Dwayne Morgan, 2021 Finalist

Dwayne Morgan began his career in the spoken word in 1993. Morgan is the author of 13 published and 9 audio collections of his work. Morgan is a 2016 finalist for the Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and a 2013 inductee into the Scarborough Walk of Fame.

Read on below to learn more about Dwayne Morgan, one of three finalists for the 2021 Margo Bindhardt and Rita Davies Award.

As a cultural leader, what do you hope your impact in the arts sector will be?

I feel really lucky that I don't have to hope or wonder what my impact will be, because I get to see it on a daily basis. When I started my career, the term spoken word wasn't used; those like me weren't recognized by the League of Canadian Poets, and there were no grants to support our work. I feel proud when I see new artists now being accepted in to the League, and Spoken Word funding available at the local, provincial, and national levels. When I started the first poetry slam series in Ontario, I had to do a lot of work to explain and show people what it was, convince artists to participate, and now when people hear about poetry slams, most know what they are. I have so many examples that I can share, and it is a great feeling to be alive to see what some of my impact has been.

You’ve been able to perform all over the world. what makes the spoken word scene in Toronto so unique?

Many of those who perform spoken word have familial and cultural roots rooted elsewhere, creating a diverse range of stories and experiences for artists to pull from. So many Toronto stories are actually stories of elsewhere, that are tied to the realities of Toronto. It is very easy to realize the things that we have in common, and the many things that make our perspectives unique.

You’ve published 13 books, numerous albums and are a two-time Canadian National Poetry Slam Champion. What else do you hope to add to this impressive list of accomplishments?

I never stop creating, so the manuscripts for the next five books are already written, there are seven albums on my computer waiting to be released, I've written a screenplay that I would love to see on the big screen, I'm working on a project to fuse spoken word and opera, as well as a documentary that will examine my career in my own words, and shed light on what it's been like to be a full time artist for almost thirty years.

Your poetry has been celebrated all over Canada and undoubtedly inspired so many. What inspires or informs the work you create?

All of my work is informed by the Human experience. I write about love, race, gender, sexuality, whatever it is that people go through. I've always strived to create work that was accessible and allowed people to see and find themselves in it.

Do you have any upcoming performances?

In the era of COVID, I have no idea what it upcoming at this point. There are no performances currently scheduled, so I'm using this time to focus on working on upcoming projects and releases.

How does it feel to be nominated for Margo Bindhardt and Rita Davies Award?

It is such an honour to be nominated. You never know if anyone is paying attention to the work that you do, so the acknowledgement is a great affirmation that my work matters beyond myself. I hope that those who follow, and are mentored by me, will be empowered by this to continue their journey.