Patrick de Belen will perform his poetry at Pan Am Games closing ceremony

Richmond Hill spoken word artist incites kids to own their voice


Published:

Patrick de Belen

In a refreshing departure from the norm of our culture, award-winning spoken word artist Patrick de Belen will be opening for the Roots at the final ceremony of the Pan Am Games this month. 

Spoken word poetry, de Belen explains, involves two steps: getting things off your chest and sharing it out loud. The theme of his work: “apathy is boring,” he said. 

Since 2009, the youth mentor and arts educator has visited about 100 schools (including his alma mater Richmond Green Secondary School) to hold spoken word poetry workshops for students in Grades 1 to 12. 

Whether it’s a period or a full day with them, de Belen hears about taboo human experiences each time: a boy writing to his absent father, an ESL student coming out of the closet (she later started her school’s first LGBTQ alliance). “Instead of sitting in your ivory tower writing these beautiful little poems, you have to be on the front lines and own your story,” he said. 

The 2014 Harris Institute grad also competes regularly in spoken word poetry slams. In 2012, he was the youngest Canadian spoken word poet to hold the National Championship title at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, in Saskatoon, which helped to put him on the radar of schools. 

At 23, his spoken word poetry career has taken him to classrooms from Montreal and Vancouver to New York and North Carolina. 

de Belen hopes to mobilize youth to live the life they want and to be who they want to be. “Get out and care about something,” he said. 

“Own your voice.”

Edit Module

Join the conversation and have your say by commenting below. Our comment system uses a Facebook plugin. Please note that you'll have to turn off some ad-blockers in order to see the comments.

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

You may also like...

Frontier’s Jessica Matten on her five favourite books

Frontier’s Jessica Matten on her five favourite books

This fall, the second season of Canadian historical drama Frontier premiered on Discovery with Toronto’s Jessica Matten back in action as Sokanon alongside series star Jason (“Aquaman”) Momoa.
Posted 13 hours ago
Racist posters appear in Midtown

Racist posters appear in Midtown

Posters believed to be linked to a white nationalist group surfaced in two Midtown neighbourhoods last month, worrying residents.
Posted 17 hours ago
Of inflatable Santas and other Moore Park miracles

Of inflatable Santas and other Moore Park miracles

The residents of Inglewood Drive in Moore Park are surely on the nice list this year. The street is known for putting up large inflatable Santas which draw crowds of passersby from all over the GTA.
Posted 17 hours ago
Passionate songs of protest and peace with Buffy Sainte-Marie

Passionate songs of protest and peace with Buffy Sainte-Marie

Buffy Sainte-Marie has been singing songs of protest, peace and understanding for more than a half century. She’s inspired or woken up countless people along the way. Who better to speak with to kick off our issue highlighting inspiring women?
Posted 2 days ago
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleEdit Module