Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Antwoun Stevens: a poet, deployed at sea

Monday, November 13, 2017

For seven months, Antwoun Stevens has been deployed at sea aboard the U.S.S. Lake Erie, a 548 foot missile cruiser.

Stevens is a Navy enlisted man, a former Southeast student and a poet who has just published his first book, “When the Clock Strikes Twelve: a Collective of Poetry.”

According to the book’s description, it is the journey of a young black man, written with the intent to inspire the spirit, ignite the soul and spark the imagination. He called it a reminder of humanity.

He said the book’s title is a reference to the story of Cinderella.

Photo submitted by Antwoun Stevens

“Everything’s perfect until 12 o’clock and she loses the magic, loses the glass slippers,” Stevens said. “That’s how I envisioned this book being. It’s poems about my entire life. This is what happens when the clock strikes 12, when the Cinderella story is gone and it’s back to reality. This is the truth about what I think a lot of people go through in life.”

It includes a compilation of about 40 poems separated into two parts and covers topics like police brutality, loss of a child, life in the military and more.

Stevens said he writes in his spare time while deployed, during lunch breaks or at night when he should be sleeping. He said focusing on something he cares about has been his escape.

“There are a lot of love poems, because I’m a love poet,” he said. “I try to be as honest as I can and I truly believe that your words can help somebody.”

Before he began writing poetry in high school, Stevens said rapping helped to hone his skill with words.

Photo submitted by Antwoun Stevens

“I got into poetry originally off a bet,” he said. “I used to call myself a rapper and then this guy showed me spoken word poetry and he bet that I couldn’t do it, so I kinda took it on as a challenge.”

In his poem “Ode to Things I’ll Never Understand,” Stevens covers hard topics like rape and child abuse that people close to him experienced. Another poem, “Octopus,” he said is a metaphor for coping with the loss of an unborn child. The last poem of his collection, “Lo Que Sera Sera” or “Whatever Will Be, Will Be,” represents the end of an important part of his life.

Stevens is stationed in San Diego, but when his current deployment ends he will be headed to Boston.

“I plan on finishing my degree in English there,” he said. “There’s a big poetry scene there so I plan on getting involved,” he said.

A second book is on the way, with the working title “Dawn, I’m the Villain in This One.” Stevens said it will be a completely different vibe.

“It’s going to be full of stories, reflections, honesty, and really letting some skeletons out the closet,” he said.

“When the Clock Strikes Twelve: a Collective of Poetry,” can be downloaded for free on Amazon, through “Kindle unlimited,” or in paperback for $6.99.