National Poetry Month Celebration
Bio: SeKeithia Johnson aka Queen Gyre is the founder of Unleashed Talent Productions; an organization started in high school now operating nine years, utilizing poetry and theater as therapeutic techniques for motivating youth to: “break chains to breakthrough pain via a poetic experience." Upon graduating high school SeKeithia was selected to represent the state of Maryland in, “Youth Speaks: Brave New Voices National Teen Poetry Slam Competition”, a series now featured on HBO; as an adult she became a coach to the new generation of Maryland slam poets entering the competition. In 2009, she was featured in award-winning filmmaker Mary Mazzio’s TEN9Eight documentary on the NFTE business plan competition which was released in selected movie theaters worldwide and later television networks BET and Centric.
SeKeithia began writing poetry at the age of eight, inspired by her mother a published author and poet as well as the reality that youth face trust and rejection issues that prevent them from seeking the help they ultimately need. Sharing with youth that it is okay to talk about the things they deal with enabled SeKeithia to find her purpose. Driven by negative circumstances but inspired through the healing of art fuels the passion that SeKeithia incorporates into Unleashed Talent and it is felt in every performance and moves audiences to seek clarity, understanding as well as peace within their own lives.
While in the process of making her business a registered non-profit organization, SeKeithia is mastering her greatest accomplishment yet; raising her daughter whom she affectionately named Lyric. She is currently a year round mentor, data analyst for the Department of Homeland Security, as well as a contracted artist for PG Parks and Planning providing workshops, performances and occasionally hosting their monthly teen open mic “Café Groove”. For the past seven years PG Parks and Planning has held a week long overnight camp in the summer, “Expressions: Talk Up Not Down Teen Poetry Camp” in which SeKeithia is also one of the instructors. Still considering herself a "diamond in the rough" SeKeithia is determined to live a life dedicated to seeking peace and understanding regardless of the circumstance in order to live a life full of happiness and most importantly self love.
Where do you draw your inspiration from to write poetry?
My inspiration to write poetry comes from experiencing and/or witnessing pain and/or misfortune. I see it, I feel it, I analyze it. I want to understand it and find a way to overcome it even if its not my place to do so, so i write.
What advice do you have for someone that is threatened by poetry?
Whenever I encounter someone who says they "cant" write poetry or are "afraid" I simply remind them that poetry is what you make it. It is your moment to say and feel just how you want to without anyone judging, questioning, over analyzing or thinking you are abnormal. Poetry is like the bestfriend that truly wont tell your secrets, it allows you to be as creative, silly, irrational, moody, etc. but will allow you to disclose that information to the public yourself. It provides security, therapy, and a chance to gain understanding. Its spiritual.
What is an interesting fact about you?
An interesting fact about me would be that I am extremely shy. When I first started performing in highschool I would always go completely blank while on stage forgetting everything, over time I learned to breathe and to just be in the moment always staying focused on my purpose but I still experience extreme nervousness after performing when it is time to accept the accolades for my work and be introduced to the audience.
Where are you from / Where do you live?
I am from Southeast Washington, DC and currently reside in Landover, MD.
Who is your favorite poet?
My favorite poet is Saul Williams. He has revolutionized poetry for me. When I first heard him it was if I fell into a trance. He is complex, honest, raw, his instrumentals tug at my spirit, his lyrics liberate me in a way that makes me embrace my uniqueness. Not all artist can evoke that type of emotion especially out of another artist. I admire his creativity and strive to be an artist like him that has no limits, no genre, just purpose.
Washington Post: http://www.nfte.com/sites/default/files/shes_not_mean_at_all_shes_strict.pdf