AfriCANthology Canada

Anthology Contributor Bios

Jamaal Amir Akbari

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

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

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.

George Elliott Clarke

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

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 Blues- print: 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.

Afua Cooper

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.

Asante Haughton

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 most recent Bell Let’s Talk prime time documentary special.

Reed “iZrEAL” Jones

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

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

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

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 | Webster

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.
Aly Ndiaye, AKA Webster, is a veteran of the Quebec hip-hop scene. Active since 1995, he travels the world thanks to his concerts, writing workshops, and conferences. Passionate about history, Webster is particularly interested in slavery and the Afro-descendant presence in Quebec and Canada. Webster is the author of a hip-hop writing manual, À l’Ombre des Feuilles (Québec Amérique, 2019), and of a children’s book about Olivier Le Jeune, the first African slave in Canada, Le Grain de Sable (Septentrion, 2019). He was also the exhibit commissioner for the Fugitifs! exhibit at the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec from April to September 2019.

Rodney Saint-Éloi

Rodney Saint-Éloi est un poète Haïtien-Canadien. Il a été nominé deux fois pour un prix du gouverneur général pour la poésie francophone, aux prix 2013 pour Jacques Roche, je t'écris cette lettre et en 2016 pour Je suis la fille du baobab brûlé. Originaire de Cavaellon en Haïti, il est déménagé à Montréal en 2001. Il est fondateur de l’édieur haïtien Éditions Mémoire en 1991, et a publié des recueils de poèmes, incluant J'avais une ville d’eau, de terre et d'arc-en-ciel heureux (1999), J’ai un arbre dans ma pirogue (2003) et Récitatif au pays des ombres (2011).
Rodney Saint-Éloi is a Haitian-Canadian poet. He is a two- time recipient of the Governor General's Award for French-language poetry, at the 2013 Governor General's Awards for Jacques Roche, je t'écris cette letter 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

Chloé Savoie-Bernard est née à Montréal, où elle vit toujours. Elle a écrit plusieurs recueils de poésie, dont le dernier en lice est Sainte Chloé de l’amour (octobre 2021, Hexagone). Chez Triptyque, elle a publié le recueil de nouvelles Des femmes savantes (Triptyque, 2016) et dirigé le collectif Corps (2018). Mémoire d’encrier a fait paraitre sa première traduction littéraire de l’anglais, Anatomie de ma honte, de Tessa McWatt, en 2021. Après avoir soutenu une thèse sur la littérature féministe au Québec, elle est désormais stagiaire postdoctorale en recherche-création à l’Université Sherbrooke. Elle travaille de surcroit comme éditrice de poésie chez l’Hexagone et comme membre du comité de rédaction de la revue Estuaire.
Chloé Savoie-Bernard was born in Montreal, where she still lives. She has written several poetry collections, the latest of which being Sainte Chloé de l’amour (October 2021, Hexa- gone). With Triptyque, she published the short story collection Des femmes savantes (Triptyque, 2016) and directed the anthology Corps (2018). Mémoire d’encrier published her first literary translation from English, Anatomie de ma honte, by Tessa McWatt, in 2021. After having defended her thesis on feminist literature in Quebec, she is now a postdoctoral research intern with Université Sherbrooke. She also works as a poetry editor with l’Hexagone and as a redaction committee member with the Estuaire magazine.

Olive Senior

Olive Senior is the Poet Laureate of Jamaica 2021-2024. She is the award-winning author of 20 books of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and children’s literature and other published work. Her Pandemic Poems: First Wave was published in 2021 and Hurricane Watch: New and Collected Poems will be published by Carcanet (UK) in early 2022. 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

Andrea Thompson is a poet, novelist, editor and educator who has been publishing and performing her work for over twenty-five years. In 2009 she was the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word’s Poet of Honour, and in 2019 her poetry album, Soulorations earned her the Sheri-D Wilson Golden Beret Award. 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. Her collection, A Selected History of Soul Speak was published by Frontenac House in 2021, as a part of their Quartet series.

Truth Is . . .

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

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.