Watch “Toni Love – Old School Love 8/1/12 @ WCL Philly” on YouTube

I have been writing poetry since the third grade. My teacher was so impressed with my poem that she had me read it to the entire class as an example for them. I can still remember it. My writing continued but didn’t really take flight until my college years. The cultural influence of New York City and the exposure leant by living near the heart of Harlem bled into my poetry and the life experiences of my college years made me blossom. I performed in sold out performances of Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem,” For Colored Girls” and was given the opportunity to read my poem “Creativity” to open for my idol Sonia Sanchez. My poetry and prose was published in the literary magazine on campus and I was well known in the African-American community as a writer. Then life happened – I was unable to finish my last year at college for financial reasons so I returned home depressed and angry and the writing ceased.
Now I am recovering Toni, the writer and it’s been a slow process but I am not giving up. I started this blog to remind me of my authentic self and to share my writing and poetry with the world. And now I feel it’s time to take the next step and give it a voice.
I promised myself that I would sign up for an open mic night in Philadelphia and share the feelings behind the words. With my best friend,
my brother and my love supporting me, I took the stage at a small venue and read “Meet Me” to a very supportive crowd. I was shaking like a leaf, but it felt good and they loved it. To start my birthday month off, I promised myself that I would take the stage at one of the largest open mic events in the city and debut my most popular poem here on my blog. I was afraid, but not as nervous. When I arrived to sign up, they told me that the list was full, and the only spot left was the slot to be the very first to go up on stage. Apparently no one wanted to go first! The place was packed, the stage was huge and none of my friends had arrived yet to tell me what to do. It was then that I felt courage on my shoulder, whispering into my ear. “You came all this way and invited your friends to come see you NOT perform? What about your promise to yourself? “. So I pushed past the fear and signed my stage name, Toni Love, at the top of the list.
It was exhilarating, exciting, scary and affirming all at the same time. One of my good friends captured it on film. Let me know what you think. I’m open to constructive criticism, especially since it will not be the last time I bless the mic. I’m in love!

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