Randell Adjei named Ontario’s first Poet Laureate


Randell Adjei (Photo by Lady Mensah Studios)

For the first time ever, Ontario has a Poet Laureate.

Spoken creation artist Randell Adjei, in Scarborough, Ont., Was unanimously confirmed by MPPs on Wednesday.

Adjei, 29, says he’s grateful to have been chosen as the inaugural provincial poet, and hopes this news will shed some light on those who hear it.

“I feel like there is something brewing, something happening in the midst of all the challenges we have faced over the past year,” he says. “It’s nice to know that there is some positive news that a lot of us are hearing right now.”

He hopes to use his role to champion poetry across the province, as well as to connect Ontarians and help them learn more about each other.

“I want Ontario to know Ontario. A lot of people in Toronto have never been to Sudbury, Thunder Bay, ”he says. “Art brings people together, period, and I hope my poems and the work I’m capable of doing can literally do just that.”

Although his plans for his first composition are tentative, he says he will seek to “inspire people around resilience at this time”.

He plans to use his two-year tenure as Poet Laureate to raise the profile of poets across the province and wants to develop a poetry map of Ontario that would keep people informed of poetic events in their communities. Adjei is also committed to bringing poetry and the creative arts to students in the province.

A member of the League of Canadian Poets, Adjei discovered poetry for the first time thanks to the support of a grade 8 teacher. He was facing challenges at the time and she introduced him to the idea of ​​writing as a way of expressing himself and working through them.

I realized that I didn’t have to be so angry all the time: there was a medium, an opportunity that I could use to express myself, ”he says. Q&Q.

He has continued to perfect his art since then and released his first collection, I am not my battles, in 2018. In 2012, he founded RISE (Reaching Intelligent Souls Everywhere) Edutainment, an arts organization that runs programs that give youth in the Greater Toronto Area access to safe and inclusive spaces to explore self-expression through the arts. from the scene. Adjei’s work in the arts has led to a number of awards, including Best Spoken Word at the 2014 Black Canadian Awards and on CBC. Morning metroTorontonian of the Year 2015. RISE received the Arts for Youth Award from the Toronto Arts Foundation in 2018.

Percy Hatfield, NDP MP for Windsor-Tecumseh, introduced the Ontario Poet Laureate Act (in memory of Gord Downie) in honor of the late singer Tragically Hip in 2019. The law was passed in unanimously in December of the same year. Adjei said Q&Q he is grateful for Hatfield’s persistence in defending the role and grateful for Downie’s legacy of using poetry to draw attention to stories of social injustice.

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