If you’ve ever explored the Georgia Museum of Art, chances are that you’ve seen Chevelyn Curtis countless times. Although she often comes off as shy and reserved, those who know her know that she has a great sense of humor as well as a contagious smile to go with it. Her friendly personality allows anyone around her to feel comfortable and welcome. Chevelyn has been working at the museum for years, first as a part-time security guard and now as a full-time security guard. Recently, she created her own blog to showcase her poetry: http://IHeartPoetrySite.Wordpress.com. Chevelyn was kind enough to sit down with us and give us some backstory about her writing and experiences.
How long have you been writing poetry?
I started in my sophomore year in high school, so about… 13 years? I don’t write as much as I used to though. I’m always busy.
Reading your poetry, we see that a few of them seem to revolve around the theme of love. Do you often hesitate to post something so intimate online?
Not really. This is actually the first time that I’ve actually posted anything online. I’ve entered contests—I never won—but every poem that I sent in has been published in a book. I’m pretty used to my work being out there for the public to see.
Some people use poetry as an outlet. There’s no denying that putting your heart on a sheet of paper can result in so much relief, whether emotional or mental. Is that why you write?
Yes. I was teased a lot so, I reached a breaking point and almost thought about committing suicide. I found writing—and the fun thing is that it was a school assignment, and I ended up liking it. I was able to write off the top of my head. I didn’t need to think about it.
On your site, the first thing you see is a headline that reads: “My Love for Poetry Will Hopefully Inspire You in Some Way.” If you desire that readers take something away from your writing, what do you want it to be?
I’m hoping that it’ll inspire people to write more and express themselves. If my poem could help them in any way, I’m all for that too. Actually, I do have a poem about being teased that I will be posting soon.
Does being a security guard for the Georgia Museum of Art fuel your artistic side? I imagine that poets would love to be around beautiful art because both serve to tell stories.
Honestly, no. I do like the paintings we have here, but they don’t really inspire me or fuel me to write.
Is it hard for you to be so vulnerable on paper and then to upload your innermost thoughts for even strangers to see? Does that kind of courage come naturally to you? Or is it something you had to work toward?
I’m definitely still working on that. I’m very shy and I’m like… the quiet one. Unless I’m comfortable around you. Then I’m a completely different person. This takes a lot of courage because it took me a long time to actually act on this. I’ve been thinking about making a blog for the longest.
In your biography on your website, you thank viewers for making your dreams come true. What exactly are your dreams and aspirations?
Well, my main goal was to publish a book of my poems. However, I kept hitting roadblocks with that because I didn’t want to spend a lot of money to get it done and I didn’t have the money for it anyway. So that’s when the blog idea popped into my head. But my goal, in short, is to just get my poetry out there. The only downside to writing my own book would be the book tours and reading in front of people. I hate public speaking.
On your blog in your introduction page, you mention that you’ve endured bullying. Thankfully, you found writing. What advice do you have to people who also endure hardships that you’ve endured?
Well, I couldn’t escape harassment because I got it at school and at home. I didn’t have an outlet, and one day I told my mom about the assignment and she just told me to write what I felt. Doing that really helped, so I would say, “find an outlet.” You can write, draw, or sing… Do whatever you can to get it out.
Intern, Department of Communications