KANSAS CITY, Mo. — She's a poet and a songwriter, but her words aren't solely for your entertainment.
TeiannaRe-AL Cooper hopes her poetry will encourage people to act and get involved in their communities.
Cooper began performing spoken word in 2005. It started with a poem she wrote for her pastor and aunt, but today, she says she often finds her inspiration in the struggles and traumatic experiences people go through in everyday life.
Recently, she wrote a poem in response to the #MeToo movement and a disturbing viral video, which showed a child performing oral sex on an adult. It led her to write the poem "Ebony Bride."
Warning: This video contains some explicit language.
Cooper says she too is a survivor of molestation. She says in "Ebony Bride" she felt compelled to give that child a voice.
"Because she's so young," said Cooper. "I know one day she'll look out to the world for identity, confirmation and validation that she is not what she's gone through."
But Cooper says the poem isn't only for victims of abuse.
"My hope is that we be mindful of the things we tell our young girls and that we give them hope that they will be able to overcome the traumatic things they go through when they are younger," Cooper said.
Cooper says her work normally centers around relationships, mental health, sexual abuse and homelessness.
Her goal is that each poem will move listeners to do something about the things happening in their communities or encourage them to take power back over their own lives.
Cooper is originally from Kansas City but spent many years in the Dallas area. She says it hasn't always been easy along the way. Her mother passed away and afterwards, her father was diagnosed with cancer. She uses poetry to cope.
"Poetry is therapy. It is really my way of resolving some of the issues that I have going on, the day-to-day stresses," Cooper said.
Even though she writes poetry, Cooper does not call herself a poet. She prefers the term "writer" because she also writes songs. She says most of her poems are even put to music and she rarely performs them acapella.
Cooper carries a hefty resume when it comes to her work. She's produced shows in Kansas City, self-published books, been included in an anthology, performed at The Potter's House in Dallas, Texas and she writes and performs for weddings.