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Your unofficial guide to Toronto’s South-North Griots Summit

The griot (pronounced gree-oh) is a class of travelling poet, story-teller and musician with roots tied to West Africa. The influence of the griot in Western culture can be seen at the root of most Western music. For instance, Delta Blues and gospel music are inspired by griot tradition. So was the amalgamation of poetry with folk and jazz music. The influence of the griot in modern Western culture, or more specifically the Pan Am and Para-Pan Am region can not be dismissed. To celebrate this tradition, the Northern Griots Network are presenting from May 28th – 31st the South-North Griots Summit.

Curated by four of Canada’s most influential artists working in spoken word traditions (Dwayne Morgan, Wendy “Motion” Brathwaite , “Nth Digri” Anthony Bansfield, and Eddy “Da Original One” David) the four day summit, features artists from 40 countries including poet laureates, authors, touring musicians and a Harvard professor.

So if you’re inspired to go to the summit, who are some of the artists to seek out?

Yasus Afari

Dub poet Yasus has collaborated with some of Jamaica’s finest reggae luminaries including the late Garnett Silk, Beres Hammond and Tony Rebel.

Jessica Care Moore

Alumni of Rusell Simmon’s Def Poetry Jam, Jessica has worked with rap superstar Nas and has graced the cover of Essence Magazine.

Emerson Alcades

This author, educator, and performer from Sao Paulo is the 2014 runner-up at the Slam Poetry World Cup (Paris, France)

George Elliot Clarke

George Elliot Clarke is Toronto’s poet laureate, and a visiting Professor of Literature at Harvard University. Beyond his long list of achievements, Professor Clarke is a passionate, powerful reader and philosopher not to be missed.

Kat Francois

Featured on BBC, Kat is an internationally acclaimed playwright who was victorious in the 2005 Slam Poetry World Championships.

Other artists I’ll be following: El Jones, Mahlikah Awe:ri, David Delisca, Hyf the Gypsy Sun, Osei Alleyne, Tuggstar, and Ian Keteku.

The Summit opens at Lula Lounge on the 28th, before migrating to the Harbourfront Centre. More information on summit performances, symposiums and workshops can be found at the Northern Griots Network website.

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