For former AMS president Greg Frankson, Artsci’97, Ed’99, the process of realizing his dream job as a creative services consultant and spoken word artist has been a gradual one.
For former AMS president Greg Frankson, Artsci’97, Ed’99, the process of realizing his dream job as a creative services consultant and spoken word artist has been a gradual one. In 2001, Greg left his job teaching high school math in Quebec and moved to Ottawa to pursue analyst work with the federal government. It was while he was settling into city life that he discovered “spoken word,” which he describes as “an art form based on poetry that is performed aloud from memory.” By 2004, he was performing regularly under the stage name of Ritallin, and in 2007 he launched his now booming creative services consultancy, Cytopoetics.
“Spoken word is a way for me to perform my words without being tied to the basic conventions of popular music,” explains Greg, who performed hip-hop during his time at high school and at Queen’s. “Sometimes in music people want you to try to write what will sell as opposed to what you really want to talk about. Spoken word gives me the freedom to talk about issues I really care about.”
Those issues are both meaningful and diverse, with the majority of Greg’s performances and advocacy focusing on youth, anti-discrimination and mental health. For inspiration, he also draws on his teaching experience and on his government work in diversity, employment equity, and aboriginal issues.
Life at the helm of Cytopoetics is both busy and stimulating. As the current co-chair of the Spoken Word Canada National Youth Slam Committee, Greg is part of the group behind a new annual festival called “YouthCanSlam” to be held each August in Toronto, starting in 2013. Greg is also recognized as one of the best spoken word artists n the country and recently won the championship runner-up place in this year’s Canadian Individual Poetry Slam. An average week can see him travelling between major North American cities on Cytopoetics business – conducting radio interviews, staging school performances, performing in arts festivals, and participating in diversity and mental health training events. Greg was also a finalist on CBC’s Canada’s Smartest Person contest in March.
Over the course of the next year, Greg will be transitioning out of his government role in order to focus on making Cytopoetics into a fully functioning consultancy, training additional artists so that the group can be involved in more industries and social causes and reach more people.
“Offering creative services through Cytopoetics allows me to have a direct impact on causes that are important to me,” Greg says. “I wake up every single day passionately excited about what I’m doing.”