From heartbreak letters to helping youth

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By Colleen Marasigan

While many things are easier said than done, 20-year-old Brian Millado seems to be an expert at both word and action.

The Ryerson student is using his passion for spoken word, a creative process he finds freeing, to help other youth express their pain through poetry.

He began exploring his interest in spoken word at age 16. After seeing his first performance, he admits he wasn’t mentally or emotionally prepared for it. That’s why he decided to give it a try.

“Looking back at my first performance, it’s so embarrassing. I’m a really “jump in and do it” type of person, so I did it at the Toronto Poetry Slam four years ago,” Millado says. “I thought I was so good. Looking back, I just looked like an emotional idiot yelling a heartbreak letter on stage. But it was a learning process.”

In his poems, he typically expresses views on heartbreak, success, and the views of males, and personally shares these messages with his audience.

“I treat poetry as my vent: my method of exhausting every negative emotion out of me,” he says. “The intention is to feel liberated after each performance.”

One message he hopes to share with the youth of Toronto is to feel liberated and express oneself.

Millado is a member of Uniffect, an organization located in Toronto, that aims to help youth in “at-risk” schools express themselves through the use of spoken word. Uniffect holds biweekly workshops and meetings. The organization aims to help network and connect with currently 20-plus members, through writing and performance-based activities.

“It brings us all together to share our works,” says Millado. “It’s kind of hard when no one is listening to you in this big world.”

Since then, the Ryerson student has also participated in many other collaborations and organizations, co-founding a collective of spoken word artists: The Messengers.

Made up originally of the top five spoken word artists from the Toronto Youth Poetry Slam Team, the collective has grown to eleven with a twelfth member to be added soon. The team, who in 2011 were the first Canadian team to present at the Brave New Voices spoken word festival in California, aim to inspire through art.

“We want to offer other [eager] youth poets opportunities while inspiring them,” he says. “[We want to] expand and network all [eager] and talented youth poets across North America, and show them that you can do so much with your art.”

Spoken word is, I’d say, the most accessible art form. You don’t need anything else. Just a brain and possibly a pencil or pen. Or in this age, a smartphone. I keep most of my poems on there.”

For Millado, his smartphone is his notebook of poems, but also his calendar for keeping up-to-date on his busy schedule.

As a full-time university student, in a formula made up of time management and little free time, if you don’t find Millado doing spoken word, you’ll find him at the gym memorizing his poems, checking e-mails, promoting events, writing, doing readings on the bus, or constantly networking.

However, despite his hectic schedule, Millado hopes that his major in English and passion for spoken word will actually help him in the future.

“My main intention is to inspire and mentor youth. If I can find a career like that, that would be ideal. And with my major and minor, I wanted to pursue higher education and ultimately become a university professor teaching English. Who knows! Maybe even teaching spoken word.”

“If someone can benefit from what I have and it’s convenient and free to do so, and I enjoy what I do, why not help out?


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