Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What are "Urban Toronto Tales" ?

The word "urban" is a sticky one. It's extremely general, has multiple definitions that mean multiple things in multiple instances...yet it still manages to define an entire culture, movement, and demographic.

Yes, "urban" at it's core means "of the city"...however, over the years it has also come to specifically mean "emerging and developing in densely populated areas of large cities, esp those populated by people of African or Caribbean origin."

Hip-hop culture or "black" culture used to have strong racial connotations...however, it's fair to say that while culture does play a huge part in the composition of an "urban" entity...the culture no longer specifies race or heritage. The culture is a movement of it's own, and is easily comprised of individuals from a variety of ethnicities.

The "Urban Toronto Tales" are specifically about the urban/city culture of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and those who are a part of. The people of Toronto who have built the urban culture from conception. The first- and second-generation Canadians of African, Caribbean...but also South Asian, Filipino, and other cultures that are just as much a part of the creation and maintenance of the culture.

The people of Toronto are urban by nature. By location. However, in the spirit of the culture is strongly based on African and Caribbean traditions and musical influences. Perhaps the "black" culture is more closely tied to urban culture...however, it is not mutually inclusive.

I have written the "Urban Toronto Tales" novel and short story collection predominently from a "black" perspective, only because it is the perspective that I know. One of the early lessons I learned as a writer was to "write what you know" and the authenticity can not be questioned.

I know Caribbean culture, from a Canadian perspective. I know "black" culture, and the elements of growing up as a first-generation black Canadian. I am intimately connected to this experience, therefore it is the basis of what I write.

I write these stories from a place of familiarity. I write these stories from a place of passion. I write these stories from a place of love. I write these stories becuase the Canadian "urban" culture is one that I have seen develop, and grow, and begin to define itself...and I want my stories to represent the interpersonal experiences, the conversations, and the slight nuances of this culture that may not easily be captured in other mediums.

So while the music, the fashion, the entertainment, and the overall character of what it means to be "urban" Canadian continues to expand and define itself over time, my stories are a literary snapshot of what this means as a citizen of Toronto, developing alongside the culture.

There are currently 8 stories in this collection (possibly more) that each reflect a period in time. From adolescence in the early 1990's, high school in the late 1990's, college/university life in the early 2000's, and then firm adulthood, matured relationships, and career building in the late 2000's. The stories have grown with me, as I have observed the culture growing.

Reflecting our "urban" culture in a way that has not yet been captured in literature. Putting the experiences on pages, and documenting them as a part of our Canadian history. My testament to a city I love and respect, through characters that reflect the heart of the culture, and the true faces of our beloved city.

For more information about the "Urban Toronto Tales" novel and short story collection by Stacey Marie Robinson, please visit http://KyaPublishing.com.

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