K Love the Poet is a spoken word artist, motivational speaker. She made her poetry debut in 2003 in the heart of Chicago. Since 2015 she has had more than three videos to go viral. She is well known for empowering people of color with her signature poem “Million Dollar Melanin.” As poetry month comes to an end, we spoke with K Love about her poetry journey.
What was your first experience with poetry?
My earliest memory of attaching to poetry is when my grandmother was a principal. Before she became a principal, she was a teacher and she had a fifth-grade classroom and was doing the poetry unit with them. She had to memorize this poem about Harriet Tubman called “Harriet Tubman Didn’t Take No Stuff.”
I remember her challenging me at 10-years-old to memorize that poem. I remember liking the fact that I was able to retain it. After that, maybe 9th grade, I was writing poetry to entertain my friends in school, but I didn’t take it seriously. I was 21 when I was taken on a date to an open mic poetry set. I didn’t know that those things even existed. I didn’t have any desire on being a poet, but I walked into that place on New Year’s Eve of 2002 and I saw what was happening I immediately said, “Oh, I could do this for the rest of my life.” The February after that, I went to open mic and performed and I never stopped.
How do you prepare to create new work and encapsulate that work in a book?
I pride myself on transparency, vulnerability, authenticity, and honesty. Preparing is just living for me and being honest about where I am in life at that time. Sometimes I’m moved to write about it. Sometimes I’m not. I am hyper-aware that this gift belongs to God first and me second. I can’t just wake up and say, I’m going to write a poem. I have to be moved. It has to be something real, my real feelings, and most of the time, real experiences. Then that might turn into a poem. After a series of poems, there might be the thought to do a book, and I’ll go forward with God’s blessings.
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