Shauntay Grant remembers the family get-togethers from her childhood.
Shauntay Grant, a spoken word artist and musician will be performing at Glasgow Square tonight. SUBMITTED
Her relatives would all be gathered in a room each trying to upstage the other. They didn’t just use their voices to tell the stories. They used their entire bodies.
Grant didn’t appreciate it for what it was then, but she quite confidently describes it today.
“It didn’t really register to me as art, but in retrospect it is,” she said.
Grant grew up in a home where her parents read to her daily. She was tucked into bed at night with stories and the warmth of spoken words.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that she would venture into a career that revolves around words. Grant is part musician, part poet, part journalist and a long list of other things, but it wasn’t until last June that she was able to sum it all up. Then for the first time she dared to call herself “a writer.” What was once a hobby has become her profession.
Grant is in fact an award-winning author who has written and published in several literary genres. As one of Canada's leading practitioners of spoken word performance, she was awarded a Poet of Honour prize by Spoken Word Canada at the 2010 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. She hosted CBC Radio's National Poetry Face-Off broadcasts in 2008 and 2009. She was the literary arts mentor for the 2011 Canada Games National Artist Mentoring Program and she regularly instructs youth and adults of all ages in the art of creative writing and spoken word performance.
As a child, Grant says she would follow her mother around the house asking Why? Why? Why? And it’s a question she’s never stopped asking. It’s what’s given birth to so much of her writing.
She said writing is a way for her to create things the way she wants.
While inspiration may be a part of great writing, it’s equally as much created by effort.
That’s why she tries to write every day even when she doesn’t feel like it.
She said she recently went to Tim Hortons and said she wouldn’t leave until she had a poem. Much of that work will never be read by anyone but herself.
“Even on those days you find it’s not coming easy, it’s still important to write something down,” she said. “It just keeps me in touch with the craft.”
Tonight (Friday) as part of New Glasgow’s African Heritage Month events, she’ll be performing at 7 p.m. at Glasgow Square Theatre with a mix of music and spoken word that fits with the tradition of African Nova Scotians. The event is free, although donations will be accepted at the door.
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