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First, let me begin by saying that it is a pretty awkward experience to not only write a biography about yourself, but also to justify your passion. It is no easy task finding the balance between being informative, reflective and narcissistic. But I'll give it a try.
I was born in St. Louis, Missouri, but mostly raised in Georgia [so I'm a Georgia peach by assimilation]. When I was younger, I would spend hours in my room singing along to the songs on my boombox (yes, I had one) because I just knew that I wanted to be a recording artist. Then, when I was in 5th grade, I had a teacher named Mrs. Stanley who took an invested interest in me. Sometimes that interest involved calling my mom to talk about how I couldn't sit still in class. Other times, the interest resulted in her attempting to mold my mind. One day, she had the class write a poem for an assignment. She really enjoyed my work. The next day, she asked me to stay after class and gave me a book of poems by Maya Angelou. I sat at my desk during my free period and started going through the book. That was the moment I fell in love with writing. I loved the fact that her words could come off of the page and make me feel different emotions. I wanted to recreate that feeling. Mrs. Stanley kept encouraging me to write poetry. She let me design a shoebox and every time I wrote a poem, I'd slip it in there. When we had free time, she'd read my poetry with me and talk about my work.
My love for writing never died, but during my senior year of high school, I decided to apply to college to be a business major. In my mind, I would be good at it and could find myself working for a large corporation making good money. When I shared this plan with my mother, she was not supportive. She said to me, "Why would you be a business major? You love English. You love writing. If you're going to go to school, you need to study what you're passionate about." Not a lie was told. I loved everything about writing and literature. My grades indicated that I was pretty great at it as well. I began visiting colleges and inquiring about their English programs. During the winter, I went to visit one college all the way in Minnesota during a blizzard. That alone should have made me re-think applying, but I met a great group of people who welcomed me warmly. A few of them were poets and one night, we had a poetry cypher. I listened to them perform their spoken word pieces and I was amazed. I fell in love with the raw emotion, passion and flow that exuded as they shared their work with me. I was almost too nervous to share my own poems, but I did it anyway. They provided both validation and constructive criticism. The most important thing they told me was this: "Keep writing." When it came time for me to decide what my future would look like, I chose that liberal arts college far away from the south, warmth, and sun. I enrolled at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota and received a B.A. in both English and American Racial and Multicultural Studies. At Olaf, I began to truly define myself. I was a woman who loved my history and my culture. I was confident and self-assured. I even became aquainted with the stage and began performing spoken word on campus. It was also at Olaf that I created my first book of poetry titled [Woman]ifesto (enjoy some excerpts in the Poetry section).
After graduation, I moved to Little Rock, Arkansas as a Corps Member for City Year. I worked with 9th grade students, believing that I wanted to be a teacher. When I realized that the politics of public education didn't sit well with me, I decided to pursue other endeavors. While there, I shared some of my work with the corps. After hearing me recite some poetry at an open mic night we hosted, one corps member began referring to me as "The Poetess". He told me that every time I talked, I sounded like I was reciting poetry. He never called me Tiffany again. For whatever reason, that named has stayed with me. It encompasses the artist I desire to be: transparent, vulnerable, honest, and charismatic. I see the Poetess as a storyteller. Be it poetry, short essays, blogs, videos, or novels (eventually), I want to tell stories that help people connect, disconnect and re-connect. I want people to be moved, no matter how that looks.
Writing is my passion, and I'm here to share it with you.