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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

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