Kathleen James

Kathleen Judith James a.k.a. "Strong" is a spoken word poet from Toronto. Kathleen is currently pursuing a Master's degree in History at Queen's University. Her area of interest is African-Canadian Studies and she will be writing her cognate essay on the history of spoken word poetry in Toronto. Kathleen is the recipient of several academic awards such as; a Desmond Hart Memorial Prize, the Women's Canadian Historical Society Award and a Queen's Graduate Award.

Kathleen has spoken at academic conferences such as the recent New Frontiers Graduate Conference and she was on the organizing committee for the Researching Black Musics and Black Music Cultures Conference which was sponsored by CBC Radio One. She is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Her poem "A Black History Moment" was featured in a journal entitled Northern Terminus and she writes articles for Toronto's Diversity News. Some of Kathleen's work will be published in an anthology of poetry, monologues and short stories entitled T-dot Griots that will be released in 2004. In the last year, Kathleen has performed at over 50 venues in Kingston, Pickering, Toronto and New York. In Toronto, she has been featured in events such as the Caribbean-Canadian Literary Expo, Westview Secondary School's Black History Month Assembly, the War and Peace Poetry Show and Peace Summit and La Parole.

During her short time in Queen's University, Kathleen has left her mark. Kathleen has written for the United Paper and Antithesis where she served as an advertising executive. She performed at venues including; the OPRIG Anti-Racism Conference, the Ban Righ Children's Story Hour, and the Adrina McCulloh Public speaking competition in which she won a prize for being the first runner-up in the competition. Since January, she hosted the ACSA/OPRIG Black History Month Poetry Event and she runs a monthly poetry series entitled "The Spoken Word Vibe" which features Kingston and Toronto artists. She was also interviewed on Kingston's Cogeco 13's "Plugged-In" in regards to her work related to spoken word in Kingston.

In the future, you can continue to catch Kathleen sharing the power of spoken word at venues in Toronto, New York and Kingston. She can be reached directly at: [email protected].

Her Story

With her name she stakes her claim to her place in history
She is not just a woman with an anonymous identity
She is Sophia Pooley
This is her story.
Born in New York to Oliver and Dinah Burthen
She was bound and gagged
Then dragged off to Canada with her sister... unwillingly.
This was her unfortunate fate and destiny
She became a slave of Joseph Brant
A Native Indian, a British Loyalist whom she served for about thirteen years
She was sold to an Englishman when she was about twenty
A short time after she became his property, she was freed
She reflected on her memories in an interview in the 1850s
Until her dying day, she chose to remain in this country.
There are many questions have not been answered in regards to her story
Did she ever marry? When she was freed was she happy?
Did she ever learn about the fate of her family?
Her spirit sleeps peacefully...
Resurrected briefly in her narrative
She rises to take her place beside Marie Josephe Angélique
She rises to take her place beside the unknown former Canadian slaves
who cannot speak slaves who cannot speak
Record of them have been forgotten, so they exist anonymously
But, she does not, she has a name and it is Sophia Pooley.
Her narrative may be disputed;
but she will forever remain in my memory
As she speaks I listen intently...
She reminds me to uncover the untold events in Canadian history
She reminds me to remember Mathieu Da Costa and the Underground Railroad
But, to also remember that Canada participated in the institution of slavery
So, I will tell future generations of her story.

© Kathleen Judith James a.k.a. "Strong 2003.