Poet Laureate, Randell Adjei, on the power of words, the Black experience and mentorship

Randell Adjei is an activist, a spoken word practitioner, and Ontario’s first Poet Laureate. He is also co-facilitator of a youth writing and self-expression workshop for the National Black Canadians Summit taking place in Halifax from July 29-31. 

Join the live stream and the conversations at the National Black Canadians Summit

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Randell Adjei (Noorez Rhemtulla)
Randell Adjei is an activist, a spoken word practitioner, and Ontario's first Poet Laureate.

He is also co-facilitator of a youth writing and self-expression workshop for the National Black Canadians Summit taking place in Halifax from July 29-31. 

You can register now for the Summit live stream and be a part of the conversations happening all weekend.

Read our Q&A with Randell Adjei about the power of poetry, the Black experience, and mentorship at the Summit.

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Q: Why is the power of words (both written and spoken) important in telling the world about the Black experience? 

A: Poetry changed my life. It gave me the courage to explore my being and speak my truth. As a young Black male I found that I was being silenced and misrepresented. Having to navigate the world in a way that felt inauthentic, it was poetry that allowed me to discover my voice in a world that is constantly trying to leave us voiceless.

The power of words allows us to be vulnerable and honest about our experiences. I value the spoken word as it first allows us to reflect on our experiences in written form and when I do get on stage I can then bring others into that experience. Bringing others into the experience helps me release the trauma, hardships, and challenges that plague my everyday experience. The Black experience deserves to be heard in a way that is centered on collective healing and spoken word is one of the best forms to do so.

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Q: What is one thing you hope the youth will take away from the Summit?

A: I want the youth to take away the power of being vulnerable. I hope they can walk away knowing their vulnerability is not a sign of weakness but rather a sign of courage and bravery. It is my hope they can learn to live authentically - exploring themselves in different forms using poetry as a vehicle to do so. I also hope they walk away feeling encouraged to share their experiences in a vulnerable way that reminds other Black youth that being vulnerable takes strength not weakness.

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Q: Which poem or quote are you most proud of having written and why? 

A: I am most proud of my poem The Power of the Tongue. It is an ode to my ancestors who gave me the voice to continue their stories. It is a reminder of who I am, how I got here, and why I do what I do.

In the poem I say:
"Since the day I learned my first word, 
self expression has always been second nature, 
I am a child prodigy of third world parents 
so, I have to tell my forefathers stories on paper." 

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Q: Which book by a Black author do you think everyone should read and why? 

A: I think everyone should read Toni Morrison's work because of how she shows Blackness in her books.

She is an incredible writer who is seamlessly able to bring the reader into her world without them knowing. Her character development is powerful and she is a legend in the literary industry.

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Q: Is there anything else you'd like to share about poetry, storytelling, mentorship, or the Summit?

A: I love that this Summit exists, that we can gather together as Canadians to discuss where we are. I love that it is called a Summit as we seek to reach our peak.

Tickets to attend the National Black Canadian's Summit in person are sold out, but you can still register for live stream access and join from anywhere! Register for the live stream now and join the conversation.


CBC BOOKS: 30 facts you might not know about the acclaimed Toni Morrison

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Being Black in Canada highlights stories about Black Canadians. (CBC)