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Inspired by the Poetry of Tiana Clark

"I didn't feel truly confident and challenged as a poet until I learned from the example of Tiana Clark"

Though I currently work as a professional writing instructor, creative writing continues to be my passion. Poetry has a special place in my heart because I have been writing poems since I was seven years old. Yet, I never truly felt confident as a poet until my writing was influenced by the work of Tiana Clark.

"Meeting" Tiana Clark

Despite the praise I received from friends, I struggled to accept my poems as great because they all seemed the same to me - overly dependent on rhythm and rhyme. I wanted to grow, do more than what I'd always done. So when I was accepted into the University of North Alabama's writing program, I was excited to see how the creative writing workshops would push me. And my eagerness was validated when I was introduced to the work of Tiana Clark. Reading her poems provided the inspiration and assuredness I needed, in order to be challenged and enhanced as a writer.

Learning from Her Excellence

The issue I had with my poetry wasn't a derision towards rhyme and rhythm - I still love and respect those elements. The problem was, I felt a compelled to rhyme, as if a poem was no longer a poem, unless it rhymed. I knew this wasn't true, but I had become so codependent on rhyming schemes, that it was hard to let go. Reading Tiana's poems - such as Soil Horizon, Broken Ghazal for Walter Scott, and Hair Relaxer: An Origin Story - I was able to experience poetry that moved and awed me, without a codependent rhyme scheme.

Soil Horizon showed me the power of poetic storytelling. Broken Ghazal for Walter Scott demonstrated how stanzas and repetition mimic the power of rhythm and rhyme, but with deeper effect on dark and somber subject matter. Hair Relaxer: An Origin Story spoke to my own struggles with assimilation as a black woman, and its sharp breaks and separations emphasized the pain that can cause.


Overall, reading Tiana's poetry inspired me to stop feeling inadequate when it comes to writing my own poetry. I felt empowered and challenged, to step out of my comfort zone, to see what I could create when trying different elements, playing with space and separation, or "breaking" the rules of grammar for poetic impact.

Writers - is there a particular hack or element you've become too dependent on? How do you challenge yourself to break away from it?

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