The “Crochet Kingpin” In His Words
The most difficult part of writing an artist statement is the opening line. How does someone capture their artistry in a series of words? As a poet, I imagine this seems counterproductive; discussing the difficulties of using words, to convince you that I ultimately have a way with words. As an artist, it is this level of transparency that I offer to a reader or audience member. I aim to bring people into my life; to share experiences, and have a greater understanding of humanity as a result.
I write poetry from a deep-seated need to be understood. I’ve spent a healthy amount of my 36 years documenting my life as a Southeast DC native, in hopes of claiming a stitch in the fabric of Southeast’s tapestry. As one of the hosts of DC’s longest running open mic series, Spit Dat DC, and venue host captain for Busboys and Poets 450K; one could say I’ve been successful. I consider the reaction of readers or an audience as my barometer for success. While I don’t write for the audience, I hope that I am a reflection of something true in their lives. Whether rapping about the changing face of Southeast, the joy of raising my son, or the ache Black communities feel every time another name becomes a hashtag; my work stands as an ambassador’s journal opened to the world.
In addition to writing and sharing my poetry, I’ve worked to create safer spaces for youth and young adults to share and create art. Through my advocacy work with Metro TeenAIDS (now recognized as RealTalkDC) I created Floetic Fridays at Freestyle; a monthly youth-led open mic. Through the 15 years of Floetic Fridays, many youth have found their voices as poets, singers, and performers. In addition to offering a platform for their artistic talents, Floetic Fridays offers free HIV/STI/and pregnancy screening. I believe that as an artist hoping to benefit from a public audience, I have the obligation to promote and support the public.
Ultimately, all of the art I’m connected to is in hopes of making the world safer for my son. I’ve struggled to articulate my love for him in words, much like the opening of this artist statement. Through my actions as an HIV educator, in facilitating safer spaces for artists to be artists, and finding personal healing through my poetry; I’m informing the attitudes of my 12-year-old, inspiring him to create works, celebrate wins and failures, and be an accepting kid in a demanding world. If my work as an artist is to create something better for this world, then my son is my greatest work.
And now the obligatory list of accomplishments in no particular order:
• He still lives in his hometown of Washington DC and paid his mortgage on time.
• 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
• Golden Testicle Award – Harikaraoke Band
• CEO of Crochet Kingpin LLC, but doesn’t introduce himself with his title.
• 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
• Guest Curation:
o Kennedy Center REACH – Kingpin’s Court Arts Festival
o The Music Center at Strathmore
o Whitman-Walker Health’s RealTalkDC
o The Corner at Whitman-Walker Health
o Woolly Mammoth Theater Company
o Keegan Theatre
• Featured Readings:
o #AzaniaToDC Arts Exchange – DC Commission of the Arts and Humanities and National Arts Council of South Africa
o The Weary Blues – Celebration of Langston Hughes 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
o Busboys and Poets Anacostia, Shirlington, 450K, 14th & V, Hyattsville, Takoma Park
o SAGAfest Iceland 2015
o Spirits and Lyrics NYC, Manassas
o C2EA “We Can End AIDS” March
o The Mansion at Strathmore
o 826DC’s The Lowercase