Many different places I’ve been to in my travels have been inspirations in my writings. One place that continues to come back to mind is Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Through being a performing poet and touring writer poetry has granted me the ability to travel to many cities across North America and I haven’t returned to any city as many times as I have Toronto. It is an extremely culturally and economically diverse city that will catch the awe of anyone who is new to being there.
For an American, Toronto is the closest it will come to an American city outside of the United States but it is still very distinctly Canadian. The locals are very kind and helpful, and not too busy for someone unfamiliar with the area. Transit is another thing there that caught my eye. Cars and cabs frequent the city but natives of Toronto know how to effectively navigate their way around the metropolis using trolleys, trains, buses, bikes and their pair of adventurous feet. Although it is such a large city it doesn’t feel overwhelming being amongst all the hustle and bustle of it.
There are many artistic events and venues to see while there. One time I traveled to town I performed for the Toronto Poetry Slam at the Drake Hotel. The Drake is a lavish historical hotel and the theater style performance space they have for the poetry slam is both beautiful and very spacious. Another event I got to take part in was in the Great Hall theatre space in the downtown area. It was an innovative event as I’ve been in many poetry slams and events before, but this one was held in a boxing ring with Canadian celebrities as judges among many other elements. It was truly a spectacle not only as a participator in the show but for everyone present to watch the event. Seeing the city and the world from the perspective of the people who live there was definitely different, entertaining and interesting.
The diverse food is delicious. Everyone I had met in town suggested a dish called poutine to me. Very skeptical, I tried it and it ended up being gravy cheese fries very akin to American chilli cheese fries. The key difference is that there were many options you could have added to make it cater to your own tastes. For something more unique a friend took me out to eat at Addis Ababa. This Ethiopian food restaurant was not only very authentic but it was incredibly tasty and the staff was very generous and friendly.
It appeared to be generally peaceful there and an odd harmony existed between the people and animals. I saw pigeons walk the street amongst humans and squirrels fat from feeding walk right up to people if they were offering food. It isn’t a docile city at all though as on more than one occasion I’ve seen peaceful political protests in the streets of the city. There is definitely an interesting narrative going on within the lives of people living in Toronto. There is so much diversity and contrast happening between people that are merely feet away from each other.
When I’ve sat down to write I find these experiences and many others that I have had coming to mind. It is a second home to me, and I have revisited numerous times, finding something new on each venture. Toronto is definitely an inspiring city, seemingly having something for everyone and possessing many facets and sides to it.
About the Author: Deonte Osayande is a poet, performer and instructor from Detroit, Mi. His poems have appeared in over a dozen publications. He has toured across the United States and Canada, but when not traveling spends his time teaching creative writing to inner city youth.
Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter our next Travel Writing competition and tell your story.