Jeff (WoodOfBeen), is a poet from Foster Park, Illinois who has been writing poetry for a few years, along with doing photography for a few months. WoodOfBeen is also an activist who hopes to give back to the community he came from as well as give back to the city of Chicago in any way he can. Enjoy a short Q&A, poems and photography to take a look inside of the mind of WoodOfBeen.
Who are you as a person?
I’m a supporter if that makes sense. I believe in everyone’s potential, and I try my best to make everyone feel happiness and love. Especially Black people and other minorities because we go through so much; we deserve love. I’m also the person that just wants to help everyone accomplish whatever it is they want to do and become the best possible version of themselves. I noticed that there aren’t that many people willing to do that for other people so I decided “why not be that person”. That’s all anyone ever needs, a person who’s in their corner.
What influenced you to get into poetry and photography?
My fiancée influenced me the most, she would always tell me just to do it if I really want to. She boosted my confidence and would tell me my poetry is actually pretty good and I should continue to do it. My environment also played a major role as well. Growing up in Foster Park you see a lot and do a lot. Moving to the burbs for high school made things worse because I was in a bad situation there. Being broke, from the “hood” trying to fit in. For years I was in a pretty dark space and I didn’t know how to express myself. I didn’t have anyone to explain or show me how to express my emotions but instead would tell me to not show them because of this weird thing in society called “being a man”. Watching a lot of Def Poetry Jam is what helped me, that and Button Poetry. My experiences/environment definitely influenced me; I wanted to share my hurt which slowly turned into success to others who probably went through the same thing or something similar. Overall though, my fiancée really keeps me going because she really believes in me no matter what I do.
How do you plan to grow as a poet and photographer?
I’m not entirely sure, maybe write a poetry book and do a photo series for all my homies still in the hood which showcases a different kind of carefree Blackness. I just want my work to inspire others to not be afraid to try new things. I really want to help people who feel lost or depressed, maybe I can save somebody. So, if I accomplish any of those I’ll consider it growth. Also, if I get better at both to the point where poets and photographers are like “wow you really going crazy” then that would be considered growth to me as well.
Is when they say they love you
Is the color yellow
Is trying on new clothes
Is finally believing in yourself
Is making it to the next morning
that you’re still here
Is no new scars
And being content with the old ones
Is knowing that it’s okay to cry
Men cry too
Is a new puppy
Is a smile on a baby’s’ face
Is something you deserve.
No matter how badly you think you don’t.”
You Helped Me
Not be a misogynistic Black youth
Houses inside of each other
So no matter where we are
We’re always home.
You remind me
Your rays always keep me warm
You tell me
That you love me
Even when I least deserve it
You remind me
That I’m doing my best
Even though there’s more that I can do
This is alright for now.
Holds it’s hands up off instinct
My skin can’t stop bullets
Trust me it tried.
Check out more of WoodOfBeen’s poetry: https://woodofbeen.wordpress.com/