As we move forward into 2018, we're reminded that art is an inspiring voice that reflects where we've been and where we're going. We're very honoured to include Jamaal Jackson-Rogers, Ottawa's recently appointed English Poet Laureate, in our 2018 and Beyond Portrait Series. Jamaal is not only an award winning poet, he's also an arts educator and mentor to many of Ottawa's youth. He believes his work coaching youth helps them build creative foundations, which in turn, gives them more opportunities.
We met Jamaal for the first time last summer and we were immediately taken with his kind smile and generous spirit. He was humble and genuinely curious about the projects Anita and I work on. Meeting people who are more interested in others, than sharing their own story, is always refreshing! That said, we believe Jamaal's personal story is very interesting and has given him the foundation for his art and his work guiding others. He grew up in Ottawa Community Housing with limited means, which has given him a grateful perspective and respect for those who have challenge in their lives. His rich cultural background, his Muslim faith and his work as an artist, has given him the base to teach that differences are a better reason to unify than to segregate.
Jamaal also has a humble reputation for being a creative entrepreneur. To create and present art is sometimes more fun if you need to find alternative ways to fund and share it - making entrepreneurialism part of the creative process!
We asked Jamaal for his thoughts on 2018 and beyond.
"I imagine 2018 to be a year of great innovation and creativity. Our little "big" city is maturing in so many ways; from the completion of the light rail, to the funding boost for the arts and culture sector, to affordable community based real estate opportunities for start up businesses. Ottawa will (finally) carve out a niche for itself in the landscape of progressive, urban places to collectively live, work, study, and dream, in Canada."
Thanks Jamaal for taking the time to sit for us and to share more of your story!
If you'd like to learn more about Jamaal Jackson-Rogers' art and his work supporting youth and other spoken word artists, please take a look at his website: www.justjamaalthepoet.com