Poetry for me started in 4th grade with a general poetry unit in Mrs. Croft’s class. I did well enough for her to want to show my poetry packet, complete with the basics of introductory poetry, to my mother. Well from there my mother continued to encourage me to write on one hand and I would write for girls I liked after recess, and family members on holidays and birthdays.

As I grew into understanding life through my own personal struggles at home, poetry became this escape to another world for me to tell a third person story about what I experienced. As I began framing my own identity toward high school poems reflected my personal beliefs about the world, myself, and the people around me. In college, I found out about the performance of poetry as more than just reading a report of what was written but as an art. Poetry has been a part of my life for almost as long as I was able to form sentences. For that reason I don’t see, I can’t see it separate from my vision or purpose in life. Poetry doesn’t so much “fit into” my vision or future as it is constantly moving me closer to and toward my purpose.

I aim to leave this world more beautiful and beneficial in as many ways as I can before I am called to leave. On the smallest level of making sure roadblocks in institutions exist while I attend to creating art, participating in actions, performances, and coalitions who seek to address and solve one or many of the world’s problems. Poetry is the vehicle by which I am continuously moving toward my dream, which is really to fulfill my purpose. I think my purpose is already here, as with all humans, my purpose was here before I left the womb. We are all given tools, hints, and experiences that are meant to remind us throughout life where it is we should be, and what it is we should be doing.

It was poetry that saved my life through middle school and high school by existing as an outlet for things I didn’t know I needed to get out but had an avenue to release. It was poetry that helped and still helps, me express myself when I can’t find the words through prose. It was the poetry community at Eastern Michigan University that took me in and transformed me into a performer and a leader. To this day poetry remains the constant answer that presents itself when I feel I am lost. Whether intentionally or unintentionally poetry in some way has been my way through, up, and out of whatever I was in. I consider myself a “truth-teller”. I believe at our best poets are simply truth-tellers. Remnants of the Griots, and Djelis, we are the keepers of stories which provide an opportunity for society to take a look at itself and continue to decide if it will remain, regress, or change for the better.

“The poets, by which I mean all artists, are finally the only people who know the truth about us” – James Baldwin

Bio: “Darius Simpson is an award-winning spoken word artist, writer, proud wearer of crocs, and social justice activist born in Akron, Ohio. He received his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Eastern Michigan University. He uses poetry as a tool with which to heal, inform, and challenge his audience in their awareness of social, political, and economic oppression.