Poetry 719 supports the freedom of self-expression through the spoken and written word. They strive to network with local and neighboring communities to provide a forum wherein more diverse voices can be heard, validated, and celebrated. Phillip Curtis founded the organization. Together with Christopher Beasley and Ashley Cornelius, they sponsor enriching open mic events that reflect the experiences of the diverse community that surrounds them.
I write and perform poetry pieces as a coping mechanism to deal with black people getting shot by cops. My wife saw that it bothered me a lot and suggested I create an outlet. I sat down to write out my out my feelings. It was very cathartic. I’ve been writing poetry ever since. The poetry community knows me by the alias, SkillZilla. I got that name from playing combat video games like Street Fighter and Soul Caliber. There is a large group of gamers in Colorado which I have been a part of since I was sixteen. I still play to this day. I’m a huge nerd about it.
I started attending open mic events when I first moved to Colorado about five years ago. I was blown away by the talent and passion the artists exhibited. When you feel that kind of energy, you want to be a part of it. I was drawn in and decided to write a poem or two of my own. And so, began my poetic journey. For me, poetry is a holistic, healing, mechanism. I was diagnosed with Lupus about 12 years ago. It is a substantial focal point in my life and sometimes a difficult hurdle to overcome when I’m not feeling well. So, I use poetry to express my feelings and to spread awareness.
I started performing poetry because I was looking for a way to transmute all the dark and painful energy I was emitting. I wanted to turn it into something beautiful and relatable. I’d just gone through a pretty bad breakup and wanted to be constructive even while grieving. This decision lead me to dive into the arts more. Before this dark time in my life, I’d just written for fun or to pass the time. I decided to take a poetry workshop, and things took off from there. I have found that it is both healing and comforting when people can relate to your pain.
I’m originally from Virginia where racism is rampant and overt. Like so many other people of color, I have been a victim of racism and discrimination more times than I can count. Therefore, my poetry aims to reach anyone who will listen to poems about the Black experience in America. I want to evoke some emotion within my listeners to keep this topic relevant until it brings about a positive change. I wrote a book called Closed Mind Open Heart: And All That Dangles In Between. It’s a collection of poems which depict my journey from pessimism to a life I now lead with joy. The book is available on Amazon
My mother is a poet. She writes children’s poems. I grew up reading and writing poetry as well. I like writing poems written for and about the Black community, topics relevant to the LGBTQ community, and my experiences as a soldier in the military. I try to emphasize issues which people may not be aware of. A fun fact about myself is that I’m a full-fledged, passionate poet. When I’m not writing or performing, I’m studying to earn my master’s degree in psychology.
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO