A room without a single window, containing one couch and a desk, is where Ebony Stewart writes her poetry.
She thinks back to the time when she was a little girl, hiding and writing in the closet of her bedroom.
“I like to say that poetry saved my life. I would be a completely different person if I didn’t find some way to get everything out. Poetry means a lot to me,” said Stewart.
When Stewart was in college she struggled to find her niche.
Undeclared, Stewart said she “wanted to be everything,” but settled with a degree in English and communication studies.
“I taught ninth grade English for a little while and then I transitioned into sixth and seventh grade sexual health,” she said.
Stewart now tours the country, reading her poetry about equality and empowerment to schools, coaching poetry slam teams and working on one woman shows. In 2017, she was announced Woman of the World Poetry Slam champion.
On April 10 in the McCarthy Forum, Stewart shared her life experiences with the FSU community.
Growing up with an abusive father, Stewart started writing poetry at when she was 8 years old and found light through her writing.
“I started out journaling. My father was very abusive toward my mother, and journaling was a way for me to remove myself because, you know, hurt people hurt people, and I didn’t want to be a part of that. So, I had to learn different coping techniques and ways to heal myself, writing just so happened to be one of those things, ” said Stewart.
Her poetry contains messages about overcoming body image and validating oneself.
Stewart said she used to hyper-focus on all the negatives she embodied, but now she supports these qualities by turning them into something positive.
“I used to be like, ‘Man my forehead is big,’ then I was like, ‘Well, I got a brain though,’” she said. “Try to find what’s right with you. We spend a lot of time figuring out what’s wrong with us. When you look in the mirror, you’re looking for something that’s wrong. We never take the time to find what’s right.”
During her performance, Stewart passed around a box in which everyone submitted anonymous questions about sex, relationships, body image and poetry.
Sophomore Samantha Patjane said she found Stewart’s interactive segments engaging.
“She was extremely personable with students over current important issues and I think she gave a fearless performance,” Patjane said.
In her slam poem titled, “Transparent,” Stewart said, “I always have a hard time writing about myself. It’s easier to tell someone else’s story and I’m still trying to convince my shadow that it chose me for a reason.”