The fall and rise of Wakefield Brewster

Hip-hop tinged spoken word artist recovers from nasty accident

For someone who recently knocked his teeth out while sleepwalking Wakefield Brewster is remarkably articulate carefully annunciating every detail of his grisly accident.

“In November I fell down — literally — on the bottom stair on my face and broke out teeth” he says. “It’s taken three surgeries and 21 sutures to mend my mouth back together.”

For the past six weeks the slam poet and rapper has been sidelined from his usual circuit of shows confined to his couch — doing his best to hold down Tylenol 3 and Percocet — and going through rehab in order to learn how to speak again. Needless to say Brewster’s pretty enthralled at the idea of performing again; he’s rehearsing daily learning to deal with the scar tissue around his face and has constructed a solid-sounding set in the process.

“I’m going to address black history: I have poems that I’ve written that talk about the history the struggle the accomplishments the overcoming. And then I’ve got some poems about throwing your A-game down for Valentine’s Day. It’s gonna be some black loving on the mic” he says laughing.

While the injury’s obviously been a traumatic one it’s nothing that can’t be trumped by Wakefield’s experience in the scene. After moving to Calgary from Toronto eight years ago he’s captained three city-wide slam poetry teams (in 2006 2008 and 2009) taught spoken word in dozens of venues — ranging from kids in kindergarten to university students in masters programs — and consistently performed around 100 sets a year.

There’s plenty coming up for Brewster beyond the Friday show too with workshops at schools and Black History gigs filling the schedule. Writing and recording is back on the plate as well; Brewster’s first two efforts were titled east2west and da lyrical pitbull . He’s be working again with Daniel Martins of Spanish Fly Records with recording sessions anticipated to begin after the school year wraps up (as a single dad with two daughters he’s got a lot to keep him busy until then). But that doesn’t mean he’s going to hold off on the creative process for the album — which will predominantly feature spoken word with a scattering of hip-hop throughout — until then.

“I catch inspiration driving down the road in a mall making a transaction at a register with a clerk” he explains. “Anything can trip me off. Being severe ADD/ADHD I don’t look at them as disabilities. I look at them as extra abilities because then I can pay attention to a whole lot more things around me and process it all a lot faster. I’ve gotten used to it and instead of fighting it and dulling it with meds I’ve pretty much embraced it and just let things wash over me. I have a great sense of retention so you go out the door and it’s like being a sponge. I just start to suck in the world around me.”