By Ansharah Shakil, February 8 2024—
This Black History Month, Calgary Poet Laureate Wakefield Brewster will be presenting the second installment of Arts Commons’ TD Amplify series, an underground curated collection of shows with local artists who are participants in the TD Incubator artistic development program. Part 2 of Wakefield Brewster Presents is arriving on the heels of Part 1, a collaborative cabaret utilizing multiple different artistic approaches. The second of four planned shows, Part 2 is a showcase in celebration of Black History that will take place on Feb. 9 and 10 at Arts Commons.
“I am most excited because of the intersectionality and duality of the event,” Brewster told the Gauntlet. “It’s great to, inside of mentoring this new cohort, be able to focus on a Black History Month cabaret. It’s nice to amplify the culture as well.”
The showcase will feature four Black artists in different disciplines: ballet, tap and jazz dancer M’Kayla Kongnetiman, musician and journalist A.N., spoken word artist Okechukwu Nnamchi and hip-hop artist Dizzy Walka who has sold out popular venues like Broken City.
“They’re not the only Black artists [to apply for the Incubator program] but they are the four that we thought would go best together,” Brewster said. “We thought they were most complimentary for this cabaret.”
The TD Incubator program has in the past been curated by artists such as Sargeant x Comrade. Brewster himself went through the Incubator program in 2021 — he moved to Calgary in 2006 and along with being a current avid supporter of the arts and the community in the city, he was appointed Poet Laureate in 2022 and will serve until 2024. At the showcase, he will perform PoeThree, his own most recent music and poetry mash-up.
“[With poetry] you can write the conversation until you’ve said everything you need to and then put it out there how you want to and it is […] is a conversation you may have with the world, saying it all at once, not be interrupted and let it sit,” he said.
The 60-minute showcase of the artists will be followed by a post-show party with a local DJ — DJ Spacy Jay on Feb. 9 and DJ Sid on Feb. 10.
“I think it’s something that everyone should know about,” Brewster said. “Regardless of whether you’re a student, an artist, an appreciator, a facilitator, there’s something in this show for everyone especially because of the thematic time of year.”
He explained that though Part One and Part Two are completely different shows, the spirit of Part One — the theme of his mentorship, PeoplePuzzle, which is about artists forging their identities through connection, collaboration and creation — will be similar to Part Two.
“I think that the arts is the great translator of all human experiences, and I believe that because folks use language so often whether it be thought, written, or spoken, as a poet it’s easy for me to transcend those translations between human experiences and artistry,” he said.
With the excellent artist lineup, the showcase is sure to astonish audiences and is an excellent way to provide an appreciation for local Calgarian talent, the TD Incubator program and Black History Month.
“I want [the audience] to feel absolutely overjoyed, overwhelmed, and get a great understanding of Black culture, Black excellence and the artistry we contribute to the creative community of Calgary,” Brewster said. “These artists, their skills, their abilities, their prowess, will absolutely speak for itself in each one of them. I would love them to have a big crowd, I would love people to come and see these artists, who are already good and we’re helping them become great, and I would love people to come and celebrate Black History Month in this very unique way with artists, artistry and people getting together.”