Jamaal Jackson Rogers was named Ottawa's English-language Poet Laureate by Mayor Jim Watson in March. Rogers, a spoken word artist, arts educator, residential counsellor for adults with disabilities, and creative director of Origin Arts and Community Centre, will be the city's first poet laureate in over 25 years.
"I was born in Georgetown, Guyana. I have had Rheumatoid Arthritis since the age of 6 and was diagnosed at age 10. I grew up with a condition but it never held me back. I like studying and education – I have a degree in psychology, I'm continuing with another degree and I'm working full time in the government [laughing]! I'm pursuing my second degree in sociology and anthropology and I'm really enjoying it. I'm a strong advocate for education. I have never felt held back by my condition and I hope I can be an example for others. Like they say, if you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything!... Make sure you tell them that I'm a very independent person!"