By: Courtney L. Smith
The brisk aroma of coffee tantalizes the nostrils of patrons walking through several
tables surrounded by multicolored myriads of shelved books. A woman with butter-cream skin and neatly braided hair sits with perfect posture at an isolated table. Her gaze casually scans the passing patrons, orderly shelves, and varying voices until her search ends with a warm, emanating smile. Shiarnice Taylor a.k.a. Lyric has a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice/Psychology from Sam Houston State University and her Masters in Psychology from The University of Phoenix. She has been involved in poetry slams in college, and she has her own compact disc available on http://www.lyrictaylor.bandcamp.com called Lessons Learned. She has been enlightening and uplifting microphones for six years in the Bayou City, but the lyrics of her poetry have been
edifying audiences for much longer. She has been leaving her mark upon Houston like a flare in the middle of a dark ocean.
Some of her performances are available for viewing on Youtube.com.
Adolescents and small children witnessed the poet volunteering her voice for an
indefinite number of years in youth rallies. Lyric’s words have grazed the ears of brides and
grooms committing themselves to each other before God and witnesses of friends and families.
Lyric also pays homage to the Creator by visiting churches to exhibit her talent and uplift their congregants, poetically. Establishments and organizations share her insightful voice and profound words throughout their facilities like sunlight piercing a forest’s foliage. She has definitely gotten started at a very early age: “Since I was seven-years old. I started out
performing at weddings, youth events, and stuff like that.”
Extending a helping hand to those in need is nothing new to the spoken-word artist.
Her poetry releases volleys of admonitions to abstain from sexual irresponsibility in one
instance. Another performance will allow her audience to experience stumbling through
inebriation or flinging one’s body onto the concrete several hundred feet below to escape from misery. The audience will experience growing up with paternal neglect in another
demonstration of her talent. Lyric inundates her fans with empathy and sound advice to
ameliorate their lives: “to help people…based on my life and personal experiences…to motivate people.
Everybody has a story, and I feel like my story can help motivate somebody because
everybody might have…maybe not the same story, but their story might be similar. So, I write from personal experience. I also write a lot of controversial stuff, so a lot of stuff that poets don’t normally talk about. I bring out those issues. That is my real focus here: to spark that interest in people…make them think about stuff.”
Golden reflections blind the eyes of those viewing Lyric’s awards from competitions and
simple acknowledgments of talent. Her poetic reverberations have been heard off of the coast of Corpus Christi and allowed her collegiate team to place third in a poetry slam competition. The rafters of churches have resonated from vocal vibrations of her performances, which have earned Lyric their recognition of her talent. She reiterates the previous accounts in her own words: “Yes, I have. I used to slam, collegiately, nationally, and locally when I was at Sam Houston State University.
I believed we placed second in the nation at one point, and then on a
regional level, we did the slam in Corpus Christi: we placed third. I received several personal awards from churches and other organizations and stuff like that. You know those who appreciated me coming out and doing my poetry.”
The future can expect Lyric to ignite approaching books, poetic venues, and videos like
Mount Vesuvius burying Pompeii under a widespread blanket of volcanic ash. This poetic
cataclysm event will begin upon August. Poetic exhortations will accompany the butter cream artist as well: “This year, I plan on doing my first book. It should be released in late August. If not after that, it will be released some time before the end of this year. “
Causing people to confront their psychological demons is nothing Lyric fears. She also
speaks of adhering more closely to God as she expands the depths of her spiritual development and growth.
The young woman also wants people to understand the benefits of having a close
relationship with God through her experiences. Lyric renders her own acknowledgment of
these changes: “I would want people to remember me as that poet who dared to say things
that people would not normally say and spoke about those things in a way that made people want to change, whatever the issue is. I also want people to know me as somebody who is very spiritual, and that is what I am implementing, now, in my poetry: spiritual platform. This is different for me, tapping into a whole different side with the new book dealing with the spiritual aspect of my life. So, I want people to know how important God is to me, and, based on experiences I have been through, what He can do for them.”
Lyric’s endeavors involve preparing her book for release in the future. The artist plans
on exploring a new frontier by utilizing Amazon for marketing, including getting a shelf for it at Barnes and Nobles.
The spoken-word artist conveys she is promoting her album Lessons
Learned: “For right now, the album that I have out, which is my first album and it’s still out. It’s on Bandcamp entitled Lessons Learned. I have copies as well. Also, The Released will probably be published through a company called Strawberry Publications. I plan on selling it on Amazon and maybe some other sites that I find will be good, but I plan on trying to sell it on Amazon and trying to get it in Barnes and Nobles stores as well.”
The poet admits her inspiration is drawn from herself other fellow Houston poets Rain
and Savannah Blue. Lyric also credits Nikki Giovanni with inspiring her with her bold style.
Phenomenon is one person the poet reflects upon for inspiration: “I think I write…everybody…
Ed Mabry says everybody has a style of who they write like, so it’s just picking who you write like. And I think the person that I think of when I am inspired to write was Nicki Giovanni.
I think her arrogance and her boldness in her writing is amazing, and as far as poets that are in surrounding areas that I have seen performed in the Houston scene when I first saw Rain the Poet perform, an amazing artist. I think of one of the members of my slam team at Sam Houston. His name is called Phenomenon (better known as Brandon), Ed Mabry…Amazing, Savannah Blue…and that’s it.”
She admits exploring a new facet of her art is not always easy, but she embarks upon
the new territory of poetic expression without hesitation. Lyric’s decision to expose more of
her private thoughts and experiences is something she hopes her audiences can appreciate and embrace. Lyric acknowledges the change with this: “I say that there is this part of me that is about to be coming out with a new book is, and it’s hard to write geared towards a specific audience. I’ve always been told that if you are going to write a book, write towards a specific audience, so with this being spiritual and it’s being based on a lot of personal experiences that are…that I call naked truths. This is going to be different for me. That’s why it’s becoming so challenging to me as an artist to write geared towards spirituality, geared towards being completely exposed to everybody about who I am and what I have been through. So, I just hope people respect my honesty. That’s all.”
Jason’s Lyric inspires her selection of her stage name. The idea of using Lyric as her
stage name has been initiated partially by her musical background and love for the spoken
word. The perfect expression of combining an affinity for both music and poetry encompasses her ideal representation for herself, poetically. Lyric corroborates the previous with the following: “My stage name…I gave to myself from the movie Jason’s Lyric (one of my favorite movies filmed here in Houston, of course).
I just kept trying to think of a name, and I used to…with my poetry…I used to do this. I don’t do this as often, anymore. I used to sing, and like go off into poetry and then go back and forth. I thought Lyric would be perfect for that because I thought of lyrics to music and how they kind of coincide with poetry, so that is how I got Lyric.”
Strife has inevitably inundated different factions and groups of poetic performers in the
Bayou City. Some of these occurrences have divided the poetic community in ways, which have deterred numerous poetic patrons.
Often, poets wanting to remain neutral have found themselves in awkward or precarious situations regarding how to navigate through some hostile atmospheres caused by these mentalities.
Nevertheless, Lyric mentions this struggle of poets vying for supremacy within the field has created its own set of challenges for her. She conveys this in the following quote: “Greatest challenges have been, in particular…I don’t know
if other scenes have this, but the Houston poetry scene has a very…a lot of forceful people…a lot of people who are always competitive about everything. It’s a competitive spirit in everything that you do. And there is not anybody in particular that…what has been challenging knowing that this is something that I grew up loving to do just for the love of doing it, and to come to this scene…you know, growing up in Houston,
I really did not check out the poetry scenes growing up because I was not a part of that life, but when I got to college, I got a chance to see what it was like, and I really did not realize just how raw people were. How…I call it ‘poetry politics.’ Like political poetry gangsters or something.
It’s crazy. I’ve never seen anything like this before. So, it’s been challenging trying to find who is still doing poetry for the love of just doing it, and really finding out who is really for who and who’s not. And like, I’m not really into all of that: I just want to do poetry. I just want to write. I just want to inspire people.
I don’t care about the politics.”