Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The WAR Series: Writers as Readers, with Kevan "Scruffmouth" Cameron

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Kevan "Scruffmouth" Cameron

Half of National Poetry Month has already raced by! Today we continue our celebration of the form, welcoming spoken word artist Kevan "Scruffmouth" Cameron, one of the editors of The Great Black North: Contemporary African Canadian Poetry (Frontenac House).

The collection brings together talented African Canadian poets, writing in a myriad of styles about a breadth of subjects, which together form a poetic panorama of the Black Canadian experience. The collection includes works from CanLit greats like George Elliott Clarke, Olive Senior and Lorna Goodison, in addition to nearly 90 others.

Kevan tackles the The WAR Series: Writers As Readers questionnaire, which gives writers an opportunity to talk about the books that shaped them, from first loves to new favourites.

Kevan talks to us about a case of mistaken identity, what Canada should listen to during a national storytime and his inspiring to-read list.
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The WAR Series, Writers as Readers

The first book I remember reading on my own:
Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. I don’t really remember the very first book I read on my own, but this book was an early favourite of mine and remains a classic.

A book that made me cry:
The Autobiography of Assata Shakur, and Roots by Alex Haley.

The first adult book I read:
The Autobiography of Malcolm X. I remember when I was in Grade 7, I had a red, gold and green ‘X’ hat with a black brim. I was wearing my favourite cap as my best friend Andre and I went downtown Edmonton to the Paramount Theatre on Jasper Ave. to watch the Spike Lee Joint about the Black nationalist leader starring Denzel Washington. As we walked toward the theatre, we saw a Black man with a black hat and overcoat walking towards us. Dre and I looked at each other with a suspicion that through some temporal anomaly, we were walking towards El-Hajj Malik Shabazz himself as he walked out of the live action movie of his life. As it turned out, we were fortunate enough to meet Minister Faust, a leader in our community also known as Malcolm Azania, author and radio host of the United Nation of Hip-Hop and The Terrordome on CJSR.

A book that made me laugh out loud:
Catch A Fire by Peter White. A well written biography of the life and times of Bob Marley; White does well to capture some of the idiosyncrasies of Jamaican culture through anecdotes, mythology, newspaper articles and unique reggae musicology.

The book I have re-read many times:
Emperor Doom by David Michelinie. I love graphic novels, this book is very memorable for me as it demonstrates the value of free will.

A book I feel like I should have read, but haven't:
I & I by George Elliott Clarke. I received a signed copy of this book when I met G.E.C. for the first time; by virtue of the fact that it is essentially a spoken novel, I should have read it right away; but maybe from the energetic reading that George gave, I feel like he should read this book out loud for the people during national storytime.

The book I would give my seventeen year old self, if I could:
The Iceman Inheritance by Michael Bradley. It would have answered a few questions before I had the language and experience to ask them.

The best book I read in the past six months:
When Rocks Cry Out by Horace Butler.

The book I plan on reading next:
I don’t know, but maybe a book by Afua Cooper, George Elliott Clarke, Lawrence Hill or Rachel Manley. I am also thinking about acquiring the latest anthologies edited by Althea Prince or, A Secret History of Coffee, Coca & Cola by Ricardo Cortes.

A possible title for my autobiography:
Spoken, not Heard: The Autobiography of Scruffmouth the Scribe.


Kevan "Scruffmouth" Cameron is a scribe, spoken poet and performer. He is a veteran of the poetry slam scene in North America and aims to “edutain” with his work that focuses on knowledge of self, identity and vocalizing the stories of people of African descent at home and abroad. Kevan was born in Edmonton, Alberta to Jamaican parents. His poems have been published in We Have A Voice: An Anthology of African and Caribbean Student Writing in BC, Blood Ink: A University of Alberta Literary Journal and Sudden Thunder: Spring 2011 Anthology. He has also contributed to the boards of the Black Canadian Studies Association as the elder youth representative and Spoken Word Canada as the Vancouver representative. He facilitates workshops with BDRCC and the WordPlay: Poetry in the Classroom program of the Vancouver Poetry House.

For more information about The Great Black North please visit the Frontenac House website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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