Traci Neal: From Pre-K Aide To Professional Poet

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Traci Neal: From Pre-K Aide To Professional Poet

You do have a story. It needs to be told. I know this. You have dreams and goals. I know this, too. Don’t wait for change. Start something new. Let me share my story with you. Believe me. It’s true.

It begins in middle school.  I do not look like other girls.  I don’t have a shape.  I think I’m not cool. At age 14, I see I write poetry well.  Surprisingly, my peers, who bully me, can also tell. My mother takes me to my first open mic. It’s at the SC Book Festival on the State Fairgrounds. I’m the youngest one in the room hands down! I don’t want to make a sound.

My mother pushes me to share a poem.  All the other poets who went before me, they read, but I don’t read.  I perform proudly with authority to lead. My love for poetry doesn’t stop there.  No, I do not come up for air.  By high school, I’m in the SC newspaper for Summerville.   I win contests for my poems in college.  College is where I stop performing.  I think poetry won’t pay the bills.

I pursue teaching instead.  My dad is a retired high school teacher.  He gives me his love for teaching.  It is what kept my mind well-fed.  10 years of my life, I try to pass the Praxis II Exam.  I never reach the mark.  I had put my brain through so much information, it could no longer cram.  I took the exam 10 times.  After the fifth one, I am done.  I can’t tell my father this.  I think it will hurt him a ton.

Once I go for the 10th Praxis round and fail, I definitely know I won’t do it again.  This is when I make a tough decision.  My faith in God tells me, “I will win!”  I let teaching go.  I leap by faith to help my poetry to grow.  In only seven months time, I have been a guest on 22 radio shows.  Two special radio stations of these shows were iHeart and VoiceAmerica Empowerment. 

I have been a Pre-K Aide, within the 10 times of taking the Praxis II Exam, for eight years.  I once saw myself as a failure. Yes, I have shed many tears.  I realize something out of it all.  You may have to break down several strong walls.  You may every now and then, fall. Trust your process.


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