Who is telling the “urban” Canadian story?
On February 2nd I was invited to be a panelist on “Defining Canadian Urban Fiction’ a discussion held at the Malvern Branch of the Toronto Public Library. I have to be honest at first I was like, “Ummm me? I don’t have a book published (yet)!” Once I snapped back to reality I realized that new media (blogs, e-zines etc) are just as much a part of the Canadian literary scene as paperbacks and hardcover works *puffs chest*.
African-American authors like Sister Souljah, Omar Tyree, Terry McMillan, Zane, and K’wan have helped to develop a genre of fiction that is specific to their urban demographic and experience.
Through a series of questions and expert opinions, a panel of urban Canadian writers and cultural advocates worked towards creating a definition of what “Canadian Urban Fiction” is.
I’m forever grateful to Stacey for inviting me to be apart of this discussion. I was overwhelmed and overjoyed really with how much hidden talent was steadily grinding in my own backyard.
~TANIKA CHAMBERS (Christian Non-Fiction Author)
~ANGELOT NDONGMO (Children’s Author)
~CAMILLE RAMNATH (Urban Education Scholar/Teacher)
~D.A. BOURNE (Life Fiction Author)
~GENERAL (Hip Hop Artist)
Readers, writers, and book lovers gathered together at the beautiful library branch in Malvern, one of Toronto’s inner city neighborhoods to discuss the Canadian urban identity, and the most effective and accurate way to document this culture through literature. The discussion was moderated by journalist Angela Walcott and Stacey Marie Robinson–Kya Publishing. You may remember Stacey from June’s Battle of the Sexes panel. In June many guests were treated to swag bags with her novel “Videolight” inside. Let me tell you, there was a war for those books that day!
Back to the discussion- Below is footage from the event (approximately an hour long). To help you follow along I’ve posted the discussion questions below. I’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to comment on the video or below and know that even if you are an American GI reader, this discussion applies to you as much as it does to my fellow Canadians.
Time to expand your mind & It’s time for Toronto and Canada to stand up!
- Has the word “urban” become another way of saying “black,” and does race always apply when the word “urban” is used?
- Does literature play a strong role in developing identity? Do you have any books that influenced your life and personal identity?
- What do you think urban music, urban radio, and urban culture means to Canada, and why is it so difficult for us to form a strong infrastructure for its development?
- What do you know about “urban fiction” and what is your general impression of it? Do you think there will ever be a place for it in the Canadian literary world? Does it need mainstream acceptance to develop?
- Do you think it’s necessary for us to classify writing by race, culture, or geography? What is the benefit to doing this?
- What makes your writing and what you do authentically “Canadian”? How would you like to be classified, and why?
- What would you like others to know about Canadian culture as a result of your writing/work, and how much of that is tied to your “urban” identity?
- What will this generation of children have—in terms of urban and cultural literature—that our generation didn’t have?
- What Canadian urban identity have you seen develop over the past 10 years, and how are the young being influenced by it?
- How do you think Canada’s “urban” culture will look 5-10 years from now, and what can we do as writers to help shape this?
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Workshop: The struggle of “detoxing” from an ex-lover is real which is why I’m hosting a private 2.5 hour chat Sunday Feb.17th at 7pm. It will be information & exercise intense. We’ll get to share our personal stories (including my own) and learn ways to “detox” from ex-lovers. Class is only $25 and it comes with a recording. I only have 10 spots open so that we can all have a chance to vent & share.
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