“I went full force into exhibiting beauty, culture, naturalism, feminism and the power of individualism, or what many say: being unapologetically yourself, through social media and the next thing I knew I was featured in Essence, Billboard, Shea Moisture, Ispy, and Sa Beauty.” – Poetree
I caught up with Poetree and we chatted about success in 2019, her journey as an “artpreneur”, and how she deals with adversity.
When did you start writing and performing poetry?
Poe: “I started writing poetry at 12 years old. I remember I was in my math class when I wrote it, in the middle of a lesson. I performed one of my pieces in high school at a talent show. The feed back and reactions discouraged me a lot even though I never expressed it to anyone. After that, I wasn’t as willing to share my work. I started performing poetry again around 19 years old. My first open mic was at the NuyoRican cafe in New York and it was perfect! The reactions, support and feeling I got afterwards was confirmation that I wasn’t wrong about sharing what was so private for so long.”
Who are some of your favorite poets and influences?
Poe: “My top favorite poets are Audre Lorde and Tupac, hands down. Pac’s “The Rose That Grew From Concrete” autobiographical collection of poetry is what inspired me to move forward in collecting my own work and aspirations to start my first book. I can relate deeply to Lorde as a black woman in the public eye. She was willing to express her anger and outrage on aspects about society beyond her control: sexuality, race and gender issues. I see myself in her writing as she readily describes herself as a woman who’s willing to stand up for what she believes in and for who she is entirely.”
What do you love most about being a creative and a writer?
Fluidity. As a creative I am happy to know that I am multifaceted. The word “creative” has no face just an ever changing body. This body develops over time and, if it’s not taken care of, can be unfit or unhealthy. I’m proud to know that if I can’t dance today I can model or write tomorrow and if I can’t write I will speak, or sing, or perform. A creative is a literal branch of creativity walking around on earth and being a writer, specifically, is just one aspect of it. I willingly embrace all parts of my creativity.”
Tell us more about “The Introduction to Divine Feminine Energy”
Poe: “TIDFE is the title of my first work of writing. It’s a collection of poetry and prose from a feminine lense explaining the theme of life experiences and how it can help in understanding an individual’s divine femininity. It explores the struggles of a young femme and how she comes to terms with the life that was given to her and the life she wants to create for herself. It visits the subjects of mental, physical and emotional abuse, relationships, friendships, education, sexuality, race, gender and gender expression. It’s very near and dear to my heart. I recently decided to add more to the book before publishing, so I’m holding off on a release date at the moment. I am looking to release during the spring season though.”
What are your favorite and least favorite things about being an “artreprenuer”?
Nothing is linear, especially at the beginning. I make it look easy but I hear “no” every single day. During times like that, I can lose confidence and end up comparing myself to everyone else. I always feel the need to be working, 24/7, even though that’s not good for anyone. My level of anxiety fluctuates a lot too. Even though I don’t like any of these aspects, it’s still worth it. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I would chose this path every single time. It hurts to fail, no doubt, but the feeling I get when I succeed in what I do is worth…so much more than the pain I feel when I don’t.”
Has a mistake ever led you to success?
Poe: “I’m not sure. I don’t know if something is working on me right now without even knowing it. On a smaller scale I know it happens to me a lot with dancing. I can always work with what I got because I know my body in my spirit even if my brain forgets. Even mistakes aren’t mistakes in dancing and in a lot of different aspects of life. On a bigger scale,sometimes we may think something is a mistake when actually it was written into our lives way before we are born. So, it’s hard to say.”
What do you love most about your work space?
Poe: “It’s quiet! I need peace and quiet for me to work especially if it’s writing related. It doesn’t matter where just as long as it’s quiet. Every other time of the day I am tending to other thoughts and other energy forces but when I need to work or need my quiet time it’s because I want to focus on my mind and my energy only.”
What is your personal & professional motto?
Poe: “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” I found this quote online and got it tattooed up my left shin at the end of my high school career. I’ve always experienced a great deal of pain throughout but when I realized that I have WAY more control over my life than I think I do, I changed for the better.
“This is a giving world. If I give, you give, if we all give…no one would ever be in need.”
I made this quote after being inspired by one of my own poems. I wrote a poem based on my time in a relationship that ultimately left me feeling like my cup was empty. I was upset that my cup was empty but more upset that others never bothered to pour into my cup, regardless if I poured into theirs. I learned and now I know but I give unto because it is my duty… not to receive anything in return.”
In moments of adversity of setbacks, how you build yourself back up?
Poe: “Quiet time! Relaxation! Writing! Studio time. Taking a break and diving into what makes me happy is what keeps me pushing. Though I am doing my passions for income sometimes assignments can be overbearing and when they are I have to step away and remind myself why my passion is my passion in the first place..then I come back to the assignment.”
What can we expect from you in 2019?
Poe: “I don’t want to spoil it too much, but you can expect my book, a book tour, workshops for my community, music and more performances! I’ll be showing my raw self much much more often, but I want you to wait and see!”
My name is Alana, better known as, Poe or Poetree. I am 22 years old and, in short, an artist. I was born in South Jersey to a Black, Panamanian and Native “American” (Indigenous) mother and an absent Puerto Rican father. I was raised and home-schooled in Fajardo, Puerto Rico and then moved back to the states around 2005. My family and I returned to New Jersey where I finished middle school as valedictorian, high school as one of the Top Ten and college as a first generation graduate with my Bachelors Degree in English Literature and Sociology with a concentration in Social Deviance.
Throughout my youth I experienced many of my own traumas and struggles from sexual, mental and physical abuse, homelessness, familial and neighborhood violence and death, to witnessing drug abuse and it’s effects it had on me and my family. All of my experiences, and my need to break generational cycles, pushed me to my art and the expression of it to cope with all of the aspects of my life that I could not control. I started formal dance training when I was 9 years old and writing poetry at 12 years old. From then I tried my best to incorporate it into my life because it kept me sane. I ended up performing all over Newark, NJ, at my schools, and eventually I made it to The Apollo stage in Harlem, NY at just 16 years old.
I experienced the underground dance culture with my own dance crew named “Wikked” and even pushed, sang, slept and danced on the streets of New York for auditions, opportunities and money. Throughout my time in college it was hard for me to discover exactly what I wanted to do because it was always expressed to me that my art was just that…art and possibly a hobby. Even though this was always expressed to me it wasn’t how I felt about myself. I decided to turn my art into my income.
By the time I was a junior I had made myself into my own brand. I wasn’t ashamed to say that I was an artist, an artpreneur, a dancer, a poet, a model and a performer. While in college I was the captain and choreographer of the beautiful dance team and the passion I put into that team is what gave me the confidence to put back into myself and what I wanted for my life. I went full force into exhibiting beauty, culture, naturalism, feminism and the power of individualism, or what many say: being unapologetically yourself, through social media and the next thing I knew I was featured in Essence, Billboard, Shea Moisture, Ispy, Sally Beauty,
Byrdie Beauty, BET, MTV, Revolt TV, local blogs on top of blogs and more. I always thought my life was a long road of struggle, pain and misunderstanding but I’ve come to realize is that my life just begun.
Poetree’s Social Media
Instagram: @poeism // @poetreethefeminist