By Yana Levovna
Detroit’s own Natasha T. Miller has a pen and paper in her hands and a million thoughts in her head that need an outlet. They drop like tears on the page, spill forth like guts and pour blood until she is thoroughly exhausted, but not spent.
Her medium of expression is spoken-word poetry; she is a master, and she knows it. This isn’t cockiness, this is undeniable fact. Her poetry peers would testify to her mastery of words and concepts, legions of YouTube fans proclaim their devotion in the comments on her videos, and anyone who sees her in action is awed by her ability to expose the rawness of her soul and cover topics that would make the most callous individual weep for days.
“Through poetry, I have the ability to touch lives and pain comes with it. When it’s too much for me, I just let it be too much and accept it. Although sometimes,” she laughs, “I do have to take a nap.”
Perhaps for other people, being a nationally recognized poet, an LGBT leader and a hometown hero would keep a person sufficiently busy and satisfied. Not T. Miller. She’s planning a midwest tour in January with fellow slam poet Ebony Hogan, wants to write a couple of movie scripts, and is self-publishing a book of memoirs from her life called “Rape Suicide God and Poetry.” She’s been compiling the book for a year and a half but metaphorically writing it her whole life. The release party will feature top Detroit poets at the Charles H. Wright museum on Jan. 3, 2010. On Nov. 7, T. Miller and poet Jeff Nelson are hosting a fundraising event for the book through their “It’s Not About You Poetry Series” at 1515 Broadway in Detroit.
There’s also the looming competitive slam season that will decide the 2010 Detroit slam team that will make their way to nationals. “Nationals are like high school sports. There’s the JV team and the Varsity, and you have to put in the time and hope the Varsity players acknowledge you. I’ve been fortunate enough to get that recognition.” The competition is fierce but also full of love and mutual respect. “People can tell when you are being genuine or not, and they’ll know when you are copying someone else’s style. There’s room for everyone in poetry because we are not all reaching for the same stars.”
T. Miller stumbled into slam poetry three years ago on a whim, picked up a pen and paper one day and let her personal demons do the talking. Since then, she’s been tearing up the mics in Detroit and has already been recognized by the big-time players across the country. At the 2008 and 2009 Women of the World Poetry Slams, T. Miller placed third in 2008 and fifth the next year. She then captained the 2009 Detroit Poetry Slam as they battled in West Palm Beach. She could be likened to the Mozart of slam poetry – if Mozart was a skinny, tall, black lesbian with a penchant for wearing knit hats.
As an openly gay artist, she writes prolifically about LGBT issues, as well as other topics that hit close to home such as molestation, abuse, suicide, and racial and social justice. Via Facebook, MySpace and YouTube, she receives personal messages from people all over the world about how her words have helped them accept themselves and deal with difficult issues. She acknowledges her praise warmly but insists that “it’s weird to be a ‘hero’ because I’m just me. I’ve finally resolved to be the person these people think that I am through my poems and live up to their expectations.”