Flenardo Taylor
Kirsten Fiscus / The Anniston Star

Flenardo Taylor leads Poetic Empowerment, a group of local poets and other artists. Poetic Empowerment will host a Poetry After Dark open mic on Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. at The Peerless in Anniston in celebration of the group’s sixth anniversary.

What led you to join the military?

Participating in the ROTC, and I also was unsure if I wanted to attend college right after graduation. I am now in civilian government/reserves following my career in the Army. I work at the reserve center in town in logistics supply, and I do my master sergeant work at Redstone Arsenal.

How do you make the jump from military man to poet?

Believe it or not, there are a lot of poets in the military. In 2008, at the camp I was stationed at in Arifjan (in Kuwait), I helped start an open mic at the Starbucks, and it is still going on.

Were you always into poetry?

I really got into it during senior year of high school. I would write a lot, but I would never share it with anybody. In 2003, I started writing and trying to perform more. I do spoken word poetry; you write down your work but then typically you memorize it.

What subjects do you cover in your poetry?

Life. I try to cover everything from spiritual to reality to street life to HIV to safe sex awareness.

What is Poetic Empowerment?

It is a platform united by passionate artists to uplift, encourage, teach and reach the world through artistic arts. It is passion. Any artists — poets, singers, musicians, comedians, whoever — can come together and work together. Poetic Empowerment is for 18 and up, but we also have a youth poetry group. If someone is interested in joining Poetic Empowerment or the youth poetry group, contact us at poeticempowerment1@gmail.com.

Why is Poetic Empowerment needed in Anniston?

I believe we can come together with art. Art has always healed the world. One lady drives from Attalla for our events because she feels loved. We also have artists that come from Atlanta and Birmingham.

Tell us about the Poetry After Dark event on Feb. 11.

Our Poetry After Dark events are every second Sunday, and this one is our sixth anniversary event. It will be in the side of the Peerless with the stage. Food and drinks will be available for purchase throughout the night, but if you plan to order food, please get there early.

What local favorites can we expect to see at this Poetry After Dark?

Several favorites will be there, including LaCheryl Jones-Wynn, DeaLove’, Casanova, Lyrical Divine and Narada Culpepper.

What can we expect from this show?

It is an open-range open mic. You could hear anything from spirituality to sexuality. I want people to have the freedom to vent and release whatever they have going on in their lives.

What is the cost to attend?

All performing artists may attend for free, if they arrive by 6:45 p.m. An artist may reserve a seat for $5; non-artist reserve seating is $10. Advance tickets (seating: first come, first served) are also $5. Tickets at the door are $7.

Faith Dorn is a freelance writer in Anniston. Contact her at faith.h.dorn@gmail.com.