Poetry Saved Our Lives

October 17, 2017 | Claire A

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"It's gotten me to come out of my shell and it's gotten me to write more. It’s a fun experience overall. The people there are uplifting and supportive."
-Dorian, on Poetry Saved Our Lives

Poetry Saved Our Lives

Come out and work with some of the finest young poets our city has to offer at Poetry Saved Our Lives workshops. Work with a coach to develop your own stories and learn how to perform your work in front of an audience. And to top it all off, you'll get to perform at our Poetry Slam. Take to the stage with youth from across the city to express yourself and compete in front of a full house with a guest performer. 

Poetry Saved Our Lives workshops are all about writing, creating and collaborating both out loud and on the page. Spoken word is emotionally raw and Poetry Saved Our Lives workshops encourage and empower you to be real, express your views and emotions, tell your own story and unpack personal experiences. The spoken word poetry you'll create is along the lines of Drake, Chance the Rapper, Cardi B or Kendrick Lamar. You'll develop artistically along with other youth and learn from a spoken word mentor. Each set of workshops leads to an open mic event that is an impressive and inspiring show of talent.

Meet the mentors leading Poetry Saved Our Lives this fall:


Patrick de Belen, who will be leading Poetry Saved Our Lives workshops at Albion, Eatonville, and Fairview branches, is a rare breed of artist. This Toronto-based Filipino spoken word poet, performer, speaker, host and educator is an acclaimed performance artist and writer, as well as a committed community activist. Patrick was national slam champion at the 2012 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, and a performer of note on CBC, TED Talk, NEXE and others. He is also the first-ever recipient of the Spoken Word Poet of Honour award at YouthCanSlam. He is the director of BAM! Toronto Youth Poetry Slam and the facilitator of the Filipino storytelling workshop series, Poetry is Our Second Language.



Using passion, pain and a pen, Joshua "Scribe" Watkis is a storyteller who practices the arts of hip hop and spoken word. The Toronto native, who will be leading Poetry Saved Our Lives workshops at Jane/Dundas and Maria A. Shchuka branches, is one-third of the spoken word collective The Uncharted and an arts educator and youth mentor. While performing for humble crowds of three in local bars to upwards of 3,000 as an opening act for The Roots, the emcee/poet brings the same electric vibe to every show. Scribe learned at an early age that humanity's number one fear was not death, but public speaking. He believes he was born to invite you to join him in doing the bravest thing on Earth. Sharing your story, in your words, out loud.



Randell Adjei, who will be leading Poetry Saved Our Lives workshops at Flemingdon Park, McGregor Park and Malvern branches, is a spoken word practitioner and edutainer who uses the spoken word to empower and create community through edutainment. He is the founder of one of Toronto's largest youth-led initiatives; Reaching Intelligent Souls Everywhere (R.I.S.E Edutainment). He found the beat of his art after years of being lost. By turning his struggles around to inspire others, Randell has become an inspirational speaker, community organizer and a MaRS DD - Studio Y Cohort 2 fellow. He was featured performer on TEDxUTSC and has opened up for Terry Crews, Paul Mooney, Maestro Fresh Wes and many more. Randell is the recipient of the Best Spoken Word Identify 'N' Impact award for Best Spoken Word from the Toronto Youth Cabinet. Randell was also named CBC Metro Morning's Torontonian of the Year in 2015 and was a NOW Magazine Local Hero earlier this year.


Make sure to watch the powerful documentary Poetry Saved Our Lives, directed by Monica Gutierrez and produced by Galen Brown, 3004 Studios and Toronto Public Library. The film follows slam poets and mentors, from the program in the library, all the way to a performance at the Pan Am Games, as they learn, grow and express themselves through spoken word.  

Poetry Saved Our Lives is offered at library branches across the city this fall. See you there.