Dwayne Morgan: ‘The Godfather’ of Canadian spoken word poetry

(Courtesy of Claudia Dal Barco)

On March 9, Dwayne Morgan, York alumnus, 2023 Order of Ontario appointee, and two-time Canadian National Poetry Slam champion, will be presenting at the 24th annual spoken word concert When Sisters Speak for Black Mental Health Week, which runs from March 4 –10.

Graduating from York in 1997 with an honours degree in sociology and mass communications, Morgan has since been nicknamed ‘The Godfather’ of Canadian spoken word poetry. He shares that all of his poems are inspired by people. “Since starting on this journey, I’ve always been fascinated by the human condition. When you observe people, there’s really no shortage of inspiration or stories to be told,” says Morgan.

He explains that When Sisters Speak came to fruition after he created When Brothers Speak, a show meant to bring together artists in Toronto whom he’d met at an event in Pennsylvania. 

“The show was an amazing success, with over 400 people crammed into the Comfort Zone in downtown Toronto. After the success of the show, I was convinced that someone would create a copycat women’s version, but it never happened. Knowing how necessary a show like that was, I then created When Sisters Speak back in 2020, and have been producing it every year since,” reflects Morgan.

When Sisters Speak focuses on creating a space for women of colour to share their experiences through spoken word, and is the largest and longest running spoken word event that features Black women in North America.

When Sisters Speak is always a window into the lived experiences of Black women,” says Morgan. “People can expect a rollercoaster ride of emotions, from heartbreak and disappointment to joy and triumph. One would expect to hear commentary on things going on in the world around us, while also getting a glimpse into the experiences from outside of Toronto via guest artists who will be visiting from Orlando, Atlanta, and the U.K.

In a world where we like to speak about allyship, I think that this show is a perfect example of what we should be aspiring to. In order to learn and understand, we need to listen to each other, and at When Sisters Speak, Black women are front and centre, letting us into their lives via their spoken word,” adds Morgan.

Black Mental Health Week fosters a space to raise awareness on the impacts of racism on mental health, and will also feature performances from Shelly Grace, Hannah Flores, and Shahaddah Jack.

To learn more about this event and to get tickets, click here.

About the Author

By Sydney Ewert

Arts Editor


Sydney is in her third year at York University studying Dance. She loves to travel and explore new places. When Sydney is not editing, working, or studying for her classes, she is likely going for walks or learning new recipes.


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