Books·My Life in Books

5 poets that inspire Humble The Poet

The spoken-word artist shares 5 poets that shaped their life and work.
Humble The Poet won Canada Reads 2017 with his defense of Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis. (CBC)

From Instagram stars to award-winning rappers and spoken word artists, Humble The Poet finds inspiration all over the place. Here, he reveals five artists that have inspired his work and that you should check out.

1. Rupi Kaur

Young Toronto poet honours his inspiration and hero Muhammad Ali with poem

6 years ago
Duration 1:33
Toronto poet Mustafa Ahmed says he felt "scattered" after hearing that his hero Muhammad Ali died and decided to gather his thoughts by writing a poem about Ali "because that's the best way we live on."

Brampton, Ont. writer Rupi Kaur is an internet phenomenon, with over 1.2 million people following her poetry on Instagram. Her debut collection milk and honey, a #1 New York Times bestseller, explores the experience of womanhood, from violence and abuse to love and femininity. She's currently working on her sophomore collection.

2. Saul Williams

Saul Williams is an American poet and performer, whose work includes the albums MartyrLoserKing and Amethyst Rock Star, as well as the searing poetry collection US (a.). As an acclaimed slam poet, Williams has performed all over the world. In the music video above, Williams performs "Horn of The Clock-Bike" from the album MartyrLoserKing.

3. Ian Kamau

Seeing Ian Kamau perform in Hamilton inspired Humble The Poet to take up spoken word poetry. Kamau is an artist from Toronto, whose discography includes the LP One Day Soon and mixtape Vol. 3 Love and Other Struggles.

4. Mustafa The Poet

Mustafa The Poet burst on the slam poetry scene in his youth, reciting verse about growing up in Toronto's Regent Park. He was named the poet laureate of the Pan Am games in 2015, and his Twitter and Instagram following continues to grow by the thousands. In the player above, Mustafa The Poet recites a tribute he wrote to the late, great boxer Muhammad Ali.

5. K'naan

Best known for his anthem "Wavin' Flag," K'naan has won Juno awards for albums like Troubadour and The Dusty Foot Philosopher. He's currently working with Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow on an HBO pilot Mogadishu, Minnesota. One of Humble The Poet's favourite K'naan songs is "Strugglin'". 


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