This month’s talk on loss will explore the loss of personal identity, and how the labels that we place upon ourselves and others shut down valuable communication.

In a world where society has become increasingly divided by political associations, racial divides, gender issues and lifestyle choices, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the question of how we connect as people. This month’s talk on loss will explore the loss of personal identity, and how the labels that we place upon ourselves and others shut down valuable communication. The speaker will discuss how he uses Art as a cultural translator in order to reopen dialogues and encourage connection over isolation. To mark the end of Movember, Hugh will share his personal struggle with masculinity, how he uses poetry to connect people and draw on his mentoring work with ‘at risk’ young men to explore how we can begin to rethink masculinity as well as better communicate gender issues.

About the speaker

How art can help us find our voices and connect again.

In a world where society has become increasingly divided by political associations, racial divides, gender issues and lifestyle choices, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the question of how we connect as people. This month’s talk on loss will explore the loss of personal identity, and how the labels that we place upon ourselves and others shut down valuable communication. The speaker will discuss how he uses Art as a cultural translator in order to reopen dialogues and encourage connection over isolation. To mark the end of Movember, Hugh will share his personal struggle with masculinity, how he uses poetry to connect people and draw on his mentoring work with ‘at risk’ young men to explore how we can begin to rethink masculinity as well as better communicate gender issues.

About the speaker.

When introduced to the stage for the first time Hugh was asked “So what is something interesting I can tell your audience?” by his high-school principal. Ever practical and never one to take himself too seriously, at the age of 15 he responded, “I’m short and I play the violin”.

Since that first appearance on stage, Hugh has worked tirelessly across a range of social causes and artistic pursuits to connect and facilitate discussions between groups who are often found in opposition. Hugh seeks to be a translator, using poetry to highlight social issues and help groups see past their own labels to better connect as people. These pursuits have led to conversations with the Dalai Lama and spiritual leaders from his mother’s home in Thailand who described a young Hugh as “having old eyes” which they believed were a sign of wisdom.

As a spoken word poet and presenter, Hugh draws upon his wide range of experiences from near-death encounters in foreign countries, recovering from an emotionally abusive relationship, and a different type of love story which taught him how to write a love poem. His pieces seek to explore these dark places and act as a light for those who may also be in dark places of their own. This led to his stage name; Candle.

For the last 8 years, Hugh has been working as a mentor at the National Aspiring Leaders Forum on Faith and Values. In this role, he helps young leaders understand their journey through life and the values they bring to their leadership philosophy. As a speaker at high schools and community groups, he uses poetry and a straightforward conversation style to work with young men on various topics including healthy relationships, the importance of dreaming and to discuss modern masculinity. Although he would never claim to be an expert in these areas or to have all the answers, he hopes that by sharing the stories about how he found a voice through art, it will provide some insight into how we can rediscover our own.

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