I started writing poetry as a teenager. Writing gave me a place to vent, process, and express myself. Reading at open mics led to slamming and performing regularly, and before I knew it, poetry had become part of my career path. I have found there is great validation and empowerment in being witness to ones own life through capturing it in poetry. For me, writing from a place of authenticity and transparency creates space for healing — both personal and communal.
I’ve been singing since I could talk. I remember playing “concert” and performing for my stuffed animals, singing into a hairbrush. There was never a time I didn’t know I’d grow up to be a performer. As a teenager, I fell in love with artists like Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Bob Marley, Otis Redding, Nina Simone, Sade — and I knew I wanted to make music that moved people. When songs come through, my goal is to be a clear vessel for the creativity seeking to be revealed and tune into the vibrational pull of my purpose as an artist.
When I teach poetry workshops, my goal is to set a tone where people feel comfortable enough to uncloak the superficial layers and speak from their core through writing. Sometimes all it takes is a safe space to be vulnerable and it opens the flood gates. Often, workshops become a therapeutic experience where participants tune into something they’ve been needing to look in the eye. It is a powerful thing to witness when heaviness transmutes to levity by releasing it through poetry.
Since my first class in juvenile hall nearly a decade ago as a volunteer workshop facilitator with Inside Out Writers (IOW), working with incarcerated teens has deeply resonated with me. I also work with organizations that empower women and girls, specifically those transitioning out of sex trafficking. Like many of my students, I grew up in a single parent home and had limited family resources. I see myself in each and every one of the youth I work with – the only difference is I was exposed to education and the arts in a way that provided me a different path. As the saying goes, “There but by the grace of God go I.”
I truly enjoy helping students grow, widen their horizons, and find literature that resonates and inspires. It is gratifying to watch students unfold their critical reading and writing skills and emerge confident independent thinkers. I have a personable, hands-on approach to teaching. I bring levity and humor into my teaching style, while engaging in meaningful discussions and blending critical thinking with cultural and social context.