Falley, a spoken-word artist, became interested in writing and performing through listening to her mother's music in the car as a child. "I was always into song lyrics, and my mom would play Annie Lennox over and over. The distinct lyrics would really hit me — all she could do with words,'' she said. We caught up with Falley, 25, after her recent visit to Admiral Farragut Academy, where she performed and shared poetry tips with students. She is a graduate of State University of New York New Paltz and in 2009 helped start what has grown into one of the largest collegiate spoken-word tournaments in the country, the Wade-Lewis Poetry Slam Invitational. In 2012, she released a poetry collection, After the Witch Hunt.
What's on your nightstand?
I'm usually reading a novel and a poetry book. I try not to balance too much more than that. Right now, I'm reading The Liars' Club by Mary Karr, and the poetry I'm reading is When My Brother Was an Aztec by Natalie Diaz.
How did you choose fellow poet Diaz to read?
It's the first collection I've read of hers, but I saw her work online. She writes about her brother's drug addiction, which I also write about. It was really powerful to check it out. It's good to read someone else's perspective, and I almost felt like I wrote some of it.
How did you enjoy working with the students at Admiral Farragut Academy?
They were so polite. One of the first things I had to do was tell them not to call me ma'am. I felt so close to their age. ... I think one of the ways I was able to draw them in is because I seemed to catch them off guard. I've got pink hair. I sometimes curse in my work. Sometimes with spoken word, it's pretty much the opposite of what they expect in a classroom.
Piper Castillo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4163.