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Today in The Writer Spotlight: BGPS Winner Ivory Bennett!

Tell us about you! How old are you and where are you from? Hello, Love. My name is Ivory Bennett. I am a 31 year old Virgo sun, rising, and Venus with a Gemini Moon. And I am from Pittsburgh, PA.

What's a fun fact about your hometown? A fun fact about Pittsburgh is that it is the birthplace of the late, great playwright August Wilson! Also, it was one of the most influential cities during the black renaissance!

When did you realize you wanted to be a poet? When did your journey begin? I think I was born a poet. My mother is an amazing poet. My father, too. But, my mother’s work has been much more influential in my development. I wrote my first poem for school in the 3rd grade - it was the first time in all of my schooling when I was in the same school throughout an entire school year because I was in and out of foster care due to my mother’s mental illness.

Overall, I spent 17 years in foster care, but I digress. I wrote a poem about time and how it is fleeting and elusive. And my teacher, who was amazing - I absolutely adored him - asked me if I copied it from somewhere. I remember him taking my poem and walking out of our classroom to show another teacher - I think it was too good and too deep, he couldn’t believe an 8 year old wrote it. That’s when the journey truly began. And I didn’t realize it, but my mother had been preparing me to be an artist my entire life! Kudos to you, Mom.

Do you have any previously published work? If so, what? If not, do you have any planned? I do! I have two self published books - one choreopoem and one poem collection, dozens of articles and op-eds, and one play. You can find most of my publications on LinkedIn: I look forward to writing more plays and poems in the future!

Do you have any other hobbies besides writing? What do you do for a living?

I do have several other hobbies. I love international travel; pre-pandemic, I had a goal of at least one new foreign country every year… slowly and surely, I will safely get back to that goal. I also love photography. I love plants. I love, love, love fashion. And I love theatre and performing arts! I also thoroughly enjoy finding new ways to take care of my holistic self.

Currently, I work in Education as a Manager of Teacher Leadership Development. Essentially, I coach and manage a few dozen first and second year educators across North Texas. Previously, I was an English teacher and a cheer coach at a title 1 school. I joke that I work in 3 industries because I also do a great deal of published writing projects and advocacy work for foster care reform and education equity, concurrently.

What's your favorite book? Do you have a least favorite? This is a hard question… in the past, The Color Purple, by Alice Walker was my favorite book, movie, musical, Bible, lol. But, I no longer relate to the immense suffering and trauma of it all. So, now I would have to say that Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God is one of my new favorites. Additionally, Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat is a beautiful favorite, as well.

Tell us one of your favorite poets and/or poems. My mother is one of my favorite poets and playwrights, Constance Bennett. Some of my favorite poets are Khalil Gibran, Gwendolyn Brooks, Maya Angelou, Claude McKay, Nikki Giovani, and Ntozake Shange, to name a few. I consider musicians and lyricists to be poets as well and I absolutely adore Lauren Hill, Floetry, and Kendrick Lamar. A few of my favorite poems / lyrics are “On Pain” by Khalil Gibran, “Sometimes U Make Me Smile” by Floetry, and “The Heart Part 5” by Kendrick Lamar. Oh, and I am obsessed with a poem I wrote called “Body.”

What do you hope to accomplish in your writing career? I hope to teach people what it truly means to make the most of their lives. I hope to evoke transformative change in people from the inside out. There is a saying, “if you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.” I want to teach people to fish - I want them to know they must be the change they wish to see. I want people to deeply understand that they deserve joy and liberation. I want people to take control of their gifts and their lives and their futures, not only for themselves, but for generations to come.

Where can we keep up with you? Share your socials media pages! LinkedIn: IG: @IvoryBennett FaceBookPlease add me on social media - I post any upcoming publications, speaking engagements, and any other projects and events.

You can check out Ivory's winning poem 'Woven Wanderings' in volume 2 of the Black Girl Poetry Scrapbook! Order Here!

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