Erica “Serenity” Hansberry is a local Jacksonville poet with a message for the masses.
“I’ve been called to inspire people,” she said.
Through her poems she touches on bitter subjects of her past and how she has grown to become the better woman she is today. Hansberry is currently working on publishing a collection of poems titled “Intro to Serenity.” The book will consists of 75 poems, that vary in length and are what Hansberry calls “inspirational.” The book shadows her journey to becoming a better person.
“At bare minimum, I would want someone to say ‘wow, I never thought about it like that,’ ” she said. “It may not change their actions right away, but at least it was a stepping stone to get them thinking about it differently.”
Hansberry initially began writing poetry when she was about 15 or 16 years old. She used it as a way to escape her surroundings. She says that during that period in her life she was a totally different person on the inside that what others were physically seeing. Some of it she credits to not having her mother around.
“I still had the need for the motherly love. I learned a lot on my own the hard way,” Hansberry said. “Some things a man can’t teach you.” Hansberry was mainly raised by her father, an experience she says she’s grateful for in the end.
If you’ve ever read or heard anything by Hansberry who goes by the stage name “Serenity”, then it’s clear she’s been through some tough times in her life. During the interview she expressed the thought of “you live and you learn.” Many of the tough times Hansberry mentioned focused on the unhealthy relationship with her child’s father.
“I was so caught up with my child’s father,” she said. “I was not focused like I should have been.” There a few poems in her up and coming book that focus on their relationship. Despite her ups and downs with her child’s father, Hansberry’s claims her 4-year-old daughter, Tionna, helped push her out of her chaotic mind frame and into her new-found place of peace.
“I had to start making better choices for me and her,” said Hansberry. “I wanted her to grow up in a different kind of society.”
Hansberry has taken all her focus and put it towards her daughter, school and her future in poetry. She seems very determined to share her work with others. She has done several performances at places like Square One, Cafe 331 and even DejaVu. Hansberry has even seemed to form a tight-knit relationship with other poets who share similar passion such as Moses West, Seven Soul Jones, Cuban, Love Reigns and many other poets that may be locally known in Jacksonville.
“It seems like a close-knit community. It’s usually the same poets at the same spots,” Hansberry said.
Hansberry isn’t also one to shy away from encouraging others on their own spoken word journey.
“Don’t be a dreamer, be a visionary” she said. “Dreamers dream without action, but visionaries have goals that they set and actions they take. Allow your vision to become your reality.”
If you’re looking for ways to stay updated about the latest works from Serenity she has a monthly newsletter that she sends out once a month through email. (firstname.lastname@example.org). In the newsletter she gives sneak peeks of some of the poems from the book. She’s on Facebook and also has a YouTube channel “Serenity the messenger.”
Here’s a link to her latest newsletter for July: Serenity July newsletter (*Props for giving me a shout out in the newsletter!*)