WAKEFIELD BREWSTER - ROLE MODEL & AMBASSADOR
POET / MUSICIAN / INSPIRATIONAL SPEAKER / EDUCATOR
Officially Inducted into the “National Wall of Role Models” on June 7, 2014 ( See full list www.BlackCanadianAwards.com )
Performing in a musical capacity since age 6 and writing for the past 20 years, Wakefield Brewster, aka: ‘da lyrical pitbull’, has made his dynamic presence on the scene with no uncertain terms. Writing in a political and lyrical voice and performing with audaciousness yet unseen, he has blasted onto nearly 1300 stages in the past 13 years.
One of the country’s most renowned Black Poets, he can be experienced literally everywhere. His poetry is in print and online, not to mention that he performs prolifically, rotating between open mics, feature performances, fundraisers, political functions and multimedia exhibitions. Some examples of venues and events would be the ‘Art Bar Reading Series’ and winning their first ever Poetry Slam, multimedia cabarets such as the ‘Red Cabaret’ and ‘Artist’s Play’, The Children’s Wish Foundation via Circus Project, ‘The Merriment of Ten’, ( http://circusproject.ca/); ( http://circusproject.ca/tio/ten_artists.html#), and having radio interviews on ‘Howl’, for instance, a program on University of Toronto’s CIUT 89.5 FM, with radio personalities Nik Beat and Nancy Bullis ( http://www.ciut.fm/).
Of his more public and high profile accomplishments he has appeared on TV Ontario's ‘Imprint’, CBC’s ‘Hot Type’, with Jian Gomeshi, performed at ‘Word on the Street’, was the Headlining Performer for ‘Scream in High Park 11’ (2003) & Headlining Performer for ‘Scream In High Park 17’ (2009). Wakefield was also the Featured Poet opening the stage for Canadian Music legend, Jane Siberry at the Royal Ontario Museum, in Toronto, Ontario in a Featured Performance in 2003. ( http://janesiberry.com/).
Tell us what many people may not know about you?
What many people may not know about me is a great deal, as a matter of fact. I am not only a Poet and Spoken Word Artist, but also a Musician, playing Classical Piano since age 6 and Percussion since age 12. I studied these instruments from a very young age all the way through university. I am also a Specialty Teacher, knee deep in the Calgary Board of Education System, The Catholic Calgary Board of Education System and the Private School Educational System as well. I go from school to school on demand, bringing the world of poetry to students from Kindergarten right up to University Level and beyond to Masters and Ph.d Students. I introduce them to Poetry and past that, educate the students in Performance, Drama, Expression, Body Movement, Use of Space, Dynamic Reading and more, through strict instruction, to methods utilizing Spirituality, Energy and Meditation. I truly incorporate these unusual methods in my instruction and use them to unlock the paths of poetry that I believe lie in every human being. I honestly believe that everyone has a Poetic voice, a Poet within. My methods are to help people to find that Poet and teach people how to use that Poetic Voice. Another little known fact is that I have a passion for the Martial Arts, especially those that originate from Korea. I am a Tae Kwon Do practitioner of 12 years, 1st Dan, (1st Degree) Black Belt. For the past 7 years I have been training independently due to finances and time constraints, a period of self-discovery and self-reliance, however, I am now in the process of choosing a new Dojang, (school) and a new Sabumnim, (master) under which to continue my studies in Tae Kwon Do. Finally, unashamedly I will say that struggle with Mental Illnesses. ADD/ADHD, (Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder), OCD, (Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder), PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), SAD, (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and Clinical Depression and I am a somnambulist - a Sleepwalker.
What's your inspiration, how do you handle disappointments and get motivated?
I have had 6 near deaths. Therefore, simply being alive is my inspiration and my motivation to keep living to the fullest that I can. I cannot put it more simply. When I wake up and I’m on this side of the dirt, when I can see the sun once more, this is my single greatest inspiration: I’m still here. I apply that feeling of inspiration and motivation through this personal philosophy: “Every Person, Place and Thing that is NOT Wakefield Brewster, is a Person, Place or Thing that I can be motivated by, inspired from and learn from.” Simple.
How did you get to where you are now and what more do you hope to achieve?
In a way, I have no idea how I got to this point in my Poetic Career and in my life in general. I didn’t see any coming years ago, before I began this journey. I was bent on becoming a professional concert pianist, playing in amphitheaters in Europe for audiences of thousands. Somehow, some way, Poetry entered my life - and once it did, I never looked back. I was hooked on phonics. And having the personality that I do, I’m driven to succeed and excel in this art form to the fullest extent of my ability. That is what you can expect, that I will always be pushing my own limits to go as far as I possibly can, in any way, shape and form that is poetically related.
What would you like to be remembered for?
I want to be remembered as a Poet. There are only a handful of people in my life presently that have knew me before I embarked on this journey, before I became involved in reaching out to the world and connecting with people through the words I write. Almost everyone that I have met in the last 13 years that I have been on the Poetry Circuit have met me and know me as Wakefield Brewster, aka: da lyrical pitbull, The Poet. I wish to be remembered this way.
How do you balance work, family, friends and leisure?
It is a crazy balance that is always in the works. I am twice married, twice divorced. I have two daughters, 14 and 5 years old. One that lives abroad, one that lives in the city here in Calgary. I am a single father and I co-parent with my younger daughter’s mother here in Calgary, while my teenage daughter flies in to visit for holidays, summers and literally whenever she feels like it. Most of my friends are in the arts if not all of them. Therefore, the friends I see the most are usually during some kind of artistic function, performance or something of the like. My single father lifestyle doesn’t allow much time to socialize freely so usually, I don’t. My leisure time is usually entwined with my young daughter. When I am not working or performing, it’s playing with dollies, to tea parties to playgrounds, to movie theaters, to sleigh rides to parks, to play dates, to whatever... When I’m not chomping at the bit, I am here captive audience and pretty much her captive. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I have been a work at home dad for both daughters’ first five years of life - and loved every minute of it.
What's your favorite food, book, music and movie?
Food: West Indian as I have a Bajan (Barbados) Heritage but it’s in a tie with: French, Italian, Korean and as of recently, Iranian. Book: The Coyote Kings of the Space Age Bachelor Pad by Minister Faust. Music: too many genres to name. Being a Musician, I find worth and value in every single style of music that has ever graced my ears. Movie: once again, I cannot narrow it down to one movie or type, however, I have a deep appreciation and very big soft spot for foreign film.
What's your experience as a Black person in Canada?
My experience as a Black Person in Canada is similar in many ways to many other blacks in Canada but of course, it is an original one for there is only one of me. Regardless of colour, race, religion or creed, one’s personal journey wherever they are is what it is. One makes the best of life wherever they are, in whatever situation, in whatever they do and colour, race, religion or creed cannot and should not be the defining factors, but the character of the individual within. That is what I believe and it is this personal philosophy that has shaped my experiences as a Black Person in Canada, not just being Black.
Suggestions on how to further build our community:
I believe that we can further build our community simply through acceptance. No more judgement on “who’s black enough to be called black/who’s not black enough to be called black”. That is the biggest rift I believe that exists in the Black community. If a person identifies themselves with the Black Community because of their Heritage, then that person should be accepted without reservation. Light-Skinned, Yellow, Brown, Red, Black, Blue - all of these peoples. They all belong. Those who have a great deal of associates who are not black, they belong. Those who have married or have relationships with partners who are not black, they belong. Biracial and multi-racial peoples, they belong. The divisions through the scrutiny of jaded eyes and myopic visions do not belong. People who identify with Black Heritage in all ways, shapes and forms - they belong. That is what will further build the Black Community - acceptance.
Should & do Blacks support / patronize black music, events and businesses?
I am inclined to think that many do support Black Music, Events and Businesses but I personally feel all people should simply support what they believe in, again, regardless of colour, race, religion or creed. Does the music, event or business speak to you regardless of these factors? Then support it. One will truly experience more happiness and fulfillment involving themselves and exchanging their energies in circles that they connect with on a more deeper, personal level than colour.
Mention a few of your favorite Black Canadian Leaders, Artists and Role Models?
I was lucky enough to be published in The Great Black North - Contemporary African Canadian Poetry Anthology. 89 Black African-Canadian Poets. I was one. The other 88 are amongst my favourite Black Canadian Artists.
What's your understanding of Black History in Canada?
That is a huge question that I couldn’t possibly answer in any way succinctly. However, I will say this: because of my understanding of Black History in Canada, is the reason I hope to contribute to the Black History of Canada.