Renata Burnette speaks her truth

Renata Burnette has been lighting up the poetic stage for the last two years.

Renatta began reciting her poems while a sixth former at St Joseph High School. “I’d write in my free time then say my poems for my friends. I remember one particular friend, Lisa, saying, ‘One day when you get to a professional level, we’ll come and watch you.’ They have since been coming to support me. It’s good to have them around. They are very encouraging, although it can be embarrassing sometimes when they get going,” she said.

The young woman who is recognized as a spoken-word poet sometimes dabbles in floetry, another kind of poetry done to music.

When Renata first started, she used to write every single word down but over the years, memorizing has become such a habit that even now while a poem is being conceived, it is already being memorized. Renata has remarkably saved to memory almost a dozen of her poems.

“Poetry is freedom to me. It expresses what you feel and think and allows one to motivate people by what is said. It’s not having fear in the face of fear,” she said.

Many of Renata’s poems are inspirational and would reflect daily struggles and issues. She will first perceive thought of whether it is something she believes her audiences need to hear and then go about in her head arranging the words in the order she wants them to hear them.

“People that I look up to are sometimes inspired by my pieces… I feel honoured and humble. I feel that the answers are right before us but sometimes all we need is for someone to place emphasis on a particular topic or the solutions and I guess that’s what I do… I just shine a bigger light on the things that are already there,” she explained.

She has strong opinions on topics relating on politics, women’s empowerment and black history and is also passionate about self-esteem and religion, so her poems often surround these.

As a poet, Renata has dealt with her own challenges, one being people knowing what she was capable of before she herself figured it out, and who took it upon themselves to ask her to recite for free instead of paying her. Then there were men in distinguished positions trying to prey on her, which she said is nothing new for other poets like herself. Her personal experiences serve as challenges sometimes and knowing that it’s not just her walking down this path, she puts them into words hoping to impact the lives of those on the listening end.

But Renata is sure that the positives of poetry outweigh the negatives. One of her main advantages of doing this is not only impacting people’s lives but having them stop and think about the message being brought through this form.

The spoken-word poet distinctly recalls her first time on stage. “… It was definitely overwhelming but just the same it was empowering and exciting as well knowing that I had a forum where I could freely express myself… just say what I needed to and leave it onstage. It was almost as if I was giving parts of myself to strangers that I would never get back but it’s okay.”

A moment she holds dear to her heart was getting the opportunity to perform at the first business expo because of someone who liked her poetry. Renata noted that this was a scary experience, but the idea that she got such an opportunity makes her feel privileged. All in all, it was unforgettable experience she will cherish for the rest of her life.

Renata has had the opportunity of meeting and being inspired by some people in her field like poets Ebeny Stewart and Crystal VanDoimen. She’s also inspired by singer J Cole but if she had the chance to meet a star it would be singer Lauren Hill specifically because her poetry is “deep” and she’s also one of the greatest singers. Lauren Hill for Renata represents women and culture, a representation she does effortlessly. Renata said that should she become half the woman Hill is, then she would have lived a full life.

As a woman she has been working on herself and healing from her own experiences, realizing that it has become so hard for one to fully accept and love themselves so one day when she is old or no more, she hopes she would have taught people the importance of self-love, a legacy she wishes to pass on.

Speaking on passing on, Renata has some words to pass on to aspiring poets: “Go for it! Speak your truth. Not everyone will like what you say but they will listen. They will! That is all the opportunity you will ever need.”

Her favourite quote is, “Never confuse movement with progress. Because you can run in one place and not get anywhere.” (Denzel Washington) For Renata, it is important that people understand there’s a difference with doing a lot and with a lot being done.

She hopes that her work can someday take her places beyond Guyana where she can shine light on taboo topics and stay true to the message she puts out there.

Renata is attached to the Jazz and Poetry on a Stool group that is scouting for people with talent, be it music or poetry or even writing and recruiting them. The group also networks a lot and finds people hosting events who are looking for people to perform at their events.

The Sagittarius beauty is also a second year University of Guyana student pursuing a degree in Communications.

In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, volunteering, spending time with her nephew and watching Law and Order Special Victims Unit on TV.

However, on the pet-peeves side, she dislikes injustice, bad Chinese food, chocolate ice-cream, seeing her mom upset and the Golden State Warriors (for her own personal reasons).

Of the average 20 poems she has written so far, her most recent poem “My Mask and I” she says is her best. A video of her performing the piece was posted to Facebook and became a hit right away. “My Mask and I” has seen almost 300 shares with more than 9,000 views. To view “My Mask and I” persons can check out her Facebook page.

Renata is also down at OMG every last Wednesday of the month for poetry night.

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