The following are links to information about some of the excellent work conducted, round the globe, by spoken word poets and presenters involved in the Northern Griot Network.
Jessica Care Moore
DETROIT , USA
an internationally renowned poet/ publisher/ activist/ rock star/ playwright and actor. She is a five-time Showtime at the Apollo winner; has featured on hip-hop mega-star, Nas' "Nastradamus" album and was a returning star of Russell Simmon's HBO Series, Def Poetry Jam. She paved her own path and launched a publishing company of her own – Moore Black Press – and her first book, "The Words Don't Fit In My Mouth," sold several thousand copies. A few years later, she followed up with her second collection of poetry and essays, "The Alphabet Verses The Ghetto." Her innovative and inspiring take on literacy among our nation's youth landed her opportunities to produce several art programs, concerts, and workshops for the National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta, and worked as a facilitator for The Langston Hughes National Poetry Circle Project. As an internationally respected author and poet she has rocked stages all around the world, and she is the youngest poet published in the "Prentice Hall Anthology of African American Women's Literature," by Valerie Lee, alongside literary greats, Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, Octavia Butler Maya Angelou and many others.
Yasus Afari is one of Jamaica’s leading Dub Poets, as well as an Author and “Edutainer” who has travelled the world extensively to perform and deliver workshops on Caribbean/African History, Storytelling, Rastafari and Human Spirituality. Along with Rastafarian artistes such as Garnet Silk, Tony Rebel, and Luciano, he is one of the driving forces in the cultural renaissance in Reggae and Dance Hall music. He has toured the USA, South America, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean and recorded with the likes of Black Uhuru, Freddie McGregor, Beres Hammond, Benjamin Zephaniah, Sly and Robbie and Natural Black. He also produces the highly successful Jamaican Poetry Festival and Poetry in Motion, two of the Caribbean’s premiere spoken word events.
Ikenna "OpenSecret" Onyegbula
OTTAWA , CANADA
Born in Nigeria, and raised on three different continents, Ikenna “OpenSecret” Onyegbula has been a spoken word performance poet for five years, having begun competing locally in the Ottawa Poetry Slam scene. As a member of the four member spoken word troupe, The Recipe, Ikenna has been able to further develop his craft and enhance his passion for performance poetry, while as an avid writer, he has self published four poetry chapbooks, and runs performance and writing workshops in Ottawa.
He is a two-time Canadian National Slam Poetry Champion, as well as the 2014 World Poetry Slam Champion. He has performed his work across Canada, Europe, and the United States, and he is the Artistic Director of YouthCanSlam, the National Canadian Youth spoken word festival.
Dasha Kelly is founder and director of Still Waters Collective, an arts initiative providing creative writing programs to schools, prisons, boardrooms and community centers. She has performed at colleges and events across the U.S., including HBO's Def Poetry Jam, Opium Magazine's Literary Death Match, and opened for Grammy-nominated Angie Stone. Locally, she encourages youth throughout Milwaukee to write and tell their stories. She was named as Milwaukee Poet Laureate, and has published several collections of her poetry, along with a novel, All Fall Down, which earned her a place in Written Word Magazine as one of the top ten up and coming writers in the US Midest. Her second novel, Almost Crimson, is set to appear on bookshelves nationwide in spring 2015.
NOVA SCOTIA , CANADA
Shauntay Grant is a writer and storyteller from Halifax, Nova Scotia. A descendant of Black Loyalists, Jamaican Maroons, and Black Refugees who came to Canada during the 18th and 19th centuries, Shauntay’s love of language stretches back to her storytelling roots in Nova Scotia’s historic Black communities.
Her album Say Sumthin - released in June 2014 – is a beautiful mix of spoken word deeply rooted in soul. Production by Yogi (Johann Deterville) is smooth as silk. The album was done mainly as a commission piece for the Nova Scotia Department of Education – a first time initiative to include a spoken word project that could go out to all the high schools in the province, to be used as a learning resource for students and teachers. The reason Shauntay might be chosen for such a project is clear – her storytelling skills are second to none.
NOVA SCOTIA , CANADA
El Jones is currently Halifax's Poet Laureate, and a spoken word activist and teacher. She was the two-time captain of the back-to-back national championship Halifax slam team, and has performed all over Canada.. Her poetry is particularly committed to political causes and social justice and she has worked extensively with organizations around Halifax performing and presenting on issues of social change. She is dedicated to using poetry in prison outreach and youth engagement. El is current artistic director of Word Iz Bond Spoken Word Artist Collective, whose series is one of the oldest continually running spoken word series in Canada. She currently teaches in the African Canadian Transition Program at NSCC and in the Women's Studies program at Acadia. El believes that poetry can empower the powerless and give voice to the voiceless.
First, we master our mind-set, tackling the internal challenges and conflicts we will face to break out of the Starving Artist paradigm. We can’t change our lives until we change our minds.