I've had a culture crush on Chicago as long as I can remember. I've worshipped Michael Jordan since I was 5 years old, the documentary Hoop Dreams is my favourite movie (and was my DJ name for three weeks, ha!) and Common's Resurrection and Be are two of my favourite ten albums of all time. More recently I've been swept up in the work of The BreakBeat Poets, a movement of poets reared on hip-hop, just like me. It's the most relatable poetry I've ever found, and Chicago might be the city most like my hometown of Toronto anywhere on the globe. I was lucky to travel to Chicago as part of my work developing arts programs for Toronto youth who have experienced violence as survivors, witnesses and perpetrators. I figured I'd share a bit about what I saw in Toronto's beautiful and equally troubled sister city.
NBA All-Star Weekend comes to my city of Toronto this week, and to celebrate I thought I'd share some quick reviews of my favourite basketball books. They are autobiographies of players, stories of special teams and exciting seasons and fiction, but they are all about my first love, basketball, and like the game itself, they're all full of lessons that can make us better people off the court.
This is a post I wrote for my old blog around the time I released my first poetry chapbook Toronto The Good back in 2013. You can download the e-book version for free, along with my other e-book short story collections by clicking here.
I’d never heard of a poetry chapbook until the day spoken word artist and R.I.S.E. Poetry founder Randell Adjei stood up at the weekly Scarborough open mic and held up a chapbook containing poems written by several artists and poets that had performed at R.I.S.E.
Besides searching for books about city life, I make a conscious effort to seek out books written by Black and Caribbean authors, Canadians and women. I've been searching for these two books for a while, and when I found them just before the holidays I knew I'd review them for this blog. Spoiler alert: I recommend them both!
My favourite novels of this year depict city life in '70s, '80s and '90s Kingston, "post-racial" Los Angeles and the fictional city of Springfield, telling stories of "third world" poverty and drug violence, "first world" human rights and divisive police brutality.
Rap N’ Roll is the sixth book by Toronto writer and concert presenter Dalton Higgins, and his most unique and different one yet. That is a big statement for Higgins, as anyone who’s read his work at NOW, The Source or VIBE magazine, along with his blogs and tweets can attest. His first book was about legendary MuchMusic VJ Master T, his last an unauthorized but certainly not unqualified biography of Drake, and in between he’s released titles on his favourite subjects: music, hip-hop and fatherhood. Those titles have landed in school classrooms across North America, the Harvard University’s hip-hop archive and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s collection in Cleveland.
Teammates is the story of two childhood friends who find themselves on two different paths, one to potential stardom, the other to eternal infamy. Set in the author’s old high school and the neighbourhood where he grew up, it is an emotional and all-too familiar tale about the temptations of the inner city and the efforts of young men to both defy the stereotypes, and to live up to them… by any means necessary.
Download this free e-book and read it on the device of your choice via Apple iTunes, Kobo, Barnes & Noble or Smashwords.
A poem in honour of my grandmother Imorene "Mama Jenny" Roulston, November 9, 1925 - April 7, 2015.
A poem in honour of my grandfather Donald Hamilton Roulston, July 10, 1917 - October 11, 2009