IF INTERVIEW

    Q. You’re relatively new to Spoken Word.  Where you been hiding?

    A:  (Laughing) Raising a family, making a living, all that good stuff, but you know, life gives you things when you’re ready and when I discovered Spoken Word, at age 50, I was seriously ready.

    Q. You’re around 55 now, which make you one of the older Spoken Word Artists, what’s that like?

    A.  Well, lets just say I’ve got some interesting experiences to draw on for my poetry!

    Q. You grew up in Toronto?

    A. Yeah, in Scarborough, which at that time was pretty well the eastern edge of the city. It was interesting.  On one hand, it was still quite rural, at least when we first moved there, so there were fields and forests and the nearby creek was full of life – great for a kid.  On the other hand, it was a typical struggling lower middle class neighbourhood with all the secret human dramas playing out; mental illness, alcoholism, domestic abuse…a good place to learn about the anguish and the ecstasy of people’s lives.

    Q.  There’s a spiritual aspect to many of your poems; do you consider yourself a religious person?

    A.  Well, depending on how you define ‘religious’ – I’m either very devout or complete heretic! (Laughing)

    I’ve been a Unitarian Universalist for most of my adult life and a student of the Seth Material. Both of those philosophies have coloured my worldview.

    Basically, I believe that existence – all existence – is sacred. I think living itself is a sacred act.

    And I’m a Theist in the sense that I believe we all come from a source outside ourselves, that we are both separate from, yet still a part of… a loving, all encompassing consciousness, which I call God.

    But here is where it gets weird; I also believe our thoughts, beliefs and expectations, literally create the experiences we encounter and the purpose of this reality is to learn to direct our consciousness and our thoughts to create the reality we want.

    I believe we change the world by changing ourselves; by embodying the love, peace, and compassion we seek in the world. Not a new idea but one I try to live.

    Q. Do you consider yourself a political poet?

    A. I have a lot of political poems but no, I don’t think of myself as a political poet. First, I’m a committed ‘peacifist’, which immediately puts me outside of virtually every political movement on the planet.

    Secondly, I firmly believe most of our problems stem from the fact that we have been taught by religion and science to distrust our selves, to fear ourselves, and of course, we project that fear outward onto others.

    We live in fear instead of love and our insistence on spending billions on the military while people are starving is just one example of the corrosive fear that permeates our culture.

    Q. In a couple of your poems you take a shot at the prison system. Why is that?

    A.   Because prisons have become the new slave system, a way of segregating and demonizing people we are afraid of. Because it is a cruel, dehumanizing, violent beast which feeds on people of colour, immigrants, aboriginals, the poor and the mentally ill. Because it creates the very things it purports to want to stop. Because it is a moral disgrace and a blight on our society.

    Q.  You often seem to be walking a tightrope between love and anger in your work. Is that accurate?

    A. Everything I write comes from a place of love but of course, anger is a natural reaction to the situation we find ourselves in as a species. But if you have too much anger, if you forget the beauty, wonder and kindness in the world, you fall into despair and become another cynical hatemonger. I know lots of politically astute, well-intentioned people who are so angry they have become part of the problem instead of part of the solution.

    We have enough history behind us to know that love and compassion are the only ways out of the dilemma we find ourselves in and the people we all admire – Gandhi, Jesus, MLK – they all fought with love, – that’s what made them so powerful.

    Q. People often talk about how positive you are. How much of that is an act?  You don’t wake up like that do you?

    A.  (Laughing) Listen, I get pissed, burned out, enraged and despondent, just like everyone does. But I’ve worked very hard at getting and staying happy and I try and live my life in a way that keeps me on the joy tip.

    Q. What do you do exactly?

    Its more what I don’t do. I don’t watch much TV. I don’t read the newspapers or digest the fear mongering, propaganda that passes for news. I try not to avoid the steady diet of fear that most people blindly consume everyday.  And I spent about 45 minutes every morning visualizing, meditating and doing affirmations.

    The mind is a like a computer, what ‘goes in – comes out.’  So while I recognize and acknowledge society’s ills and shortcomings, I also try to keep my head and my heart full of amazing, wonderful beautiful things, which is actually pretty easy, because it’s everywhere, its just but most people let the haters drown it out.

    Q. What inspires you?

    A.  Everything man! My family, my friends, my fellow poets and musicians, people, nature, music, art…it all inspires me to be a better poet, a better performer, and better person.  What I’m really trying to do is smash through the limitations I’ve put on myself. I want to be the best I can be and help others do the same.

    Q. What should people expect when they see you perform?

    A.  To be ignited and hopefully transformed. If you come away from my show uplifted, inspired or renewed, I’ve done my job.

    Q. You just competed in the ‘World Cup of Slam’ in Paris where you placed third. What was that like?

    A. Absolutely amazing! To see so many different styles of spoken word on display was hugely inspiring because most of us are only familiar with the North American approach to the art form. And to have Ian Keteku with me, plus my wife, son and some close friends made it really special.

    Q.  What other Spoken Word artists and poets do you admire?

    A. There are too many to mention but the man who taught me virtually everything I know about Spoken Word is my poetic mentor and friend, the great Ian Keteku. In my opinion, he is Canada’s greatest living poet and he keeps getting better. It’s a little scary!

    Q. You’re very unusual as artist and a performer because you seem to connect with everyone; young people, older people, people of different faiths, ethnic or cultural backgrounds…why is that?

    A. Thanks. In my poetry I try to reach across the artificial boundaries we have erected between ourselves and others and to speak to the struggles we all share. The struggle to find a place in the world, to love and be loved, to live a meaningful life, to seek justice and to live in a way that is congruent with our deepest, unspoken values.   I also use a lot of humour so that helps too! (Laughing)

    Q. What’s next for IF?

    A.  There is a documentary coming out called IF THE POET! so I’ll be working on promoting it. After that, I don’t know. I don’t put limits on myself, I’m open to all possibilities. Bring it on!