Kevan Cameron is one of the most popular spoken word performers in British Columbia. Also known as Scruffmouth, Kevan describes himself as a scribe and a dub poet.
I recently had an interview with Scruffmouth and he tells me who he is and what he does.
Gibril Koroma: Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Kevan Cameron: My name is Scruffmouth, I am a scribe and dub poet. You could say that I am a published writer and a professional spoken word artist.
GK: How would you describe your performance and who inspired you to do what you do?
KC: I would describe my spoken word performance as dub poetry and I have been inspired by generations of writers, poets, emcees and oral traditionalists such as Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Melvin Tolson, Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, Chinua Achebe, Amiri Baraka, Gil Scott-Heron, The Last Poets, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Mutabaruka, Lillian Allen, Afua Cooper, Dwayne Morgan, Wayde Compton, Saul Williams, Chuck D., KRS-One, Jeru the Damaja, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Maestro, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali.
GK: Is this what you do for a living or just something you do for fun or as a hobby?
KC: Yes, I am a professional spoken word artist. I also do this for fun.
GK: Are there any other African-Canadians doing what you do or are you the only African-Canadian doing this?
KC: There are plenty of African-Canadians doing spoken word. In Nova Scotia, you have artists like Shauntay Grant, Reed Jones and El Jones; in Ottawa, you have artists like Anthony Bansfield, Greg “Ritalin” Frankson, John Akpata, Prufrock, Ian “Emcee E” Keteku, Brandon Wint, Komi Olafimihan, Ikenna Onyegbula; in Toronto there are artists like Dwayne Morgan, d’bi young anitafrika, Keisha Monique, Truth Is, and across Canada there are artists like Tanya Evanson, Andrea Thompson, Jen Kunlire, Titilope Sonuga and an entire network of astounding African-Canadian spoken word talent speaking words of power.
GK: What advice would you have for a young Canadian interested in doing this kind of work?
KC: My advice would be to respect the elders and ancestors who came before them and build on the foundation of the poetree of knowledge which has deep roots. Read, write, listen and speak as a matter of study your thoughts will create a reality for your truth to be spoken. If you are interested in doing this kind of work then you are also interested in knowledge of self which is a responsibility to use your knowledge wisely. If I could sum it all up in Seven Laws of Spit, they would be:
Spit not in the wind.
Be not too proud to spit your truth out loud.
Spit not lest ye be spit upon.
Actions spit harder than words.
The best spitter is a better listener.
As a man thinketh, so he spitteth.
A word spat is a bond in tact.
GK: Please tell us about some of the places you have performed since you started?
KC: I have performed in Vancouver, Victoria, Halifax, New York, Washington D.C., Austin, Denver, Milwaukee, Madison, Seattle, Calgary, Ottawa, Edmonton and many other cities; places as boring as Boise, and as far away as Nairobi. I enjoy travelling to cities that have rich historical merit.
GK: What's the origin of the name Scruffmouth?
KC: My brother gave me the name Scruffmouth originally to describe my facial hair. When I started spitting poetry, I thought the title was an appropriate stage and pen name. I am also known as Kevan Cameron.