“Basically poetry saved me…”
Pain saved her in the most beautiful way. Deyana Burke did not imagine that in the beginning, her personal escape of writing would turn into an art form and a craft. the young North Carolina native was introduced to poetry during her youth, as a therapeutic outlet to heal herself.
“Poetry was introduced into my life when I was 12.” Burkes says, “When I was 12, I decided to just write down my feelings on paper. Around this time I would say I started to lose myself. I was getting bullied and it was getting out of hand. At the age of 14 I got my heart broken, and that led to more poems. By that time, I saw that a lot of my poems were based on things that were apart of my life.”
Burkes detailed on her personal difficulties coping and dealing with pain.
“When I was in middle school I was going through a lot, and didn’t know how to express my feelings.” Burkes stated. “By me not telling others, I took matters into my own hands and began to inflict pain on myself.”
Throughout her journey of healing and self-discovery, Burkes discovered the beauty in the process of self-growth and care.
“I eventually got the help that I needed.” Burkes stated. “I began to write down my feelings to relax, it eventually turned into me writing poetry as a hobby. When I moved to Georgia at 15, the poems started to slow down. I found different ways to help me with my anger: yoga, painting, drawing, music, and of course poetry were the key things to keep me balanced and happy.”
As her perseverance and resilience motivated her journey, Burkes did not forget about her gift and special talent. As she matured, she became more serious to further evolve and strengthen her craft.
“As I got older, I saw that poetry was a talent that I have.” Burkes stated. “I got deeper into it, and started going to open mics, concerts, and perform in talents shows.”
Burkes detailed on her earlier experiences, during the beginning of her pursuits with poetry.
“When I was 13, I performed for the first time on stage at my school’s black history program.” Burkes stated. “My junior and senior year of high school, I performed in my school’s talent show.”
Stepping out of her comfort zone, Burkes decided to pursue a bold step and integrate herself into the realm of slam poetry. Nervous about her new experience, she was motivated and encouraged to take the initiative.
“I slammed for the first time October of 2016.” Burkes stated. “My first performance was at Marquis Slam in Fayetteville, NC (an open mic slam competition. Originally, I wasn’t going to go up there, but my cousin encouraged me to do so. I didn’t have anything memorized which freaked me out! I was already nervous, because I didn’t know how the audience was going to react. The crowd wasn’t too big, but it was probably about over 30 people there. I went on stage and recited two of my poems; She and Nations. The audience loved it! When I started to speak I was nervous, but after a few lines I forgot about everything and just started to flow. It was an amazing experience. Performing there helped me to seek out more opportunities. ”
After her first slam, Burkes continued to seek for opportunities to grow as a poet, and gain experiences as well as bonds in the process.
“Earlier this year, I put in an audition tape to be apart of a poetry team, not knowing that we would be competing in a different state.” Burkes stated. “I eventually made it on the Fayetteville Fire Slam Team, and we have competed against many other teams in the U.S. Our team went to Louisville, Kentucky this year to compete in the 2017 Southern Fried.
Learning through her experiences, she further details of what she has gained through the opportunity of being apart of a team.
“I would like to thank my cousin Shannon for pushing me that day in October to slam.” Burkes stated. “If I didn’t do it, I wouldn’t have known about the audition. Being apart of this team taught me how to grow in my vocabulary, write outside the box, and choose topics and themes that challenge me from what I know I can do. I would say having these opportunities of meeting new people, who have done slam poetry for years, has made me stronger as a writer. I reflect on the things that I wrote years ago, and came back and to it to make it stronger.”
Through her connections with others, she remains humbled throughout her journey. Burkes has strengthened and continued to mold herself as not only a poet, but also as an individual.
“I still get nervous before I perform, but that’s because I really care about my art in poetry.” Burkes stated. “I didn’t think I would get noticed from doing spoken word, but every so often, someone will come up to me and say they remember me. I noticed that I have grown as a person. I don’t get angry as easy; I am more into meditation and staying balanced and happy.”
Deyana Burkes shares her story, in hopes to connect with others in a passionate way. She leads by example, that pain helps you grow to where you need to be. She molded something beautiful out of tainted experiences.