October 23, 2018 Artist to Watch: Donney Rose

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Donney Rose: Words.

How, When, and Why He Chooses To Use His

Donney Rose is a poet, teaching artist, and community activist from Baton Rouge. He is the marketing director for the arts-based non-profit, Forward Arts, Inc. and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge. He is a 2018-2019 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow and a member of Baton Rouge Business Report's 2017 Forty Under 40 Class. His work as a performance poet/writer has been featured in a variety of publications, both in print and online.

What brought you to Baton Rouge and when did you arrive?

I arrived in Baton Rouge in 1980 thanks to the awesome lovemaking skills of my parents (lol). In other words I have been here all the days of my 38 years.

What are your thoughts on the arts opportunities in Baton Rouge?

I believe that the arts opportunities in Baton Rouge are subjective to the genre of art. In more 'traditional' genres such as orchestra or visual art (painting, sculpting) or (some) theater the opportunities are plentiful. I think in regards to more contemporary/urban/subversive forms of art (spoken word poetry, hip hop dance, graffiti art etc.) the opportunities are not as rich. Many participants/organizers of these forms have had to curate with minimal institutional support. So the opportunities to be both an artist that's visible and economically stable are difficult when you dwell outside of the mainstream perception of what art is supposed to be.

Were you always interested in poetry and writing?

I developed an appreciation for creative writing at a very young age and was primarily influenced by hip hop. It has always been fascinating for me to see men of color, many who have been under educated, bend the English language in rich, colorful ways. Hip hop was my access point into poetry. Spoken word poetry in particular shares some of hip hop's DNA. But writing poetry has expanded my worldview and sensibilities in ways unimaginable. 

Who are you influenced by?

I was influenced by my mother who taught reading in elementary and middle schools. I am influenced by the youth I work with as a teaching artist. I am influenced by creatives in the literary world and beyond who push the envelope of creativity. I'm also influenced by my past work and how it can be improved.

What are you inspired by?

I'm inspired by the idea that art can be a conversation starter and a push towards resolve when at its best. I write to deconstruct a lot of negative norms I have been inundated with and to build a new world for myself just by daring to articulate what that world can be.

What do you like about the culture of Baton Rouge?

Culturally, I feel that Baton Rouge is a place where virtually everyone can find their tribe. Sometimes the search can be difficult, but because we are mid sized, relatively slow moving city, when you find your people you can nurture those relationships and build with one another. We are a place rife with social inequalities, but the load is lightened when you find folks of shared interests and are looking to improve the landscape just as you are.

Do you have any upcoming events?

I personally do not have any upcoming events, but the organization I work for (Forward Arts) has two more teen open mics this semester. November 7th and December 6th at the Main Library at Goodwood. Info at forwardarts.org.

Where can folks go to read your work online, and in person?

My work can be found online at my website http://donneyrosepoetry.com. The site has tabs to online journals and videos where it can be accessed. As far as in person, I can be found at random open mics around town. I don't get out to them as much as I once did, but if you hear of a poetry open mic or poetry slam, it's highly probable that I will either know about it or possibly be there performing.