Poetry and Urban Poverty

I recently performed some poetry at Salon Camden Centre for Urban Dialogue (www.saloncamden.com). In collaboration with Manifesto, they launched a new Poetry Prose Photography series called “Why Am I So Poor” to discuss issues of urban poverty in Toronto.


The evening was an interesting mix of tension and story sharing. The room was full of politicians, poets and city movers and shakers and it was an honour to perform along side some poets whom I deeply respect.


2 thoughts on “Poetry and Urban Poverty

  1. But the needy will not be ignored forever;

          the hopes of the poor will not always be crushed.

                          Psalm 9:18 (New Living Translation)


    Word my sista!


    Poverty is poverty. Or is it? In my admittedly limited experience
    with impoverishment here in Ontario, I’ve come across two main categories of
    poverty and I’ve loosely defined them.


     In my first categorization I describe those victims I’ve
    come across that are  caught in the inner-city concrete corrals called
    government housing-projects
    —blatant, systemic “warehouses” for
    perceived objectionable, second-class folks. The second, and more prevalent, is
    peopled by the so-called working-poor—individuals and families that are
    paddling hard but never seem to get ahead at all. These are marginally (if at
    all) included in the debt/credit shitstem and are always guessing
    about the next couple of meals and are constantly worried if they’ll have a
    place to lay their head.


    Regardless of how we categorize the experience the basic
    outcomes seem identical: In both, there are precious lives locked in a cycle
    that perpetuates desperation and hopelessness, with an existence relegated to
    seeing the cheese, but never being quite able to bite in.


    And despite the misconception: The majority are not
    looking for hand-outs. They are hard-working salt-of-the-earth folk looking for
    a hand-up and out of the hole they’re in.


    I agree with you, the answers needed are not solely
    governmental, neither are the individuals (and their families) totally without
    a share of ownership in the solution but where do we begin to address the
    evident realities of the significant disparity in basic financial outcomes?

    I believe part of the answer lies in focus—focusing attentions and resources on a few critical grassroots areas, namely:

    Investing more dollars into preventative healthcare and incentivizing individuals to take ownership and sustain their own health and well-being outcomes
    Lessen the real tax-burden on students and the working-poor
    Investing in access to affordable Education and Skills-training
    Ensuring access to affordable Legal  Representation and Legal Process
    Funding and providing incentives for creating affordable Homes and Neighbourhoods
    Ensuring early access to solid Financial Education
    Provide capital and fund incentives for cottage industries and small businesses
    Promote and fund sustainable neighbourhoods and environments
    Continue to provide communities with reasonable access to enabling technologies such as computers and Internet access


    1. “folk looking for a hand-up and out of the hole they’re in.” word.

      In regards to the last point you made (Continue to provide communities with reasonable access to enabling technologies such as computers and Internet access Industry Canada funds) The Community Access Program, which is the program I work with, provides just this. But its not widely publicized or known.

      To your list, I would also add:

      – A central resource for youth/ or more funding and collaboration between existing umbrella organizations like the YES program and GYC.
      – Per capita state funding for the arts is lagging behind and it doesn’t make sense cause investing in arts and culture is a proven multiplier and contributes to a healthy economy.
      – women make up 70% of the part time workforce > Do folks understand the lack of job security entailed with part time contract work? I ask because this is something I realized the hard way.
      -The feminization and racialization of poverty needs to be addressed at a policy level.
      – Forward thinking investment in human capital creation (venture capital and social enterprise) focusing on things that can produce high employment rate.
      – High employment is not enough > after the recession “job recovery” has been pretty stable. But what kind of job recovery is the real question. When we talk about the changing nature of the workforce, its not a weather forecast – this is a business decision that people are living.
      – More concise mechanisms for workplace integration of newcomers and new graduates so that new immigrants and recent graduates do not find themselves in entry level jobs, instead of jobs that utilize their skills, talents and experience.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s