reflections | stories | testimony

Zuri | Artist, Choreographer, Thesbian​

“Around the time I met Eris, my life was trying to change. There she was being different and poetic and just herself, and it gave me hope. That I could really be the “ME” I missed so much. When she gave me her card I kept it for a long while just as a reminder of all the possibilities of me. The thought of her personal courage, to be charmingly, undeniably and unapologetically Eris inspired me. Something about Eris is kindred, and it helped my personal vision get a little more backbone.”

Siaara Freeman | Poet

I believe that all things are rooted somewhere, even if the roots are not visible, they are there and they are working. When I think of my poetry, I realize it is a thing of a roots. Eris is one roots. I met her at 17, easily the most awful time period in my life to date, my father was just murdered and I was preparing to slam for a team. That summer when I felt I had lost everything, I clung to my poetry and also the competition of slam poetry, fiercely. That summer I was almost unable to slam and given the circumstances… the idea was unbearable. My mother (bless her and all mothers) fronted half of the money needed to attend the competition, gave me the initiative to raise the other half and told me to find a coach.


I came to Eris and asked her to coach. Actually “ask” is a kindness I’m offering my young self. There I was, 17 at her college dorm, grief stricken and lost almost demanding she stop her life and help me. And she did. It is not until now as I am writing this, roughly the age she was then, that I realize how selfless of an act that was. Eris, did not just edit poems and performance that year, she gave guidance and time and personal space, relentlessly. Not just to me, to five other young adults, one who passed away (rest up Jimmi) and gave us a summer of togetherness, a summer I look back to fondly especially now.

Eris continued to play a role in my life as mentor after she was finished coaching. Eris knows me more than most people and has always treated me as an individual. She knew when I required advice and help and also when I needed to learn things my way even if it was (and it is often) the hard way. She has allowed me to watch her growth, rise and falls unabashedly and has served as influence of freedom within self-awareness and acceptance. As I continue to grow, she reminds me she is proud. When she sees publications or hears about shows, she lets me know she is proud. She also lets me know that I can come to her when I am sad and angry and secretly 17. It is an unspoken bond that happens when you are sistered at a young age in black urban Cleveland, it is a special type of magik as is she.