Meet the Coaches: Poetry Saved Our Lives

January 16, 2019 | Debbie

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Poetry Saved Our Lives (PSOL) is back at eight Toronto Public Library branches this January. These hands-on workshops provide an amazing opportunity to work directly with a coach to develop your writing, poetry or stories, so we recently caught up with the coaches to ask a few questions.

Poetry Saved Our Lives Final Slam
Participants at a Poetry Saved Our Lives event.

Randell Adjei

Randell Adjei

What I'm reading: 7 Habits of Highly effective people (2nd time).

What I'm listening to right now: I'm listening to Mindset (audiobook).

Pet peeve: People who eat with their mouth open.

Secret Passion: Cooking delicious vegan meals.

The best park of working with PSOL: Helping youth find their voice in meaningful ways. Learning from this generation of youth.

Randell Adjei will be leading the Poetry Saved Our Lives workshops at Kennedy/Eglinton and Morningside.

Randell is a spoken word practitioner & 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). 

Patrick de Belen

Patrick de Belen

What I'm reading: Thank you for Arguing - The Art of Persuasion by Jay Heinrichs.

What I'm listening to right now: Kash Bag by Akil Elijah.

Pet Peeve: People who sneeze without covering their mouth.

Secret Passion: Comedy.

The best part of working with PSOL: It is an accessible space for young people of all backgrounds. Seeing my people at PSOL is the best part of a poet's week.

Patrick de Belen will be leading the Poetry Saved Our Lives workshops at Fairview and Cedarbrae.

Patrick de Belen is a Toronto-based Filipino spoken word poet, performer, speaker, host and educator. Patrick was national slam champion at the 2012 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, and a performer of note on such platforms as CBC, TED Talk, NEXE and others.

Nasim Asgari

Nasim Asgari

What I'm reading: Revolutionary Suicide​.

What I'm listening to right now: A lot of J.Cole & Lupe Fiasco always, Narcy & Lowkey.

Pet Peeve: Getting through the day.

Secret Passion: Acting/singing/dancing.

The best part of working with PSOL: THE YOUTH POETS.

Nasim Asgari will be leading the Poetry Saved Our Lives workshops at Albion.

Nasim Asgari is a thinker and dreamer, born in Tehran and based in Toronto.  Nasim has shared her poems at events, poetry slams and protests including TEDX Rouge River, R.I.S.E. Edutainment, Gardiner Museum, Creative Time Summit and Art Gallery of Ontario. 

Patrick Walters

Patrick Walters

What are you reading right now: Right now I'm binge listening to a financial podcast called "We Study Billionaires- The Investors Podcast". They discuss interviews done by Billionaires and look for the trends in business and in life that they all share.

What are you listening to: Daytona - Pusha T. Any song that Shenseea drops. My album which I'm dropping on the 26th of October!

Pet Peeve: People who try to cut the line, whether at a store or on the highway! I’m all for rebelling against systems but a lineup is actually a useful system! Pick another thing to act the fool with.

Secret Passion: Cooking. I consider cooking to be my second art form and I take it very seriously. My knives are probably some of my more expensive possessions and I think a well cooked meal for others is as fulfilling for me as performing on stage, which is the only other time I can say that.

Best Part of working with PSOL: Seeing the youth evolve from people who may have trouble expressing their emotions, to youth who can express and share with others and themselves. Plus, free snacks!!!

Patrick Walters will be leading the Poetry Saved Our Lives workshops at Jane/Dundas.

Patrick Walters is a poet and arts educator who is dedicated to sharing stories that speak to the issues we all battle daily. After graduating with a degree in Psychology from York University, Patrick has been focused primarily on his arts education career as well as sharing his works of poetry on stages across Canadian and American cities as well as St. Kitts & Nevis in the Caribbean where he grew up.

Joshua Watkis

Joshua Watkis

What I'm reading: I just finished Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward & Brother​ by David Chariandy. My next read is Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds.

What I'm listening to right now: I’m listening to a lot of different Toronto artists from different genres & styles right now. Devontée (WOE), Leila Dey, Maccie, Just John, The Sorority, Justin Nozuka. I’m also diving into Chicago Rap beyond Chance The Rapper. Noname, Mick Jenkins, SABA.

Pet Peeve: People who ask questions by making statements or giving commands.

Secret Passion: I’m starting to get really into skin and hair care, mostly because I want my skin to be clear & my beard to be full and moisturized.

The best part of working with PSOL: I love long-term writing relationships. They give you the ability to see so much of a person, to share ideas and develop the way everyone involved sees the world. You can’t develop trust or space like that, anywhere else. It literally creates life saving community.

Joshua Watkis will be leading the Poetry Saved Our Lives workshops at Oakwood Village and Richview.

Using passion, pain and a pen, Joshua "Scribe" Watkis is a storyteller who practices the arts of Hip-Hop & Spoken Word. The Toronto native is one third of the Spoken Word collective 'The Uncharted' and an Arts Educator/Youth Mentor.

Here is the full list of Poetry Saved Our Lives events. Feel free to drop in and try it out. We’re looking forward to hearing the words you have to share.

Poet at Poetry Saved Our Lives Final Slam
A poet performing at a Poetry Saved Our Lives poetry slam.