And now the obligatory list of accomplishments in no particular order:
2007 Presidential Community Service Award
2012 Emerging Leader Award – Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
2013 Emerging Artist Award – Delta Sigma Theta, Inc _ Federal City Chapter
2019 Mary Bowman Award for Service Through Artistry – 2019 International Conference on HIV Stigma
Member of the 2016 City-Wide District Karaoke Champions – “Minority Report”
Co-Author – From Gumbo To Mumbo
o Winner of “Best Of Show” – 2019 Charm City Fringe Festival
o Nominated for “Outstanding Production – Theatre for Young Audiences” – Helen Hayes Awards 2020
2021 “Male” Poet Of The Year – DMV Renaissance Awards
Ok… now… does that change your opinion of me as a writer? Probably not. If you’ve found my little blog, you either know me, really dig typos, or scroll along the bottom of the wordpress.com forums to give pity reads. Either way, I celebrate you for finding me, but I know that no amount of accolades will add value to my words.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy when institutions tune-in on the smaller creatives and share some of the light. That can be incredibly beneficial for small businesses, struggling artists, and those finding their voice; all of which I am. But this post isn’t about exposure, it’s about value.
I value my words based on what they do; to an audience, but first, what they do to me. I am a largely flawed and traumatized person. I’ve seen some things. Living in my hometown, I’m often in some of the places where lifelong traumas were committed. I’m in a constant state of “triggered”. With that, I’ve found myself working to make my personal space and art as much of a place for re-centering as possible. When I write, I am writing for self first.
There are some that view “writing for self” as a selfish phrase. To that I say “So?” There is a belief that writers have to embody everything for every audience member and have all the answers and make all the worlds ills make sense. This is not Harry Potter – this is real life (and JK is wildly transphobic). Writers are human too and processing the world and all its stuff with the rest of us. We are the rest of us. So why shouldn’t my work reflect my personal experience. One could almost argue that all art creation is a selfish process. But that’s a post for a different time.
For all of my accolades, there is another poet with different accolades – different prizes, more money, more fandom. Does that make their work more valuable than mine — to some, sure. But not to me. When it comes to others work, I’m an audience. The artist is giving me a gift by sharing their work. It’s not my place to judge, but to receive. Some work isn’t my cup of tea, but its someone’s. And that’s beautiful. We get too caught up in titles, winnings, and fans. We are losing our sense of self for the sake of the “blue ocean” strategy.
So be a little selfish in your work. I know I am. As long as I feel a little bit better afterwards, I know I’m doing something right 🙂
Peace, Safety, and Selfish Writing,