The Toronto Public Library has dedicated a workshop series to Black History Month. In libraries across Toronto, events were hosted by African-Canadian poets, authors, comedians and screenplay writers.
Wordz in Motion took place at the Gerrard/Ashdale branch on Feb. 3.
Award winning poet, emcee, lyricist and playwright Motion worked with about 60 Grade 7 and 8 students from nearby schools including Bowmore, Roden and Duke of Connaught.
She emphasized the importance of poetry for the students.
“It’s powerful for youth, for young people, for everyone, because it’s a different way of seeing the world. It is a way of voicing our own reality as well as our fantasy. It is a way of visioning and looking back.”
She said encouraging youth to think poetically is a powerful way to help them see themselves outside of the way society may see them. Poetry allows young people to voice their own thoughts or ideas.
Motion said the fact the workshops are centred around Black History Month is important.
“Poetry is part of our legacy, it’s part of our lineage, it is part of our ancestral communication. Storytelling in the oral tradition, lyricism, the music and word – this is all a part of how we have documented our existence on our Earth.”
With the newer generation being locked into Facebook, Twitter and cell phones, it was exciting for her to see so many students still inspired by storytelling and the art of the written word.
Motion said she doesn’t think the art of storytelling will ever be lost – we just find new ways to tell our stories. Whether that is through analog or digital mediums, the main thing is that it needs to transcend whatever format is being used.
Speaking about her experience at the library, Motion was encouraged by the students’ energy.
“It was good to see their enthusiasm. There are some that really wrote a lot, and even though some may not be confident enough to stand in front of a crowd, some of them did. It’s a continued work. You start with something like this as an inspiration, and then when they go back to their classrooms or workshops it can spark them to want to do more,” she said.
The Toronto Public Library will continue its Black History Month workshops until the end of February. See torontopubliclibrary.ca for more details.
Yasmin Soul is a Beach resident and Humber College journalism student