Entrepreneur Educates, Empowers Community Through Poetry

Seven of Arts will host a poetry slam Apr. 27 in Little Rock.

Drekkia Writes speaks to a group of blind and visually impaired students sitting at a table during a poetry workshop
Drekkia Writes leads at poetry workshop for students at the Arkansas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired Nov. 9, 2021. Courtesy photo.

It’s National Poetry Month and Drekkia Writes is “so happy about it.” The art form is a passion for the self-described poet, artist, creator and energy curator. She’s also the founder of Seven of Arts, which will host a poetry slam Apr. 27 at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center in Little Rock. 

Through her business, Writes leads poetry workshops as a way to address communication and comprehension skills and to demonstrate how to use the arts as a coping mechanism. She also helps educators learn how to teach poetry to their students.

“My whole thing is to educate, entertain and empower,” she says. “I really love using the arts as a tool to address academics, social-emotional learning and as a form of just entertainment.”

Writes first discovered the power of poetry when a teacher introduced her to the literary work in 6th grade. She began writing more frequently and decorated construction paper with her poems, which she then hung on the walls of her room. In 9th grade, she says a poem came to her when she was sleeping. Upon waking, she wrote it down and told it to her mother who encouraged her to share it with their church congregation. 

“I was so scared and so nervous. In my mind I feel like I did terrible, but you know those church people, they make you feel real good,” Writes says. “And afterwards they just celebrated me and I’m like, I think I like this.” 

The blossoming artist became more involved with poetry in high school by starting a club as well as hosting and participating in poetry competitions. At 18 she began teaching poetry workshops and learned how the arts could be influential in behavior modification.

“What that did for a lot of students was build this sense of safety and trust, which then translated into having better behavior, better grades, better participation,” she says.

Writes has taught poetry for a decade now and says the journey has been interesting. Poetry has created a freedom and safety for Writes — who says she’s actually shy — to step out of her comfort zone. It gave her a voice and confidence. 

“And that’s the kind of experience I want other people to feel — to really be free in how you create because there are no rules when it comes to poetry like that,” she says. “There’s a formality to it, but essentially you can create what you want, you can say what you want, and it’s yours and nobody can take it from you.”

It’s also important that poetry is shared because it could be impactful for others who hear it, Writes says.

“Your words are not just for you,” she says. “There may be some experiences that you have encountered that if you actually took a chance to put it on paper and shared it, you could help change somebody else’s life.”

Poets of all ages who want to showcase their skills are welcome to participate in the Seven of Arts Poetry Slam Apr. 27 at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. Participants must arrive by 5:30 p.m. to sign up and be prepared to perform for five judges during three rounds. Tickets are $15 for competitors and $10 for audience members. More information is available on Eventbrite

Writes is also hosting a fundraiser for the nonprofit arm of her business July 7 in Little Rock. Details are forthcoming. You can keep up with Writes’ projects on her website, www.sevenofarts.com.

Antoinette Grajeda
Antoinette Grajeda

Antoinette Grajeda is Editor-in-Chief of Arkansas Soul, the host of the Affirmative Action podcast and an Arkansas-based journalist. She has covered race, culture, politics, health, education and the arts for NPR affiliates as well as print and digital publications since 2007.