Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Famed poet Ebony Stewart to emcee Homecoming Talent Show

Monday, October 21, 2019
International Touring performance artist Ebony Stewart will emcee the Homecoming Talent Show at Southeast on Tuesday, Oct. 22.
Photo submitted by Ebony Stewart

International touring poet and performance artist Ebony Stewart will emcee Southeast’s Homecoming Talent Show on Oct. 22.

Stewart is a writer, slam poet, actress, dancer and touring performance artist whose work focuses on the black experience. She is the Women of the World Poetry Slam Champion, a featured poet on Button Poetry and Write about Now, and Poetry Slam Inc. Stewart was the only poet to perform before 200,000 people at the 2018 Seattle Pride Festival.

Stewart started writing slam poetry in her youth to gain entrance to the battle rap world, although she’s been writing poetry since the age of 8.

“I initially thought that slam poetry was battle rap. Since I thought I was going to be a rapper, it made sense. Come to find out, I’m competitive and nice with words,” Stewart said.

Stewart’s background and education have shaped her writing as well. Hailing from Baytown, Texas ---- a city within Greater Houston ---- Stewart has a Jamaican, Creole and southern background. Stewart said her hometown and lineage are a major part of her writing.

Some of her early influences include her grandmother, Clara Thomas, and famous writers and poets such as Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, Ntozoke Shange, Lucille Clifton and LaLove Robison. Her writing focuses on topics relevant to marginalized communities and minorities, such as sexuality, race, and womanhood.

“I’m a black woman in America, so everything I write speaks to the black experience, no matter if it is joy, pain, resilience, love, endurance or encouragement,” Stewart said.

Stewart has authored published books such as “The Queen’s Glory,” “The Pussy’s Box,” “Love Letters to Balled Fists” and “Home.Girl.Hood.”

Many of her writings have been seen in For Harriet, Afro Punk, Teen Vogue and The Texas Observer. She said she’s proud of them all, but her newest books, “Love Letters to Balled Fists” and “Home.Girl.Hood” are “truly her babies.”

Stewart wants her poetry to have a lasting impression on the reader. She hopes her work is relatable, removes shame, offers healing, encourages dialogue among different topics, and offers inspiration to members of marginalized communities.

“I always hope that my work is relatable — that I say something that sticks with people long after I’m gone,” Stewart said.

Stewart said she also encourages others to find a way to express themselves in a way that makes them feel “free.”

The Homecoming Talent Show at Southeast will take place Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. in Academic Hall Auditorium. The free event is being organized by the Student Activities Council.