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Xavier Magazine | November 23, 2017

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Profile: Khary Kimani Turner

Khary Kimani Turner

Bachelor of Arts in communication arts, 1992.

Writer/editor for United Way Community Services in Detroit; freelance writer published in national hip-hop magazines.

Poetic Sounds | Turner writes poetry then performs it with his band, Black Bottom Collective. “It’s a mix of poetry, hip-hop and funk. We take the poetry of my book and set it to music. I’m a performance poet who came out of the hip-hop tradition, so most of my poetry is written in a certain meter.”

The Book | In 2000, he self-published a book of poetry, Outta You: Early Selfloveactivism.

Spider Man | “I wrote my first poem when I was 13 about a spider. I did it to beat my fear of spiders. I made myself stare at a spider. I realized ‘I’m bigger than you,’ then I wrote about it. I wasn’t scared of them anymore.”

Philosophy 101 | “Even at Xavier I was known for promoting the African-American perspective, but I was never one to do it in a separatist fashion. My philosophy is, ‘This is my view, and you are welcome to discuss it.’ Our music takes the same approach.”

Spare Time | He’s a former board member of the NAACP’s Detroit branch, and helped organize hip-hop summits. “We would get hundreds of young people together for workshops on things like voter registration, technology and entrepreneurship. Then at the end of the day we would have a hip-hop concert.”

Muses | Maya Angelou, Robert Frost and Jill Scott, a singer whose poetry is set to a rhythm and blues beat. “She came out of nowhere and sold 3 million records. She made our work acceptable.”

No Wonder | Turner met Stevie Wonder when his band opened for one of Wonder’s concerts. “I’ve got a picture of me with him. It was great. He wanted me to send him some of our music, but the battery in my Palm Pilot died and I lost his address.”

TV Time | He won the Detroit competition for the Def Poetry Jam and is slated to do the Def Poetry Jam on HBO. “I’m a semi-finalist, which means at some point I’ll be on the show.”

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