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South-North Griots Summit - May 29-31

Curatorial Statement

As an international event bringing together top spoken word artists and presenters of African-Canadian and Caribbean heritage from across the Americas, the South-North Griots Summit (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 arestorytellers / 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, Wendy Motion Braithwaite and Dwayne Morgan

Acknowledgements

Harbourfront Centre Staff

Marah Braye

Chief Executive Officer

Melanie Fernandez

Director, Cultural Engagement and Activation

Diana Webley

Senior Project Coordinator/Artistic Associate

Umair Jaffar

Artistic Associate, Lead

Janice Bearg

Head of Administration

Arzu Abbasova

Administrative Coordinator

Adam Moffatt

Administrative Assistant, Events

Andrea Strachan

Manager of Production

Kim Trollope

Technical Director

Eleni McKinnon

Production Coordinator

Genevieve Peng

Volunteer Coordinator

Dorothy Szczurek

Assistant Volunteer Coordinator

Adriana Sabogal

Vendor Coordinator

Special Thanks to Northern Griot Network

Anthony Bansfield a.k.a Nth digri

SNGS Coordinating Committee member

Eddy “Da Original One” David

SNGS Coordinating Committee member

Wendy Motion Braithwaite

SNGS Coordinating Committee member

Dwayne Morgan

SNGS Coordinating Committee member

A programme of the complexity and size of this 2015 festival season is only possible with the cooperation, contributions and hard work of every department and all members of the entire Harbourfront Centre staff and volunteer teams. We extend our thanks to them all. We would also like to acknowledge and thank the dedicated Harbourfront Centre Volunteer Team who for over 36 years have worked tirelessly to make all our activities possible.

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