Ontario’s first Poet Laureate has teamed up with Holt Renfrew to create a series of performances to celebrate Black History Month.
Randell Adjei, 30, who also runs RISE, an arts organization for young people, received the title of poet laureate in April 2021 and was subsequently appointed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario for two terms.
In the series, Adjei interprets the poem “Flowers”. He told CTV News Toronto in an interview on Tuesday that he hopes it inspires people to reach out to their loved ones.
“Giving flowers is not a physical act,” he said. “Giving flowers is more about honoring and celebrating, hey, you mean something to me. Calling someone and sharing your appreciation for them.
Adjei lives in Scarborough, but was raised partly in Ghana, raised by her aunt. He visited the country last year, but was unable to meet her before her death.
“We really need to show the people we care about, that we love, right now,” he said. “Flowers tied to Black History Month are really about honoring ancestors, also honoring those who came before us.”
Adjei has invited three other women from Toronto to star in two more videos for the project. “Took Me From My Roots”, by Esie Mensah, choreographer and director, and Dynesti Williams, musician and financial coach, and “Midnight”, by multidisciplinary artist Tracey Kayy.
“I think of the Dynesti and Esie play is what they were able to talk about the journey of being taken off the continent and placed in a system that was not designed for us, in a world that does not not considered equals essentially, and what I love about Tracey’s piece is that it’s about midnight, how do we learn to love our skin,” he said.
“Blackness isn’t monolithic, there are so many different shades in blackness, and I think what’s really important is showing the different examples, the experiences of how we walk in that skin How we show resilience in this skin.
With over a year to go as Poet Laureate, Adjei looks forward to visiting communities across Ontario, working face-to-face with youth, and sharing more poetry.
Adjei said working with Holt Renfrew on the project was a positive collaborative experience.
“What I liked the most is that the people on set, usually when I’m on set there are a lot of people who don’t look like me, but on set there were a lot of Blacks and they were very careful to do so, and intentional makeup to the directors, everyone, as many people as we could be representative of the campaign.
“As we reflect on Black History Month, for me the most important thing I think about is legacy. And legacy is so important because it’s the legacy of those who m came before that really gave me the platform I have today.
Adjei said he was encouraged and inspired by the excellence of Black Canadians who have already made enormous contributions.
“I think it’s also important for others to recognize that we’re all living our legacies right now, we’re all creating our legacies right now, that ultimately it’s not about the day you were born. or the day you left, but it’s all about that dash in between and that dash in between is going to symbolize how you were able to use your life and use your gifts, your talents, your skills to better the world that we surrounded.
A spokesperson for Holt Renfrew said the company aims to use its platform to educate and entertain by celebrating Black History Month.
The company paid for the production of the videos and the photoshoot, the performers, hair and makeup artists, and the musicians who produced the backing tracks. They also donated to RISE
“We’re proud to showcase this beautiful art that celebrates Black excellence and creativity and bring it to the world throughout the month while showcasing amazing Black creative artists and supporting Randell’s RISE organization. “said the spokesperson.