A South London man is urging people to realise that poetry is 'not just for poets’ after it changed the direction of his life.
With Fixers, Tony Supreme has made a film to show how poetry can help young people from the most challenging of backgrounds to express their feelings.
The 27-year-old says he started writing secretly when he started senior school, but it was when he went to prison five years ago that it helped him to totally re-evaluate.
‘Poetry saved me from continuing down a very different path to the one I am on today,’ says Tony. ‘It has played a big part in shaping the person I have become and has improved my self-esteem immensely.’
He says that his ‘most profound time’ in regards to writing came when he was convicted of Violent Disorder in 2012.
‘I wrote so much while I was in there,’ says Tony. ‘I knew I had to keep my mind active rather than spiraling downwards. It helped me to make sense of my situation and what I wanted to do when I got out. Prison was a real turning point for me.’
Getting into trouble in his late-teens and early twenties, Tony says he felt compelled to act aggressively to fit in with his peers.
‘The clothing, the girls, the hunger for money were all part of it, but for me fighting was my thing,’ he says. ‘Rather than speak or communicate, I would fight.
‘So many young men have a history of aggression, but poetry became my anger management therapy when I was in prison and still is at times.’
Following his release, he completed his Criminology with Social Psychology degree and started to perform on the London poetry circuit.
Now a radio show host, Tony says poetry can create a safe space for difficult topics such as violence amongst youth, sexual exploitation and mental health to be shared and discussed in a healthy way.
‘With so many issues going on in the home and the community, young people can carry so much in their minds and it can be so damaging, it can almost steal their childhood,’ he says.
‘Poetry can provide a place for them to offload it all and then go back to being a young person or a child again. That’s so important.’
The film Tony made with Fixers features a selection of talented UK performance poets revealing how they discovered poetry and the impact it has had on them personally.
‘I hope people watch the film and realise that you don't have to be perfect or experienced to express yourself or share your opinion, your words are valid so speak and write your truth.’
This Fixers project is supported by Make My Day Better.
To find other resources on this topic, and watch Fixers films, click on the image below:
*NOTE: Some Fixers exceed the age range of 16 to 25 during the course of their project.