AfriCANthology Canada

Anthology Contributor Bios

Jamaal Amir Akbari (formerly Jamaal Jackson Rogers) is an award-winning poet, arts educator, creative entrepreneur, and performance artist. As a poet, he was selected to be Ottawa's first English Poet Laureate after 27 years in which the position had gone unfilled, while his career in arts education earned him the 2016 Ontario Arts Educator Award. He has brought his practice to audiences locally and internationally and his defining moments are when he makes intimate connections with his participants during workshop exchanges and performance sets. His topics range from emotional maturity to social justice, from parenting to the human condition, and has been highlighted in festivals, documentaries, and educational institutions across the world. He resides in Ottawa, Canada, with his wife and six children.

Bertrand Bickersteth is a poet, playwright, essayist and educator who was born in Sierra Leone and raised in Alberta. His collection of poetry, The Response of Weeds, was a finalist for multiple awards and won both the League of Canadian Poets’ Gerald Lampert Memorial Award and the Writers’ Guild of Alberta’s Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry. His writing has appeared in many places including CBC’s The Next Chapter, The Walrus, Prairie Fire, The Sprawl, and the CBC project Black on the Prairies. He lives in Calgary, teaches at Olds College, and writes about Black identity on the Prairies.

Cicely Belle Blain is a Black, multi-racial, queer writer, activist and CEO from London, UK, noted for founding Black Lives Matter Vancouver. Cicely Belle is also an instructor in Executive Leadership at Simon Fraser University and the Editorial Director of Ripple of Change Magazine. They are the author of Burning Sugar which has been featured on CBC Books, Autostraddle and Essence Mag. Burning Sugar was longlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award and shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award. They also published an e-book, What We've Learned: A Year Fighting White Supremacy in a Pandemic.

The 4th Poet Laureate of Toronto (2012-15) and the 7th Parliamentary/Canadian Poet Laureate (2016-17), George Elliott Clarke was born in Windsor, Nova Scotia, in 1960. A pioneer scholar of African-Canadian Literature at the University of Toronto, Clarke has also taught at Duke, McGill, UBC, and Harvard. His recognitions include the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Centre Fellowship (US), the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Fellows Prize, the Governor-General’s Award for Poetry, the National Magazine Gold Award for Poetry, the Premiul Poesis (Romania), and the Eric Hoffer Book Award for Poetry (US). His acclaimed titles include Whylah Falls (1990, translated into Chinese, 2006). 

Wayde Compton is the author of two books of poetry, 49th Parallel Psalm (Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize finalist) and Performance Bond. He also edited the anthology Bluesprint: Black British Columbian Literature and Orature. His nonfiction book After Canaan: Essays on Race, Writing, and Region was shortlisted for the City of Vancouver Book Award, and his first work of fiction, The Outer Harbour, won the City of Vancouver Book Award. His latest book is the YA graphic novel The Blue Road, illustrated by April dela Noche Milne. Wayde is the former director of the Writer's Studio and the Southbank Writer's Program at Simon Fraser University Continuing Studies. He currently teaches in the faculty of Creative Writing at Douglas College. He lives in Vancouver.

Dr. Afua Cooper is a senior academic trained in the history of Black people in Canada, and the African Diaspora. She currently teaches in the History, and Sociology and Social Anthropology departments at Dalhousie University. Her book on Canadian slavery, The Hanging of Angelique: The Untold Story of Slavery in Canada and the Burning of Old Montreal was nominated for a Governor-General’s Award. A recognized poet, spoken word artist, and wordsmaestra, Afua helped found the dub poetry movement in Canada, and (co-)organized five international dub poetry festivals in Canada. Dr. Cooper has published five books of poetry, including the critically acclaimed Copper Woman and Other Poems. She has recorded two poetry CDs, Worlds of Fire (2002) and Love: The Revolution (2019). She recently released Black Matters: Poetry and Photography in Dialogue (Fernwood, 2020) with German multidisciplinary scholar and artist, Wilfried Raussert. In recognition of her poetry, Afua was installed as Halifax Regional Municipality’s Poet Laureate from 2018 to 2020. 

A. Gregory Frankson has produced several spoken word recordings as well as the poetry collections Cerebral Stimulation, Lead on a Page, A Weekly Dose of Ritallin and Cerebral Confections. Greg’s work also appeared in the anthologies Mic Check (Quattro Books, 2008), That Not Forgotten (Hidden Book Press, 2012) and The Great Black North (Frontenac House, 2013). He is a 2012 Canadian poetry slam champion and a 2013 inductee to the VERSe Ottawa Hall of Honour. Greg is the past poet laureate of the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership and was an on-air poetic commentator on the CBC Radio One show Here and Now Toronto

Passionate about social justice and equity, Asante Haughton is a national award-winning mental health advocate dedicated to endeavours aimed at building stronger communities. He is a peer worker, poet, thinker and speaker who believes in people, global inter-connectivity, and positive personal change. Asante’s peer work has brought him across Canada, to the United States, Colombia and most recently, Ireland. Asante has also made noise as a two-time TEDx speaker and he was recognized by CAMH as one of the top 150 Difference Makers in mental health in Canada. Finally, Asante was featured in the 2021 Bell Let’s Talk primetime documentary special. 

Reed “iZrEAL” Jones is Toronto-born creative, producer and director, raised in the community of Hammonds Plains, Nova Scotia. His directorial debut, Soley Grey, and DWB, a short film about race and authority in a routine traffic stop that he wrote and directed, premiered at the 2007 and 2009 Atlantic Film Festivals, respectively. iZrEAL also created, directed, and hosted the first rap battle series, The Elements League, and was a founding member of The Word Iz Bond Spoken Word Collective. iZrEAL is also a past National Director of Spoken Word Canada. He was the 2007 Canadian representative at the World Cup of Poetry in Bobigny, Paris and a 2008 Canadian national slam champion. In 2016 iZrEAL co-founded The Black Power Hour, a prisoner led community radio show that discusses hip hop, current events, history, and social justice with imprisoned listeners.

Valerie Mason-John (a.k.a. “Queenie”) is the author of nine books. Including co-editing the award-winning title The Great Black North - Contemporary African Canadian Poetry. They are also co-producer of, ten poetic narratives from the 1700s to the present day. Their debut novel, Borrowed Body, won the 2006 Mind Book of the Year Award. They most recently edited an anthology on Afrikan Wisdom - New Voices Talk Black Liberation, Buddhism and Beyond. They are one of the leading African descent voices in the field of mindfulness for addiction. They live in BC.

Thandiwe McCarthy is a writer, spoken word poet, and 7th generation Black Canadian. As a writer, Thandiwe has published essays with the Nova Scotia Advocate exploring his Black identity. In 2020, Thandiwe performed his poetry at Atlantic Canada’s largest literary event, the Frye Festival, at Fredericton’s FLOURISH festival for art, and UNB’s 2020 Art Centre exhibit, Rediscovering the Roots of Black New Brunswickers. Thandiwe McCarthy lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick and has recently completed his memoir titled Social Oblivion: Raised Black in New Brunswick.

Dwayne Morgan is a two-time Canadian National Poetry Slam Champion, nicknamed The Godfather of Canadian spoken word by his peers. Morgan has published thirteen collections of his work, as well as nine albums, while performing in eighteen countries internationally. Morgan is a 2013 inductee to the Scarborough Walk of Fame, a winner of the Sheri-D Wilson Golden Beret Award, and a finalist for the Premier's Award for Excellence in the Arts.

Aly Ndiaye, alias Webster, est un vétéran de la scène hip-hop québécoise. Actif depuis 1995, il parcourt le monde grâce à ses concerts, ateliers d’écriture et conférences. Passionné d’histoire, Webster s’intéresse particulièrement à l’esclavage et la présence afrodescendante au Québec et au Canada. Webster est l’auteur d’un manuel d’écriture hip-hop, À l’Ombre des Feuilles (Québec Amérique, 2019), et d’un livre jeunesse à propos d’Olivier Le Jeune, le premier esclave africain au Canada, Le Grain de Sable (Septentrion, 2019). Il était aussi le commissaire de l’exposition Fugitifs! présentée au Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec en 2019.

Rodney Saint-Éloi is a Haitian-Canadian poet. He is a two-time nominee for the Governor General's Award for French-language poetry, at the 2013 Governor General's Awards for Jacques Roche, je t'écris cette lettre and at the 2016 Governor General's Awards for Je suis la fille du baobab brûlé. Born and raised in Cavaellon, Haiti, he moved to Montreal in 2001. He was a founder of the Haitian publishing company Éditions Mémoire in 1991, and has published poetry collections including J'avais une ville d’eau, de terre et d'arc-en-ciel heureux (1999), J’ai un arbre dans ma pirogue (2003) and Récitatif au pays des ombres (2011).

Chloé Savoie-Bernard is a writer. She has published several books, most notably Des femmes savantes, (Triptyque, 2016) and most recently Fastes (Hexagone, 2018). She has also contributed to various magazines, including Granta, Spirale, and Lettres Québécoises. She lives in Montreal where she just completed a dissertation on women's literature in Quebec during the 1970s to 1990s.

Olive Senior is the award-winning author of 18 books of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and children’s literature and other published work. Her many awards include Canada’s Writers Trust Matt Cohen Award for Lifetime Achievement, the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, the Commonwealth Writers Prize, an honorary doctorate from the University of the West Indies and the Gold Medal of the Institute of Jamaica. Her work has been taught internationally and is widely translated. Olive Senior is from Jamaica and lives in Toronto, Canada, but returns frequently to the Caribbean which remains central to her work.

Andrea Thompson is a poet, novelist, editor and educator. In 2005 her spoken word album, One, was nominated for a Canadian Urban Music Award and in 2019 her album, Soulorations helped earn her a Golden-Beret Award for Excellence. Thompson is the co-editor of Other Tongues: Mixed-Race Women Speak Out, author of the novel, Over Our Heads, and the 2021 recipient of the Pavlick Poetry Prize. Thompson currently teaches through CAMH and the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. She is a member of the Brick Books editorial collective and Artistic Director of Brickyard online spoken word showcase. Her upcoming collection, A Selected History of Soul Speak, was published by Frontenac House as a part of their Quartet series in fall 2021.

Over the years through poetry and effective communication Truth Is … has dedicated much of her time and all of herself to the betterment of the community. Since 2006 Truth Is … has been a multiple time individual slam champion, an 11x national spoken word team member, participating in hundreds of slams. She has participated in several TEDx events and has graced the stage of the prestigious When Sisters Speak spoken word concert five times. More recently she opened for legendary activist Angela Davis, was a recipient of the Min Sook Lee Labour Arts award and was named to Guelph's Top 40 under 40. 

Evelyn C. White is the author of Alice Walker: A Life and an alumna of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism where she was honoured for her Master's Thesis on The Racial Development of Blind Black Children. She lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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