Andre Fenton is a member of the WFNS, an award-winning spoken word artist and filmmaker, and a novelist. We talked to him about poetry, recent changes in spoken word, living in Nova Scotia, and his first novel, Worthy of Love, which is forthcoming with Formac Publishing. Andre will be sharing his expertise in a workshop, Introduction to Spoken Word, at the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia on June 21.
How long have you been writing? What drew you to writing in general, and poetry and fiction in particular?
I can’t quite remember what drew me into writing, although a friend had told me that in grade primary I ran around the class room yelling I want to write books when I grow up. I later explored that in high school. I knew then I wanted to be an author, though I wasn’t quite sure how to break into it. In grade 12 during our African Literature class my teacher had rolled in a TV with a DVD player during our poetry unit. I was a bit confused, and didn’t have a clue what was going on, then he played Def Poetry Jam.
There was something exciting and thrilling about it. The way the poet moved the audience. I was always a shy person, and never would have expected myself to be capable of performing, but I found it in myself. I discovered a local poetry show called Word iz Bond, and that had really kicked off my career as a writer.
What do you think is changing in spoken word these days?
One thing that is changing in spoken word poetry nowadays is that the younger generation of poets are really establishing themselves. I really love seeing mentorship of youth poets and youth becoming more socially active through their art.
What do you love about living in Nova Scotia?
What I love most about Nova Scotia is being so close to the ocean. It’s soothing, comforting, and also brings me to a calm place to write. I have traveled all over the country during the past 5 years, but Nova Scotia is the only place I call home. To me, home is where the water is.
What’s the biggest misconception about being a poet?
The biggest misconception about being a poet is that people will assume poets have a poem on every social issue. Sometimes it’s better for individuals to listen to particular issues than to speak on them. I can only speak on my own experience and what I know. Being involved with the spoken word community has really taught me to listen, and I am so thankful for that.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
My best advice for aspiring writers is to reach out to local authors. We don’t bite! Mentorship to any degree is worthwhile and very beneficial. Showing up to events and being active in the community is also important. We all have a story to tell, but we also have a community to build.
What’s the last great movie you saw?
Black Panther was a film that really pulled my heartstrings in a warm way. There are so many superhero films nowadays, but that one really brought me into a world of warmth and magic.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently working on my first novel with Formac Publishing. It’s called Worthy of Love and will be released on October 1st 2018. It follows a young mixed-race man named Adrian Carter, and he is struggling with self-image, weight, and bullying. It felt like a very important story to tell, and I hope it reaches out to young folks who need it. During the process of writing this book, everything felt very genuine and fluid. Often times as a writer, you sometimes have to squeeze your way into the mindset of a certain character. In my case with this book, it felt very honest. I’m very excited for it to hit bookstores. What a dream come true the experience has been thus far!