A Starving Artist Loves Her Life

Her stage name is Honeycomb, but the dazzling spoken word poet, Tawana Petty, wears her ‘real’ name and lives her ‘real’ life in rugged authenticity here in Detroit. She first appeared on my radar as the real life Tawana Petty, a poor working mom, who rocked the Occupy movement when she fired off a Dear Protestors letter that got an avalanche of comments, likes and shares in a Facebook meme (later landing on HuffingtonPost)

In that post, entitled “Why a Single, Struggling, Partially Employed, Barely Mobile, Black Mother Of A Teenage Son Has Yet To Occupy,” she coolly recited her state of affairs in a very matter-of-fact way saying, “I don’t have a pot to piss in. I live with relatives, my car that I still pay a car note on is down, I take a nearly 2 hour bus ride into the City everyday to work part-time.” Adding that she’s raising a son and has no assets she summed up, “I am as “occupied” as one can get.”

Rebuking any tone of self-pity she went on to appeal to Occupy organizers (speaking to “Occupiers” generally, not just to Detroit’s version) to reach into their ‘deepest level of humanity.” She pointed to power-jockeying within the movement and her own conflict of wanting to be in solidarity as an occupier but was faced with the everyday struggle to maintain her and her son’s marginalized survival. Her sentiments hit a nerve in asserting that she was looking for “freedom from oppression, not a politically correct newer version of it.” Spoken with the honesty and poignancy that I have come to know as her hallmark, Tawana Petty signed the letter, “With much love and respect, #occupiedout.”

It was by accident that I stumbled across her spoken word as a result of asking to friend her on Facebook. If you’re a FB person, you know how that goes – you see a spirited comment by someone responding to a post on your FB stream and follow-up with a friend request. In fact, her comment has stuck with me: “I love my life, it’s the circumstances that I’m not liking so much.”

Inspired by that, I dug deeper finding her FB meme and her poetry. In my FB request I gushed, “I’m a fan of your verse and would like to friend you!” She answered with zeal, “Thank you so much!” And noting she was near her FB friends quota said, “I will delete someone so that I may add you. Much Love …”

As the spoken word artist, Honeycomb, her work oozes with a deep wisdom arising from an otherworldly understanding. It’s clear that Honeycomb is Tawana Petty’s alter ego; the one that takes the stage to rhythmically detail life on Detroit’s gritty streets. I’m posting one of my favorites here, “She Had.”


ComScore

Ever since our initial FB contact, we’ve had a continued personal FB dialogue and a couple phone calls. We’re culturally different (me – middle-aged white, her – young and black) but so simpatico in our understanding that one’s self-worth – or lack of it – steers our destiny. In the subtext of her exquisite poetry is everything that this women-based project, Shetroit, embraces: Learn to believe in ourselves, heal our own wounds, own our own self-worth. This is the place from which all possibilities can spring.

To that end, Tawana Honeycomb Petty tirelessly works and mothers while she stirs the limitless boundaries of her amplified poetic soul. Recognition of her talent is growing and her venues become more frequent and varied. She’s also recently released a book, Introducing Honeycomb, that should help fuel her career and make her a more potent champion for those she so passionately portrays in her verse. Honeycomb and I, we’ve not met yet, but I look forward to that day.

Becca

About Becca

A transplant to Detroit, Becca Williams is wondering what's all this fuss about Detroit and its metro area? Eight mile, suburbs, lots of 'zebras,' pitting who against whom? She just says, "Let's get the women together and we'll figure it out." So here it is: Shetroit.com: Women Dreaming Detroit. And another thing, she comes from Chicago where the whole metro area was referred to as 'Chicagoland.' It's a big hug that says, "We share a land. We're community." From now on, Detroitland. Click here to read more about Rebecca

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14 Responses to A Starving Artist Loves Her Life

  1. shaunda March 26, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

    Wow this is amazing…….GOD HAS A PLAN FOR YOU MY FAITHFUL SISTAH. YOU ARE A ROLE MODEL TO SO MANY PEOPLE AND YOUR WORDS ARE POWERFUL WITH MEANING. I ENJOYED YOUR FIRST BOOK AND IT WAS AWESOME. MAKE SURE YOU THROW ME A COPY OF THE NEXT BOOK AS IT COMES OFF THE PRESS O:-)…….KEEP YOUR HEAD TO THE SKY THE LORD IS HOLDING HIS DAUGHTER HAND……DETROIT LOV ES YOU….

    • Honeycomb May 16, 2012 at 12:20 am #

      Shaunda,

      I am so sorry for the delay! Thank you sister! I appreciate and love you and Detroit!

  2. Honeycomb December 14, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    Oya, you are an amazing woman! Thank you for your kind words and all you do sis! I look forward to working with you as well. Much love!!

  3. Oya Amakisi December 13, 2011 at 10:47 pm #

    Tawana is phenomenal! I am looking forward to reading her new book and working with her in the future. She is a brilliant light in the city of Detroit. Keep shining. We are listening…

  4. Atiba Seitu December 13, 2011 at 10:12 pm #

    I was sleepy, but Tawana (Honeycomb) Petty, I am now awake.
    “A starving artist loves her life”! Whoa, that’s a mouthful and
    much to digest for me. After my gig at Avalon Breads I took a walk
    around the neighborhood, the university campus, and I was
    wondering about my life past and present…wondering did I
    squander opportunities, whether the boat has set sail and I’m
    standing on the shoreline watching it pull away…asking myself
    whether I have more ‘shoulda’s’ & ‘coulda’s’. Then I read
    about Ms. Honeycomb “loving her life.”

    Ms. Petty, this evening, Atiba is awake…I’m awake and pondering
    my blessed life.

    Atiba Seitu

    • Honeycomb December 14, 2011 at 11:25 am #

      Atiba bless you! I have been there and I am still human so I’d be lying if I didn’t say I don’t stil get there at times. However, something I like to say to myself is “every trial is a testimonly in progress.” We have so much to learn and so much to share with the world. Every experience is a blessing…

      Much love and thank you!

  5. Kimara Dickerson December 11, 2011 at 8:27 am #

    Tawanna, you are a gifted and talented young woman and I am inspired by your words. You have a beautiful spirit and everyone who comes into contact with you knows that immediately. Your article speaks volumes and is so relatable; continue to use your GOD given talent to reach a multitude of people who can be encouraged and uplifted by your words…Love you much Kimara D.

    • Honeycomb December 14, 2011 at 11:23 am #

      Kim, thank you so much sis! I appreciate you! God bless you and I love you!

  6. LaShanna December 10, 2011 at 1:14 pm #

    Tawana, is everything you speak of and more. She has the blessing and curse to see good in everyone and this often drives her to give her all to help others. As her sister, we often debate our differences but neither of us negates the truth that comes from these discussions. We both love the city we were born in, she embraces her struggles and they manifest into beautiful words upon her notepad. Her words are often the prescription needed for those who have experienced similar circumstances or who have never experienced any of her plights but simply love her honesty. We are polar opposites she exudes her weaknesses where I am more discreet but her struggles are my struggles because we are sisters so if she’s #occupiedout so am I.

    • Honeycomb December 10, 2011 at 11:52 pm #

      LaShanna, your response has brought me to tears. Wow! Thank you sis! I don’t know what to say other than I love and appreciate you and your constant support!

  7. Honeycomb December 10, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

    Deekah, I share the same sentiments about you sis! Thank you and I appreciate you! I can’t wait to rock the stage with you next Saturday!

  8. Deekah Wyatt December 9, 2011 at 10:41 pm #

    YES!! HONEYCOMB IS AWESOME! Inspiring does not begin to describe this Phenomenal WHOA-man!

  9. Ronda December 9, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

    You go! You are a shining example of Detroit goodness.

    • Honeycomb December 10, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

      Thank you so much! I appreciate that more than you know!

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