A Love Letter to the World
“The world, the beautiful universe, the elemental Earth, is a divine and magical place.
We are connected to that beauty and that magic all the time.
In fact, we are the keepers and expressers of the world’s fundamental, eternal magic:
– Brandon Wint
Brandon Wint came to the world with love, and it has become his profession to transmit this love to the world by performing his poems. Wint is an Ottawa-born poet and performer. He is a two-time national champion of the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word (2009 and 2010), where he performed as a member of The Recipe poetry troupe.
The 24-year old poet says writing poems made him realize the beauty of being human, the beauty of life and love. He says he was destined to be a poet – a messenger of peace and humanity. Wint versed his first lines when he was 12 years old. Since then, he never stopped writing. He doesn’t remember those lines anymore, but he still recalls the feeling that writing brought him – “a beauty of being good at something.” In fact, he was so good with English, people would call him a “human dictionary.”
When Wint turned 14, he received a woman’s hat as a birthday gift from a family member. Brandon pulled the hat over his head, and bent it on the side. “That made me look like hip-hop singer Remy Shand.” He wore the hat so often that his friends started calling him Remy. Whenever they saw Wint, they would sing Remy’s tune: “Take my message for my love.”
In his poems, a teenager asked deeper questions about the purpose of life and human destiny. What does it mean to be happy, to be alive and to love? Wint says writing brought him understanding of the world that surrounded him.
“I was fascinated by thoughts of magic realism, awareness, nature and how human beings are conditioned. Magic realism is a blessing, a gratitude for the things that happened in my life.”
Wint was born with cerebral palsy – a condition that affects motor functions, especially muscle control and coordination. According to the Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy, one in 500 babies is born with cerebral palsy each year, while one in three premature babies are affected to some extent. It’s estimated 50,000 Canadians suffer from this condition.
The poet says the condition has never bothered him because he grew up in a very positive family environment. “My family is always willing to love, laugh and eat dinner together,” Wint says. “It’s a blessing that helps me to carry optimism, peace and confidence.”
Moreover, Wint sees his condition not as a weakness but as his strength, a fate that forced him to seek his creative spirit. He reflects on his condition in the poem Poetry in Motion:
“I was a poet long before I could ever pronounce the words that would define my life.
Words like different
Words like disability
Words like cerebral palsy
The only poem the universe has ever wished for me to write or understand
is one that looks and sounds like.”
Craig Conoley, a local filmmaker and founder of Partus Films, listened to these words. “When I first saw Brandon’s YouTube performance of Poetry in Motion at the Capital Slam Finals in 2010, I was speechless. It was nothing I’d ever seen before. I had seen and heard poetry but this particular performance made me feel poetry for the first time.” Conoley says Wint has inspired him to look deep into his feelings, explore his curiosity and face his own vulnerabilities. The filmmaker was determined to reveal Brandon’s feelings through his own art.
“I knew that if we treated the piece as a container for Brandon’s subjective experience with cerebral palsy, we could make something very, very strong,” Conoley says.
In shooting the video, Conoley and Wint engaged other Ottawa artists. The local band Claude Munson & The Storm Outside improvised as they were listening to Brandon’s spoken words. The filmmaker says that such collaboration allowed him to create an “authentic” project.
“Brandon is a true artist,” Conoley says. “He walks, talks and lives his art in a way that is courageous and self-sacrificing to some, I’m sure. When you’re in his presence and you hear his words, they all seem poetic, and you feel part of his poetry and a part of his poetic universe.”
The popularity of the film went viral in Ottawa. The poet and the filmmaker have received an abundance of responses. Shortly after, the film was nominated as the best local film by the new defunct Ottawa Xpress; it was screened at the Visible Verse 2012 and Resolution 2012 film festivals. Poetry in Motion ended up on the pages of Discover Magazine, a UK publication that promotes inclusion of people with disabilities by writing about their achievements.
A year earlier, Wint quit Carleton University after majoring in English for four years to become a full-time poet.
“I am a poet,” Wint says proudly. “All money comes from my poetry and performances.”
His “office” is a coffee shop, Wint says. There, he likes to observe how the town wakes up: how people come to get their coffee, meet with friends, or just quietly read a book – each person carries a different story. Wint says every poem, like a coffee, must be brewed in his body before he serves it to the public.
“First, the idea must sit in my body. It doesn’t come from my mind, but from my heart and stomach. One morning, I wake up and I know what I am going to write.”
Wint says his poetry made him realize the purpose of life, which is to love and be loved. And now, it is his duty as a poet to speak love, compassion and peace to the hearts of other people.
“I want to remind people how magic, divine life is,” he says passionately. “I really want to remind them that they are alive! We are born to love each other. Love is an intimate, a lovely experience.”
Brandon Wint hopes that his audacity to pursue the path of a poet will inspire others to strive for their dreams: “There is a shortage of disabled people on the stage, in the political, social or athletic worlds. They get discouraged, deafened by always being reminded that they are not good enough. Eventually, they learn to be invisible.”
It is in such moments of discouragement that Brandon takes a pen and paper and writes.
“The universe is beauty. Life is beauty. I am beautiful, and I am happy.”
Brandon Wint’s CD of spoken poems The Long Walk Home will be released later this year.
Top Photo: Damira Davletyarova