Sunday, September 27, 2015

About Prologue's new clip: "What are we fighting for" by Andre Prefontaine
Why we did it
When we first heard spoken word artist Andre Prefontaine deliver the poem we asked him to pen for the 2015 Prologue Children's Festival, we were blown away! So was everyone present in the audience. There wasn't a dry eye in the room! The response was so overwhelming, we created this clip.
Prologue’s CLIP is a passionate piece on how the Arts help many children find their voice and express themselves at school. (Scroll down for the full text.)

About the creators of Prologue's clip
Two-time Canadian SLAM champion Andre Prefontaine is part of All-Star Slam, a company on our roster who came up with a very interactive concept to empower youth. Together with his colleagues, former world poetry SLAM champion Ian Keteku and YouTube phenom Sabrina Benaim, the professional poets engage in a competition hosted by Brendan McLeod and judged by the students.

The clip was filmed and edited by Nicholas Porteous, a young director/videographer who does promo clips from time to time. (You can see them in his YouTube playlist.)

Our clip was filmed in Toronto revitalized Regent Park, graced with the permanent public art by Dan Bergeron, commissioned by the City of Toronto.

What are we fighting for?
Written and performed by Andre Prefontaine

When asked if he was in favour of cutting arts funding during the war Winston Churchill replied:
“Then what are we fighting for?”

What are we fighting for?


Every day Jenny does a double-check
Just to make sure there aren’t any bedbugs stuck to her clothes,
She can’t stand to die from that kind of embarrassment again.
She quickly eats a balanced breakfast of a glass of water
And nervous butterflies;
That girl was born doing chin-ups off the poverty line,
But she calls them an exercise in optimism.
Jennie’s mother is a disappearing act she hasn’t seen in months,
Jennie’s father is illiterate,
But learned how to spell incarceration through definition.
Jenny’s sister inherited bi-polar disorder and full-time custody of her sibling;
You’d swear the two of them just robbed a casino
With the amount of chips on their shoulders. Man.
Sometimes life just isn’t fair.

Jenny doesn’t need another social worker
to walk in and out of her life.
What that girl needs is access to a music room.
For a twelve year old,
She has a voice that could bring Elvis to his knees,
Breath color into black and white movies.
She does it so naturally,
The birds get jealous.
But she gets shhh’ed more times than she gets encouraged
Because her humming is cited as house fly and not hummingbird in the classroom.
She’s learning to abandon her gift like a child in a basket
Every time she succumbs to the weight of textbooks;
Funny, I thought spines were supposed to keep your chin up.


Michael was born with more energy than an energizer bunny marching band parade 
Playing flight of the bumblebee at ten times the speed.
He loves dinosaurs,
Wants to have a collection of red bicycles
And his mother just realized he put his pants on backwards.
Every day Michael eats a balanced breakfast of regurgitated cognitive behavioural therapy
And Adderall,
Hops on the school bus and shrinks like a drying sponge trying to take itself out of sight.
Michael was taught that spectrum means light,
But his spectrum diagnosis makes him feel like he belongs in the shadows,
Back of class,
Out of sight out of mind.

Michael does not need a higher dosage;
What that boy needs is an art room.
He can do figure skaters on canvas with a flick of his wrist,
turn wet clay into a marble statue, 
turn graphite into real life.
But his doodles are considered an act of tax evasion in the land of paying attention,
So he gets told to sit and to focus.
He becomes a live wire spitting sparks,
And sitting restless.
He’s proof you can not treat a masterpiece like a paint-by-numbers
And expect the same results.


Stacey is a balancing act between giving up and pushing through;
She wears a heart that feels like cement shoes
And lives with a brain that feels like a knife fight.
Everyday Stacey eats a balanced breakfast of half an apple,
cut into quarters, no skin, no core.
When your brain is at war with itself,
The body becomes the battle ground,
And eating disorders have always been about control.
When it comes to food for thought though,
She puts so much poetry in her journal,
The Mona Lisa could read it, lose face and shed a tear.

Stacey does not need another guidance counselor
to tell her what she is doing is wrong.

What she needs is an audience, a chance to read what she’s written in her journal.
To have people to bear witness to her struggle
To have them come up to her afterwards and  say “thank you,
For making me feel less alone.”

Michael, Jenny and Stacey are three kids you would find in the same classroom,
Times that by ten and you have thirty individual experiences
All sitting in the same class.
Teachers were never taught how to puton a superhero cape,
But they do it anyways,
As best they can with what they have.
It’s a tough job,
Making sure that every Icarus does not fly too close to the sun,
Replacing blisters with capacity building.

I have seen it for myself,
I’ve watched students dressed as shadows emerge hibiscus flowers
The moment they were given an avenue of expression.
I have seen the most troublesome storms quell their pain the moment
they were given a chance to talk;
I have seen rainbows emerge from storm clouds.
All because of the arts.

When asked if he was in favour of cutting arts funding during the war, Winston Churchill replied with 

“Then what are we fighting for?”
It’s not so much a question of what we fight for,
But for who.

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