Monday, November 30, 2015

SuiteFranchon Goes from Stage to Page with Her New Book

SuiteFranchon (aka Franchon Roberts Beeks) is a prolific poet/performer in the Delaware Valley. She currently hosts her own production in and around Wilmington called "Peace, Love & Poetry," and she just celebrated the release of her first book, Living the Journey. We caught up with this local artist recently to chat about all things art and poetry. 

Do you prefer being called a 'spoken word artist' or 'poet'? Is there a difference?I don't really have a preference. If you are a traditionalist then I would be considered a poet. If you're more contemporary, you may prefer to call me a spoken word artist, mainly because I perform my poetry. In my mind, there is not a difference, but educators may beg to differ. Although "spoken word" predates the written work (aka poetry), I think the only difference is written verse verses the performance of poetry. (If that makes sense.)

What drew you to this art form? What about the medium "speaks" to you (no pun intended)?I have always been a reader and lover of words. Poetry such as Rumi, Nikki Giovanni and Ntozake Shange always moved me. Even Psalms from the Bible attracted my attention. Also, I have always loved soul music because it is like poetry with music and that really influences my style of writing and performing. I have always liked poetry because it tells a story in just a few verses --- that always resonated with me. I began to write verses down just to capture my thoughts, and it evolved from there.

How long have you been performing? My first performance was at an open mic event called "Po-Jazz" about 15 years ago. After a six-year hiatus, I begin performing again about five years ago under my own productions called, Peace, Love & Poetry.

Who were your mentors or inspirations?I have "virtual" mentors such as the late Maya Angelou (poet), the late Teena Marie (songwriter/singer) and Bill Duke (movie director and writer)...and the list goes on! I find inspiration almost everywhere and in many things. In fact, in my book, Living the Journey, you will find a poem called "Surely There's a Poem in It," where I talk about "...can't think of no thing that does not create poetry!" For me, poetry is my life and life is poetry!

What made you want to write a book now? I wanted to be sure to compile my poetry to share with others. Once the book was completed, it inspired me to want to write more and work on the second book immediately.

Do you have a favorite passage in the book?My favorite verse is found on page 43. The poem is "To Remain Righteous." The verse reads:
"I have lived in the belly of the social-economic beast
Among others who have lost their way
Forced to swallow the bile of poverty"

This passage keeps me mindful of my most challenging days. It reminds me that our greatest fault as a country is not addressing the issues of poverty they way we should and that our country is only as strong as our weakest fellow man. I have felt like I was in the "belly of darkness" and resided there with others who were trying to find their way. But, the poem continues to talk about how I always felt hope. I have never felt hopeless. That poem is like my "hope and see the light" poem.

What was the most difficult part of writing a book?Sitting still and organizing it to tell the story the way I wanted others to see it. It was important to me to not just throw a bunch of poems in a book --- It had to make sense.

What do you want readers to take away from your book? Is there an overall message?I hope that those that read it step away with some insight into my values, hopes and dreams and, as a result, they want to dream more --- and bigger. I hope they are inspired to do more, no matter their age or circumstances. I pray that they choose love.

What are your artistic goals for 2016 and beyond? Next year (2016) is already proving to be a busy and exceptional year. I am already booking events into 2017!

I expect (and I say this with clear intentions) to continue to stretch as a performer by booking more performances and speaking engagements. I expect my CD to be completed and released by March 2016. I expect to book a West Coast and South East tours. I expect to publish my second book which will be a combination of short stories and poems. In 2017, I plan to release a documentary called "Living the Journey, Life according to SuiteFranchon" and complete my script called "Scars." I think that is enough to expect from the Universe and myself for now! LOL!

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