Talya Henry puts life into perspective with poetrySunday, October 17, 2021
BY CANDICE HAUGHTON
“IF we had known that human touch would be rare, then a peck and a hug we'd find time to share.” Taken from Jamaican poet Talya Henry's piece, And If, the poem was written to highlight the shared state of mind the public was in after the novel coronavirus pandemic started.
This, Henry said, is the reason she is driven to write her poems to not only reflect her emotional and mental state, but so that the general public can relate to and find comfort in her work.
“I've been scribbling rhymes and verses since primary school; however, things got serious in high school, particularly in sixth form when I studied literatures in English at the CAPE (Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination) level. There I met and fell in love with the works of Thomas Hardy and Olive Senior,” Henry told Career & Education, adding that while she also writes about nature, her favourite poems to write about are inspirational.
“I'd like to think I put life into perspective with my poetry where I appeal to my readers individually and provide timely life lessons. As cliché as it sounds, poetry chose me. Poetry quickly became more than an art. It is my way of life, my solace, my escape, my calling. Imagining my existence without poetry is impossible because poetry is my existence,” she explained.
The 25-year-old St Catherine native said after completing her studies at St Jago High School, she went on to The University of the West Indies, Mona were she read for a bachelor's degree in journalism. According to Henry, she attributed all her success so far to her close-knit family who has always been there to support her.
“I'm truly blessed to have a supportive family that encourages personal development and self-discovery. They are also big on talent investment and self-expression. Their support and impact continue to inspire my voice and ultimately the words I share,” she added.
Additionally, Henry said even though she was hesitant to let people read her work, she knew she had to overcome that fear if she was to realise her dream.
“My poems are written from an intimate place and having someone reading them meant exposing a part of me. That in itself was scary. But I knew this was something I had to do. Somehow, I knew my poems were meant to be more than diary entries,” she stated.
As such, she advised those who wish to enter the literary field that, “While the publicity can be crucial to your growth as a poet, take as much time as you need to fall in love with your craft. Be as selfish with your work for as long as you deem fit. Find your niche then own it. Don't be rushed by the external eyes or the need to put your art and heart on display.”
“Once you are ready or confident enough take things in stride. Start with your close family members and friends and develop an appetite for criticism. When you decide to invite the eyes of others, be gentle with yourself and stay true to your voice,” Henry continued.
Explaining that you can find her poems on Instagram using the handle In_the_3am, Henry added one of her favourites so far is Free Alas, which was dedicated to the life of her late aunt Shereen Henry.
“This is also the first major piece I've ever read for an audience,” she stated.