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 used to play “concert” and perform 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. It was as much a part of me as my breath. 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 visit to juvenile hall nearly a decade ago as a volunteer workshop facilitator withInside 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 an outlet. As the saying goes, “There but by the grace of God go I.”