- Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you ended up in Delray Beach.
It all started with Bernie Sanders — how I got to Delray Beach that is. I was a fired up millennial who wanted to do anything she could to get Bernie to the Presidency. When he did not receive the Democratic Party nomination, I got on board to get Hillary Clinton elected because that’s what you do as a citizen.
When I made the decision to become a Campaign Organizer for the Florida Democratic Party (FDP), I had been working as a Community Organizer in Miami-Dade and living in Broward County. I made my way to Delray Beach because that’s where FDP needed me.
To encourage the move, FDP informed me of supporter housing, a process where willing Democrats take in campaign workers for the duration of the election cycle. Lorrie Mackain, whose partner is Commissioner Jim Chard, and I met in a one-on-one where I asked her to take me in. Lorrie was a super-Hillary volunteer and I fell in love with her immediately. Three hours later, her home with Jim and the animals became mine, and the rest is history.
I’m originally from a small town in Haiti, La Vallee, Jacmel. My family moved to Rockland County, New York, in the fall of 2000 upon receiving asylum. I went from living a middle-class lifestyle because my father worked in government to seeing him struggle in the snow and ache from working 12 hours at ALUF PLASTIC. My mother who was a teacher and local town socialite, as I like to put it, took on two jobs; cleaning homes in Monsey which is a predominantly Hasidic Jewish community and serving fast food at Burger King. As a child, I quickly learned to be independent and often had to be a support system for my parents; needing to translate important immigration documents and helping them make their way through parent teacher conferences for my two brothers and I.
My work ethic, independence, and passion for creating change got me into Syracuse University where I majored in Sociology and Public Relations. Since graduating in 2014, I’ve had a series of random jobs that all tie back to my love of people and community.
- How did you get into politics?
I was born into politics. My father was a “depite” or a congressman for the southeast region of Haiti, where I grew up.
My first official go at politics was in middle school. I ran for class president my eighth grade year and lost! When I got to high school, I decided to run again, and this time I won. I was class president every single year, and never really had much competition until senior year. Dominique, my opponent, decided having the same class president three years in a row felt like a dictatorship. She wanted to create change, and so she took me on. Let me tell you, I was quite nervous. Dominique was more popular than me although I had done a great deal to keep our class budget up and creativity flowing. And not to give you the wrong impression, I was popular too, but not in the way a young woman wants to be in high school. I was top five in my class, I played sports and rarely dressed up, and I spoke to absolutely everyone even the nerd of nerds, but I was not who my peers died to hang out with on a Friday night. In the end I prevailed.
After college, I became a Community Organizer with PACT (People Acting for Community Together) in Miami-Dade where I organized congregations. From there I went on to FDP, then worked with Jeff Clemens’ campaign, and joined MoveOn as a Deputy State Director where I trained other organizers and managed our efforts in Palm Beach and parts of Broward. Most recently, I was Commissioner Jim Chard’s Campaign Manager.
- When did you start writing? How did you get started and how did you end up publishing a book?
I wrote my first poem in the third grade, but I didn’t start writing religiously until about sixth grade. If you’ve read Close Your Eyes, Now Breathe, which is my first book, you’ll come to realize that it’s some deep, raw, personal content, and at times, uncomfortable stuff. That’s because writing has been the way I channel pain. I won’t go into detail, but I went through sexual trauma as a child and didn’t tell my parents or a professional until my senior year of high school. When I go back and read some of my poetry from middle school or even high school, it’s quite heartbreaking; I see a girl attempting to deal with shame and guilt through writing. That’s truly how poetry and I found each other, she gave me a space to deal with such a heavy burden. I am also quite compassionate and observant so I pick-up on details, other people’s feelings, and social interactions fairly well. Because of that, I am constantly creating emotionally charged content.
I don’t remember at what point I said, I’m going to be a writer, but it’s something I’ve wanted to do for quite some time. I remember wanting to seriously publish my senior year of high school and again in college, but found the thought too scary. Finally, about a year and a half ago, I was like that’s it — get the darn book together and things will fall into place. So I started backtracking and compiling pieces. I started with like 200 poems and eventually went down to the 67 that are in the book. There’s also a short, short story, the first few chapters of a novel, and a poem on the back cover.
All along the way, I kept researching ways to get published, and decided independent publishing would be best for me. I randomly started following Jennae Cecelia, whose an independently published poet, on Instagram because her photos are so beautiful. From there, I asked her about how she self-published and decided to take the route she did, CreateSpace. I knew I’d need someone to edit the pieces and a cover designer. For the cover design, I reached out to tryfkta who I went to Newhouse with, and Dr. Diane Allerdyce edited the content. As I went through the process, I just kept finding people who were willing to help me achieve my dream of publishing; many of them charging me a bargain price for services because they understood I couldn’t afford it otherwise. I have also had a strong support system. If it were not for my family, friends, and other writers, Close Your Eyes, Now Breathe would not have happened simply because it is such a vulnerable book.
- Tell us about what is like to be named one of BET’s top 8 Millennial feminist poets?
It feels pretty freaken awesome! For the network to consider me alongside folks like Zora Howard, Jasmine Mans, Warsan Shire, etc… is dope. I admire these women. Jasmine Mans, for example, I loved when she was a member of The Strivers Row. When I met Jasmine I was still grieving my grandmother’s death and had writer’s block for months, and when I did write it was super depressing stuff. She and I talked, she hugged me, I cried, then I went home and wrote this like five page letter to poetry — it was amazing. A lot of the spoken word I performed senior year came from that break in my writer’s block.
Being labeled a feminist is especially cool. I claimed to be a feminist early in college, long before I fully understood what that label means. Truthfully, two men were instrumental in my discovery, Anthony and Eric McGriff. They are string instrument playing twins who started It’s On Us at Syracuse University and were so impactful that they’ve presented at the United Nations and have received the attention of Joe Biden. Eric and I became great friends my senior year at SU and often kicked-back— we’d chill and talk about real issues like feminism, rape culture, relationships, and we’d get into less serious things like what’s hot in music.
- What are you working on now? We heard book two is in the works.
Book two is well on her way! The working title is Words Are The Light. My writing sits somewhere between short story and free-verse poetry, book two embodies that.
Words Are The Light is still going to be a bit political, but also full of love, travel, culture, and self-discovery. I think book two will speak to those who like or love my writing but found Close Your Eyes, Now Breathe too sad, personal or emotional. Many of the pieces were written while living in Delray Beach, but some have come from my travels to New York, Vermont, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua.
When I am not promoting book one or editing book two, I am blogging! I have a website, www.letitflose.com, where I practice my reported essays and blog writing, and sometimes share poetry.