KANSAS CITY, Mo. — To Sheri Purpose Hall, poetry is living, but ironically the art form didn't come to her until after death. She says she began writing at seven years old after her grandfather passed away.
"I wrote a poem to commemorate him with because he, at that time, had been the only man in my life and I lost him," said Hall. "It just seemed that poetry and art was a form of catharsis so I always experienced a new birth after engaging myself in art."
But death didn't knock once, but twice. Years later, she found herself having to grapple with the murder of the father of her two daughters. She says this time, it didn't only put the pen in her hand, but also gave her the courage to step on stage.
"It was the one year anniversary of the murder and I had a choice to either sit at the grave and live with the dead or let the dead walk with the dead and go do poetry," Hall said.
She'd soon find herself at a poetry event put on by For His Will Entertainment. She says the decision to go gave her a whole new life.
"For me, poetry is living," said Hall. " I breathe through my words, I heal through my words, I help others heal through my words and I help others heal through their words."
Hall writes about everything from womanhood to relationships and Christianity. She says in all of the hardships, God is the One who kept her going and even encouraged her to write her first book, but it didn't happen in the timing she had expected.
In 2009, she says someone broke into her house and stole her computer. The thief got away with all of her written work, but no setback could stop Hall from doing what she says God told her to do: publish a book in 2015.
"I want to be an example that no matter what sets you back, you have to continue to persevere, you have to continue to push forward," said Hall. "Delayed obedience is better than no obedience. Delayed finishing is better than not finishing at all. You need to keep running the race."
In late 2015, Hall self-published that book. Today, she has three books, including her latest project, "Black Girl Shattered." She is also a well-known slam poet, who recently competed in the Woman of the World Poetry Slam in Dallas, Texas. Hall is also part of the Charlotte Street Residency program and host of the Gospel of Poets radio show on Gospel KUAW 98.5.
"If you have a spark of something inside of you, go make that thing happen and do it," Hall said.