I had the pleasure of interviewing an amazing and phenomenal young poet, educator and advocate. Jonte Luki Barret is a Washington, DC native with a passion for poetry and education.
Luki first fell in love with poetry at a young age when she was introduced to it by her grandmother, who is a published poet. Words of wisdom from her grandmother, “Take it really serious” provided a venue for her to express herself and to truly be honest with herself.
With her poetry, Luki aspires to travel, taking her art form on tour perform in other cities across the country. She also aspires to develop her own poetry curriculum that can be taught in schools everywhere.
Luki has been working with children for most, if not all of her life. Her love for children ignited a fire in her to make it a profession. She began volunteering at day cares and working in summer camps at a young age. Her dreams of education have led Luki to her current position of teaching in five schools in DC and one in MD where she teaches the art of poetry.
The students in Luki’s class not only learn about poetry, poets – both contemporary and modern – and different types of poetry but they also gain confidence. Luki guides these kids on how to express yourself and boasts to provide opportunity to express their views put those ideas into rhyme form. Her instruction also assists the students interactions with their peers, self respect and interpersonal respect and all around life lessons.
Luki couldnt mention her favorite poets without mentioning her favorite poem by them and the effect that it left on her. This includes Rasheed Copeland’s “My Mans and Em” and Orville The Poet’s “I Prayed For You”, from which she recited the first line. A few of the other poetic influences she mentioned include: Karika, Nia Jones, Jay the Jeweler, The Truth, Nuance, Maya Angelou, Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, Nikki Giovanni, and Audre Lorde.
When asked about her strengths and weaknesses, Luki stated that her strength crowd control and stage presence. She feels that she doesn’t challange herself enough to write about different things. To build that weakness into a strength she has began to branch out and write on different subjects including politcs and life experiences (other than love). She also recently wrote a poem in two different languages. Talk about diversity!!
Luki’s first poem ever recited was also a once in a lietime experience. In the first grade, her class was visited by Maya Angelou and Luki had the honor of reciting a few stanzas of “Still I Rise” right in front of Maya Angelou! I think nervous is an understatement!! I was nervous listening to her tell me about it! Luki was concerned about reading someone else’s work and do it the right way and not stumble. She described the esperience as nervewrecking. Over the years, Luki has been able to memorize her poems, but her nervousness has not subsided. She still gets butterflies and she attributes them to new faces and the worry of not knowing people may interpret what she’s about to say.
Some of the best advice that Luki noted was from a good friend and fellow poet, Lamar Hill. He reminded her to take her time, gauge the audence and to use the stage well. This advice has become a staple in her performances.
“It never gets easy to bear your soul.” ~Luki
Settling into her craft, Luki has found herself a lot more confident. She has not only found poetry to be an outlet and an amazing art form but it has also been an introspective experience. Luki states that she believes in herself and what she writes is true to her. She knows that she doesn’t fit in anyones box. She feels comfortable with her poetry even though “it never gets easy to bear your soul”. She says her poems “feel like they’re prayers to God and I happen to be talking to him in front of other people”. Poetry has been an amazing journey for Luki, as she has learned so much about herself through her poetry.
Thanks for putting your ears on it!!
Love & Light, Fam!