The Creative Wellness Project: Alyesha Wise
April is National Poetry Month so what better way to kick off this month’s Creative Wellness Project than with one of my favorite poets Alyesha Wise. I was first introduced to her work by a college friend. He invited me to The Fuze, an open mic spot where she was performing. To be honest, I can’t remember the title of the piece she did. What I do remember, however, was the excitement of finding someone so dope. Here's what she had to say about wellness, writing, and self care.
1. Tell us about your background and what inspired you to start writing?
I started writing when I was just 11 years old, inspired by the movie, Poetic Justice. Well, I was mostly inspired by the beautiful actress in the movie - Janet Jackson. I thought all of the poems in the movie were really hers. I wanted to be like her.
Since then, I’ve never wanted to stop writing and sharing my work. I came up pretty much teaching myself, inspired by many of the greats in Camden and Philadelphia’s “old school” poetry scene, early on. And I continue to teach and perform poetry in classrooms and awesome spaces across the globe.
2. What does your writing events aim to do?
My writing events aim to have everyone who walks in feeling better about life or about something when they leave out, i.e. a sense of healing. Now, just my writing - that aims to get someone moving - spiritually or in love or in action. And, sometimes my writing simply aims to let people know they’re not alone.
3. What has been your biggest challenge and how do you overcome it?
My biggest challenge has probably been always having so much that I want to take on at once. I overcome this by deep breathing, taking time out for something I deserve like netflix and ice cream, reminding myself that I can do it all, just not today. There’s no need to rush it. God speed.
4. What book would you recommend everyone should read?
Conversations with God. Doesn’t matter if you’re religious. Give it a chance. This book changed my life.
5. Who’s your favorite writer and why?
My favorite writer is probably (I say probably because I have so many, because my heart and mind shifts almost every moment) Audre Lorde. I like her balance of complex, yet to the point writing. I’ve resonated with quite a lot of her work. I feel her words. It’s bold, it’s black, it’s beautiful, it’s queer. And so is she.
6. Do you have a creative wellness practice? Something creative that you do to encourage yourself to take better care of yourself?
I do weekly and bi-weekly fasts. For instance “no dairy this week.” “No apologizing for the next two weeks” “No alcohol..” etc.
In this process (especially with the fasts only being wkly/bi-wkly), I allow myself room to make mistakes. I forgive myself. I open up space for balance and understanding of my body/being and how it relies on certain things/practices and for how long.
7. Is there anything else you'd like to add regarding your work?
I’ve never been happier with my career than where I am today. Thanks for reaching out to me.