Orville Walker, better known as Orville the Poet, used a pen to get him through his life experiences. He is one of the emerging writers in the DC area using poetry to spread the word. Poetry has become his breath of fresh air, his meditation, and his therapy. After writing for several years, he decided to share his work with the world. In November 2009, Orville gave an audience at the 12th Street Lounge in Washington, DC a little peek inside his world.
His poems speak a vivid truth about the struggles of being an artist and staying constant and true to oneself. Writers need to stay true to themselves for sure. His poetry is for the voiceless. His poems seek to address the issues which no one else cares to speak about. He releases pent up emotions with his pen. His compelling words have been shared on many stages, in front of numerous audiences. Orville has been the featured poet at spoken word venues such as Busboys & Poets, Messiah & Friends, Indulj, Mood Lounge, and Just Wine, Cheese & Poetry.
He is one-half of Brothers Placed to Motivate (BPM), a spoken word group formed by Anthony Passmore, aka Godson. Founded in 2008, BPM’s sole purpose is to dispel negative views on Blacks in the media and other social outlets by speaking a universal truth about the ways Blacks are portrayed. BPM hopes to reach their audiences through the power of spoken word. I sat down with Orville the Poet to see what makes him tick.
When did you first began to write poetry?
I started writing poetry at the age of 14 or 15. I was going through a lot at the time in my life and I kinda stumbled upon it. I always loved writing. I was always fascinated with literature. My mom made it her business to see that we read books at an early age and made us write book reports. It was then that I was introduced to the great poet, Langston Hughes.
How long have you been doing poetry in this area? Where did you first get started?
I have been doing spoken word about four or five years in the DC area. The first poem I ever shared publicly was at church. The first open mic I ever did was on U Street (I can’t remember the venue’s name).
Was it Bar Nun?
It was not Bar Nun. But I now have an event now at Pure Lounge, which was Bar Nun, everyfirst Wednesday of the month.
What inspired you to share your talents?
I was reading something to myself in my room that I had written and a friend was in earshot and walked in my room. Actually, he kinda barged in my room. He was like “Whoa, who is that.” I was like “that’s something I wrote” and I tried to shove it way. The friend said that I needed to share it. But I didn’t share that particular poem for years and years after. Sharing now the experiences I have gone through (ummm) is for a reason and someone always gains something from it. You never know how what you have gone through will touch or inspire or save someone from another situation.
How do you define art?
Art is a reflection of self. Art can be the way you dress. It can be the way you style your hair. It can be the way you put words together or the way you sing or the way you speak. Art is life.
Who are some of the people who influence you or inspire you? Which great writers do you love?
Maya Angelou was an early inspiration. I had the privilege of serving at the Maya Angelou Charter High School under a good friend, Karim Bailey, an artist. I have been blessed to have some great friends who happen to be artists as well. I also influenced by Godson and the poet JusMe. There is a lot of young talent, like Xavier the Poet. A lot of my peers inspire me.
I was first introduced to you as a host for Nik McCoy’s poetry shows. What sets you apart from other poets and writers in this area?
I’m a regular guy. I work hard everyday. I put my whole self into what I do. My mom helped me when I first started. I had a problem with memorization. She said that I didn’t have to memorize my stuff to be effective. I just had to be what I say. Every time I share a poem, it’s something from the heart, it’s something very genuine. That’s that.
Do you consider spoken word to be a lifestyle?
I think whenever you spend as much time as I do, or any artist in a particular field, you have to study. You have to eat it, live it, breathe it—it becomes a lifestyle. I really enthrall myself in poetry. I look up to other poets. I’m reading the great writers like Langton Hughes, Maya Angelou, and Nikki Giovanni. There is a quote by Robert Motherwell, “Art is much less important than life, but what a poor life without it.” I really think that describes how I feel about art. Live your life. Sometimes as artist we take ourselves too seriously. But what a poor life without it.
What is advice you can give to aspiring spoken word artist or writers?
To just keep doing it. Know your lane and don’t revert from it. A lot of people want to enter the craft and wanna do or say one thing. Then they switch up in order to generate more fans, applause, or because it sells. Stay true to yourself, keep doing you, and keep going.