Dwayne Morgan, spoken word artist and social entrepreneur, will launch his new book Everyday Excellence at Authors at Harbourfront Centre on February 1. He took some time to tell us about the book, why he loves Oprah and his childhood shyness.
IFOA: Why did you decide to publish this book now?
Morgan: 2013 marks the 20th year of my career. Over the past two decades, my work has brought me many experiences that I would have never imagined. Ten years ago, I started sharing the things that I had learned over the course of my career with high school students across the country. I wanted them to see me as an example of someone starting young, and living life on their own terms. After publishing six books of poetry, I wanted to commemorate the 20-year anniversary by looking back at my career and some of the defining experiences that have made me the artist and person that I am.
IFOA: You describe yourself as an introvert. When and how did you know you were also a performer?
Morgan: Most people who see me on stage are amazed by how different I am off stage. It is always my preference to be at the back of the room observing than socializing and interacting with people. In high school, I would do skits, and later poems, in school assemblies. Many of my friends had talent, and I wanted to fit in, so I did what I could. Even then, I had no idea that my life would be what it is today. By the time I had graduated from high school, I had already started my production company Up From The Roots, and not wanting to be shown up by any of the other artists in my events, I ensured that I performed in every show. Over time it started to feel more normal, though even today when I get off the stage I begin the countdown to when the the lights go off and the people leave—so I can exhale.
IFOA: Who is your hero?
Morgan: I would say that Oprah is one of my main heroes. When you look at her childhood and upbringing, you wouldn’t figure that someone with so much against them would end up becoming the woman that she is today. I grew up as a shy, black kid from Scarborough who somehow found poetry. No one who knew me as a child would ever figure that my life would involve standing and speaking in front of people, but somehow I ended up on posters in Budapest, and in German clubs. Like Oprah, I feel as though I’ve defied the odds.
IFOA: What’s your idea of a perfect day?
Morgan: My perfect day would include Jamaica, a beach chair, and an alcoholic beverage, but since writing that has already made me depressed, I’d say that the perfect day is any day I spend with my daughter, doing whatever her imagination cooks up! She’s currently five, going on 50, so her imagination is in overdrive and I am constantly trying to keep up physically and mentally.
Morgan: This is the first of my books where I pre-released a copy of the book prior to the official launch, because I wanted to get people’s feedback on it, and I must say that the feedback I’ve received has been absolutely amazing. The greatest hope is that people identify with the book and realize the power that we have to shape our lives. When I speak with young people, I always say, if I have achieved what I have with something as boring as poetry, just imagine what you can achieve with the gifts and talents that you have.