Centre and NIA Centre for the Arts, South-North Griots Summit is an international event bringing together top spoken word artists and presenters of African-Canadian and Caribbean heritage from across the Americas. The SNGS aims to advance the development of Canadian spoken word by drawing on the best and the brightest to engage in discussion and display their skills for audiences to enjoy spoken word performance in its full artistic dimension: music, movement, rhythm, and voice.

Music, theatre and other performance forms are central to the role of griots in engaging audiences. Traditionally, they are storytellers / singers / musicians / poets / historians, and through their spoken words are the living memories of humankind. How has this African tradition traveled cross-seas and south to north throughout the Americas? From the epics and praise songs sung by formal Griots, through to blues narratives, dub missives, calypso subversives, and hip-hop provocative’s, the poetic voice entertains and connects as a force of artistic communication, information, empowerment and transformation in our communities.

Understanding what is constant and what has changed in this transition may be a way to better understand both where we have been and where we are going; for, as the Griot reminds us, the world is old, but the future springs from the past.

Canada’s current spoken word poetry scene is flourishing and recognized as world class. It was built through the hard work, excellence and innovation of artists like Lillian Allen, Louise Bennett, Ayanna Black, and George Elliot Clarke, giants upon whose shoulders successive generations of spoken word artists and slam poets often unknowingly stand.

The SNGS is a song in celebration of those accomplishments, and an exploration of how the seed planted in yesterday’s CELAFI and International Dub Poetry Festival is grown today to link Caribbean innovators whose dub poetry and Rapso shape dancehall and soca with their techniques and tempos, with award-winning Canadian spoken word playwrights and ground-breaking impresarios putting poetry in motion when sisters/brothers speak, with US lyricists rocking Nuyorican, Def Poetry Jams and Apollo stages to bring a Jessica Care Moore to global acclaim. Through these linkages, gathering brilliant new world spoken word organizers and artists to learn from one another, showcase talents, listen to and speak with youth, and chart a way forward, we look to reach higher heights, to rediscover a greatness that will live so forcefully in the minds of generations to come that it will never be lost.

— SNGS Coordinating Committee: Anthony Bansfield a.k.a Nth digri, Eddy “Da Original One” David, MOTION and Dwayne Morgan



Women directors will be represented in full force at this year’s festival, and this exclusive Soundcloud playlist is the best way to party with them, no matter where you are.

Slowly but surely, cinema’s longstanding gender gap has been shrinking over the last few years. It’s a long and patience-testing process, but the results are growing more optimistic and inspirational by the day, and the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival is leading the charge. Women filmmakers are getting their projects made with an increased frequency and some, namely critically adored Selma director, and Tribeca Talks participant, Ava DuVernay, have crossed over onto Hollywood’s A-list.

And, who knows, perhaps some of the women behind TFF 2015’s most exciting movies are next in line. This year’s film lineup represents a significant milestone in Tribeca’s 14-year history: 40 of the 119 feature-lengths films were directed by women. That’s 33% of the fest’s behind-the-camera talent, a record-breaking percentage for TFF—and, giving the stats even more cache, 11 of those 40 women are from New York City.

To capture this trailblazing spirit, screenwriter/playwright/poet Motion and DJ L’Oqenz have given us something really special to celebrate this momentous occasion. Sadly, unless you’ll be in NYC at some point in the next 12 days, you won’t be able to see any of these ladies’ films, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the good vibes. Courtesy of Motion and L’Oqenz, here’s an exclusive and personally curated Soundcloud mix, made up of 15 songs from women like Mary J. Blige (who’ll be at TFF with her new documentary, The London Sessions, and a one-night-only concert), Jean Grae, Lena Horne, Alicia Keys, and Emily King.

Throw on this 15-track playlist and toast to the fairer sex.



Everyone has secrets. Maybe two, or even three. How many more so a family, a people or a community? From the opening moments of the feature documentary “In My Father’s House,” – which premiers at the Tribeca Film Festival – it is clear that this story of one man with one family in one city is also a communal tale – one that could lead to tragedy, or triumph.

Che Smith is a father, husband, Black man, Chi-town born and bred. He is also Rhymefest – the Grammy-award winning, Kanye and Common-collaborating MC. An Oscar for co-writing this year’s film anthem sits on his mantle. And yet, this Hip Hop artist allows us to take the journey with him to find his life’s missing link – his father.

The tumultuous ride begins when Rhymefest discovers his father Brian only a few blocks away – chronically alcoholic and living on the streets. After 20 years, the road to reconnecting is difficult. Rhymefest and his wife Donnie wrestle with the beauty and pain that arises from the reunion, while his father is forced to make the challenging choice between a future, and his past.

Filmmakers Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg craft a moving, illuminating view of an inter-generational family on the crux of crisis and change. Rhymefest’s journey is one of defining manhood in the face of fatherlessness, and the grave effects of abandonment and addiction, that become the traumatic inheritance of generations. Yet in his quest to build a legacy, Rhymefest, along with his father, struggles against the cycle, striving to build not only his family, but also a village.

Seeing Rhymefest on screen – and then hearing him live on the stage as the credits rolled – punctuated the film’s artful mix of family drama, music doc and inspiration story. Much RESPECT to this family for allowing us to walk with them on this journey, and become open to some healing along the way. A must see!




“Looked in the paper today -saw black faces in black veils – holding up black and white pictures of a black man / killed by white cops with black guns / in the black of night as he stood in the / white halls of his Boogie Down Bronx Building – still. ‘He fit the description of a black rapist’ said the white lawyers when the blacks came. He clutched a black wallet as the bullets rained – his white brain on the floor. Clear tears poured / like blood in the aftermath of disaster – and this black man is no more.”

– by motion, from Black & White – Motion In Poetry, 2002

Seeing this image at African Voices’ The Artivist Rises Exhibit immediately bought these words back to me, from a poem I wrote long ago, ‘Black & White’, and the moment I saw a picture of women marching with small #photos of #AmadouDiallo in ninety-nine, NYC. This image from those protests is now on the walls and pages of AfricanVoices, in 2015. #thestrugglecontinues #daretowin #motioninpoetry #blacklivesmatter



 From ‪Toronto to ‪NYC‬, the images differ but are still the same. ‪TOronto’s Jalani Morgan’s ‪#‎photography‬ featured. ‪#‎blacklivesmatter‬ ‪#‎torontostreets‬.


‪‎America‬, do ‪#‎blacklivesmatter‬?? ‪#‎blackboy‬ ‪#‎blackart‬ ‪#‎painting‬ ‪#‎visualart‬ ‪#‎powerful‬

11156134_10155500152860515_1536236929503218640_nThis ‪art‬ piece by ‪Malik Seneferu‬ blew me away. Remember ‪Lil Bobby Hutton. ‪#‎blackpanthers‬ ‪#‎oakland‬ ‪#‎africanvoices‬ ‪#‎nyc‬.

For more from The Artivist Rises Exhibit by African Voices, see instagram.com/motionlive.


11147140_10155496284340515_4285044999872190781_n“Now you’re looking at a Leader. Now you’re looking at a Queen!” – Mary J. Blige

Even in midst of the highest celebrity, the true Artist must take time to be with Self, and hear the changing tide of the voice inside. This is the prevailing message of the illuminating and anticipated new documentary “Mary J. Blige: the London Sessions” which premiers at Tribeca Film Festival. An inside view of a seminal moment in Mary J’s life & career, The London Sessions is a moving b&w journey into the burgeoning London scene, and the creative spaces that ignite a month of musical magic. We took in Mary’s collabos with songwriters and producers Darkchild, Sam Smith, Amelie, Naughty Boy, Jimmy Knapes and more. A journey that leads to an album written, recorded and mixed in 30 days, the film plays more like a pilgrimage – emotional and revealing – and explores a woman, artist and icon who exemplifies killer work ethic, a willingness to go deep, and transcend pain into strength. An inspiring insight into the artistic process and layer-by-layer creation. Now, we grew up with Mary. Came of age to the sounds of Hip Hop Soul Queen to the women and artists we are today. It’s inspiring to affirm, like the London Sessions, that the journey of personal and creative rebirth continues. #tff2015 @ellomelloqenz #motionliveeye

Tribeca Talks “Coming of Age” #TFF2015


Live at Union Square Tribeca Film Festival‘s Tribeca Talks Script to Screen explores coming of age stories in film in “Act Your Age.” Filmmakers Felix Thompson and Ido Mezrahy speak on childhood, youth, teen hood, and the phenomenon of growing up on screen. Whether “Boyhood,” “Girlhood” “City of God” or “Kids” filmmakers continue to grapple with these crucial years of transformation in moving pictures. From fiction to documentary, “Film is a document of time, trying to capture the moments that change the rest of your characters’ lives.” #tff2015 #kingjack #gored @tribeca #barnesandnobel #filmlife #motionliveeye