If there is one thing that I realize over the years, it's that the grind to be my best self never ends. In August, I was named the Poet Laureate for 2020-2021 in Knoxville, TN. It is an amazing honor to be considered the caliber of poet that can present poetry for an entire city. It is also a weight that I wear with worry and stress.
I have to be honest, I never saw myself in this position. I always wanted to be recognized as a great poet one day, but the road was not very mapped out in my mind. Instead, I created and wrote to free myself and others through the words that are scribbled across my heart. I suspected that one day, my words would be enough for somebody to recognize that there was power there. I struggled comparing myself to other slam poets and artists that in my mind were better than me and had a better grasp on poetry that I ever thought I would. Nonetheless, you can't get away from something that is in your blood. I was created to be an artist and a poet, so I embrace my flaws and the glorious transitions that go through.
One question that I keep being asked is what is a poet laureate? I know what it has been in the past but I want to define what it will be for me. I want to bring poetry to spotlight in the city of Knoxville and provide a platform for poetic playwrights and spokenword artists across the country in my city. I may be crazy, but I don't think its about me. I want people to see the power that I see in words and find it within themselves to write their own story. I believe that I will write a new poem every week for the duration of my time as poet laureate to encourage everyone to grow in something that they love. I want to try to create a dialogue with people all over the city to share themselves through the arts and mostly through poetry. Maybe, I can do something wild and crazy like start a section of the newspaper dedicated to poems written by Knoxvillians. I'm just typing and thinking at the same time, so please don't hold me to any of this. All I know is that I want to see some big things come from the city of Knoxville as it pertains to poetry, and I believe that I can make those big things happen.
So yes, I am honored but I feel a weight on my shoulders. I guess that is why I have been working out because I believe I can hold this weight and inspire a city to write and share their stories as a method of healing and growth for us all.