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Lyrical Faith is masterful when she stands behind a microphone and begins to speak. The longtime spoken word poet has a way of connecting with her audience and tapping into our innermost senses as she blends words in a masterpiece soliloquy.
A Master’s degree recipient from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education & Human Development and hailing from the Bronx, Lyrical is a New York native down to her socks. She’s an active leader in her community, servicing various organizations including the Phoenix Sorority of Minisink, IMPACT Repertory Theatre, New York Urban League Young Professionals and the North Manhattan Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
JEMBE TV recently sat down with Lyrical Faith to talk about her career, love for poetry and current projects she is working on set to release this year.
How did you get started as a spoken word poet?
I’ve been writing and performing since my 6th grade English teacher introduced the art of spoken word in a poetry class unit. At the time, I wasn’t a singer or dancer like many of my other talented classmates. However, I had a love for reading and writing, and sought a creative outlet to pursue my inner passion. From there, I kept a journal and wrote every day. By the time I got to high school, I joined several organizations that exposed me to a community of creatives and became a co-founder of a spoken word poetry collective that gave me a platform to turn my words on the page to my words on the stage. Upon going away to college at Syracuse, I joined the poetry program there and really gained a support system for my words to breed life. From there, I’d like to feel as though the rest was history. Performing, slamming, competing and taking part in various events where I could showcase my talents all contributed to shaping me into the spoken word poet I define myself as today. I think the central message in my story has been that there wasn’t a definitive moment where I got started. There was only an introduction, and then a passion to keep going.
What makes you stand out amongst other artists in your genre?
I like to define myself as an educator, activist and a spoken word poet. Therefore, I know my purpose is much greater than just finishing the poem, or winning the slam, or making the team. While all those things are amazing feelings, I personally believe I have a civic duty to align my platform with my purpose. I truly feel as though my purpose is to raise awareness, motivate others, create change, and educate the future generations. I can use my voice in the fight for social justice in conjunction with my educational positionality and my artistry to hold a stake in that conversation.
Can you describe your creative process?
I write in my phone. Occasionally, I’ll write in my laptop and make sure that everything transfers up to the cloud. I think I made the switch from my notebook to my phone at some point in college when I realized I was always on the go. I think the ability for me to sit down with a pen and paper is an awesome thing but when I know I will eventually have to make it digital, I usually just speed that step along in the process. I go to a lot of open mics and poetry events to kick up my inspiration when I’m getting hit with writer’s block, and just in general. Being around other creatives helps to turn the wheels of my creative spirit. When the time is right, whether that means a traumatic event happened and I’m trying to process it in words, or I had a tiny voice inside of me that said it was time for me to write about this, I go to work and let it out. It has to be organic. If it’s not, then it won’t ever be true to me.
Do you ever collaborate with other artists/performers? If so, with whom? And what was that like?
My pieces produced with friends who I collaborated with are some of my favorite pieces. I wish more people could hear them live but it really depends on their schedules at any given time in order to determine when and where they can be performed. I have friends that are amazing artists and some (but not all) of my collaborations include Khira Niche, Victoria Juste, Noelle Kay, Gregory Wilson, and Jean Lee. However, one of my most memorable collaborations was with a South African poet by the name of Divine Keren. We created and recorded a piece together in honor of South African Women’s Day in August 2018, and I must say it was pretty awesome doing an international collaboration in the name of women’s empowerment.
Who are your favorite poets and why?
From a written standpoint, I’ve always looked up to Maya Angelou’s work growing up. From a spoken word standpoint, The Strivers Row inspired me a lot during my collegiate years. Jasmine Mans in particular had always been somebody that inspired much of my confidence and some of my content. Of course, Joshua Bennett, Carvens Lissaint, Zora Howard, Alysia Harris and Miles Hodges are all talented poets that I continue to admire and support until this day. Additionally, I’ve consistently followed the works of Rudy Francisco, Aja Monet and Mohaghany Browne. I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet and interact with all of these poets on multiple occasions and will always be a fan of everything they do.
Who are you most inspired by and why?
In life or in poetry? Truth be told, Black women with PhD’s inspire me because I know that’s where I want to land next. Black women poets who speak on their experiences of which I have not been yet able to articulate inspire me because I know that it’s still possible. Black women activists inspire me because they devote their daily lives to the causes that will make it a bit easier for the future generation to exist. So, if there’s a Black woman activist with a PhD who’s a spoken word poet, I appreciate you more than you know! Soon enough, that’ll be me.
What mark would you like to leave as a spoken word poet?
“Tell them I was a wildfire raging at night, cutting into darkness, taking every last thing on Earth I came into contact with and making it light. Tell them I was a concrete road, still learning how to ride a bike. Tell them I was merely an empty sky, just waiting to fly a kite.” I think my piece “Tell Them” pretty much sums up the answer to this. You can find it on my YouTube page. But if I can entertain the thought further, I would say I want to be remembered as the poet who did not hold back, got people to think differently, and sparked the mind that will go on to change the world (thanks, Tupac).
What advice would you have for someone who is inspired by you to pursue their dreams as a spoken word artist?
Never stop writing. If it’s a rainy day, if it’s a sunny afternoon, if it’s a snowy night, tell the page how it makes you feel. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.