"I thank God for my every remembrance of you."
Two things have always been constant in my life: my faith and my poetry. For more than 25 years, I have been a featured poet, lecturer, and workshop leader for a wide variety of poetic events for civic, community, and faith-based organizations.
In 2005 a close friend of mine who happened to be the Program Director of a transitional home for HIV+ homeless women asked me if I would come read poetry to the residents during one of their group sessions. I quickly declined. Every so often she would ask me again. Each time I said, “No.”
The next year, 2006, I had a change of heart. Mostly because of much my friend believed in me. She would say things like, “You can do it. Your poetry heals. They’ll love you.” I had written her wedding poem just a few months before and her confidence in me was stronger than my own. I finally said, “Okay, I’ll do it.”
To say that I was terrified is an understatement. At the time, all I had was common a knowledge of HIV Aids and even less knowledge about homelessness. I felt very inadequate. But then I remembered everything that poetry had been to me, and its benefits to mankind throughout history - from the Psalms, to Shakespeare, to the Early American Poets, to the Harlem Renaissance, to the Beat Poets of the 60’s, to the influence poetry had on the birth of rap and hip hop, to the powerful Spoken Word Artists of the new millennium - poetry has inspires people of all ages and all backgrounds.
With all of this in mind, I got ready for my first poetry reading outside of the church walls. This was four years before I published my first book of poetry, so at the time, all of my poems were typed and categorized into 3-ring binders. I grabbed one and headed out. When the hour was over, I was on cloud nine. I remember whispering a little prayer right there in my car on a little side street in South Philadelphia, “Lord, if I could this every day for a living, I would!”
That was the beginning of me connecting my gift of poetry with volunteering for community service and I have never looked back. Each year I look for a new organization to work with. I still accept engagements within the faith community but I’m always careful to carve out some time for volunteer work and God has blessed that I have never had to sacrifice one for the other. I have learned that there is enough time in the day to do both.
I am forever grateful to my dear friend, Sue White, for allowing God to use her to bring me in to her facility. It was the push I needed to launch out into the deep, to minister beyond the four walls of the church, to truly, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel” (Mark 16:15) I just happen to do that through poetry.
About This Blog
This blog is inspired by my first book, A Time To Write: Inspirational Poetry for All Seasons. Thank you for visiting!