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Emotions the Poet

Emotions the Poet
Emotions the Poet

“I walk in violation”

Yes, Megan Benton is a declaration. Known on stage as Emotions the Poet, the L.A. native hit the DPL mic after a four-year absence with an unflinching piece of work, “BOI,” that dares us to swerve first in the game of chicken masquerading as gender politics. As a woman who loves women, and who is determined to “make masculinity look pretty,” her life in and out of the spotlight is a lesson in living one’s artistry. Her mission, though, started long before she earned her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology. “I’ve always had that innate activist in me,” says Emotions, and put her commitment to the test even as the 10th grader who wrote a love poem about a girl for the high school Valentine’s Day show. A mentor teacher supported the young romantic’s bravery, but made it clear: “This has never been done before in the district; if you’re going to do it, it’s got to be good.” Oh, and the punchline: her parents were in the audience; she literally came out to them and the entire school on stage. They heard the word…and it was good. Despite the fact that her dad had no idea at all about his daughter’s sexuality, he and Emotions’ mom “were really proud.”

Armed with poetry as proof of freedom, Megan massaged her journals into a voice in undergrad at New Orleans’ Dillard University, where her friends dubbed her “Emotions” because of what she frequently wrung out of audiences with her spoken word performances. At 21, though, her journey as a writer derailed with the death of her mother. A mourning descent into writer’s block, a slow recovery, and two degrees later, Emotions the Poet, now 27, specializes in work as a clinician and as an artist with youth and the LGBTQ community to help others appreciate “how to use our bodies and our stories to heal.” As a mentor to the Gay & Lesbian Center’s LifeWorks program, Emotions is dedicated to teaching young writers how to find a path through life’s brambles via poetry, but without “hiding behind your poem” by letting undisciplined figurative language get in the way. She also wants to make sure naïve minds do not confuse the popular for the profound: “Martin Luther King had the audience Lil Wayne has today.” Assisting her in the honing of her mature vision were two of her own mentors, in whose workshops she blossomed, Poetri (a DPL founder) and Simply Kat, a DPL slam team alum; her current inspirations include veteran DPL host and founder, Shihan (“I love his rhythm”), and, one of DPL second half’s newest hosts, Edwin Bodney (“He motivates me”).

Like a true scholar, with every answer a poem offers, Emotions the Poet is seeking new questions: “I really want to know more about the writing community; I really want to get out there.” Undoubtedly, we will benefit as much or more from a world view that sees poetry not merely as a pain-killer, but as an emergency vehicle:

“I think folk forget that their stories can save lives.”

▇ ▇ ▇   Boi

By Megan Benton (aka Emotions the Poet)

New Orleans
Black in the middle of spring
Brass players congregating
As we prepare for the second line
My gown covering internal agony
What’s next?
Success, failure, endless possibilities
Love covering my skin
Sweat drenching from my locs
Grass beneath my feet
I walk in violation
The leaders of the elite institution said:
All women must wear black dresses to commencement
No professor ever gave a lesson on gender expression
Why must womanhood be wrapped in expectation?
So I wear black
Black button, slacks and loafers
All designed for male
Partially following directions
But why must I be directed by gender
I’ve always fallen somewhere in between
Restroom doors swinging of filthy hinges
With signs dangling
Reading male or female
There is no third entrance
The world gender phobic
I gender fucked
Piss runs down my leg in disbelief
Who knew that dumping waste could be so complicated?
I was taught to act like a lady
Institutionalized to be feminine
Somewhere in between learning to put on lip gloss
I feel in love with masculinity
Hiding my body from the hyper sexual fantasies of men twice my age
Joe boxers painting against these curvy hips
Like graffiti paints a glow on cold brick in Los Angeles
I hid myself behind graphic tees that said: Fuck you pay me
Pay me attention
It’s take a lot courage to be vulnerable
Walking in violence
Men afraid of losing privilege
Women afraid of difference
Dapper, clean cut
Locs twisted to the scalp
Tappers, line of precision
See I make masculinity look pretty
We make masculinity look pretty
Brown Boi
Theta Boi
Queer Boi
Born obviously incredible
Wear that Bowtie with pride
Folded into perspective
Difference is not taught but learned to be subordinate
In elementary school
Perspective felt meaningless
Abnormality fractured faces on the play ground
Potential was written on the wall with chalk
I was a masterpiece easily erased
Blood covering skin
Knuckles tearing my beauty
Feet folding and stomping my insides out
Bullied for being a he she
I guess they thought they could beat the man out of me
Who am I safe to be?
Resiliency made me a success
I am BOI
Beaten outwardly and internally
Difference holds so much potential
Born obviously incredible
Especially when you wear it pretty