BY KAILA HEARD
SPECIAL TO THE NNPA
When Iona Gunn of Miami describes what she does when she steps up to a microphone to recite her poetry while music plays in the background, she typically says, “It’s poetry with an attitude.”
But in many other circles, Gunn’s artistry is described as Christian rap. However, the word can still conjure up negative images among some people, particularly for those from an older generation.
The 49-year-old poet, wife and mother of three can understand some elders’ reluctance to embrace the hip-hop genre.
“At first, I didn’t like it either because I couldn’t understand what people were saying, so [rap] was closed off to me,” she recalled. “So my brother began to coach me and he said, rap ain’t nothing but with poetry with an attitude.”
She has gained popularity with her poetry and one in particular titled “The Hell That I Live With.’’
‘Poems with an attitude’
It was not until last year at the request of her nephew that Gunn recited her own poetry to a beat.
“I just tried it,” she said. Her nephew and his friends loved it so she began reciting her “poems with an attitude” at different venues, including a youth congress hosted by the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Orlando last year.
“They just went crazy and someone compared me to Nicki Minaj,” she said with a laugh. “ I did not know what that was supposed to mean, but to the youth it meant something great so I realized that they really liked it.”
And although Gunn has loved to write for several decades, she makes sure to acknowledge that her creativity is a gift from a higher power.
“I don’t sit down and make up anything,” she explained. “The poems come when the Holy Spirit feels like filling my mouth or my mind with the words.”
Topics focus on faith, abuse, drugs
Gunn began writing poetry in the early 1990s. One of her first, and now one of her most popular poems, reflects on the life and impact of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Beyond famous figures, her poems cover a vast array of topics including faith, abuse, relationships and, in particular, drugs.
“I want to reach those in the community that are struggling with drugs to let them know they … can have a better life without it,” said Gunn, who used drugs herself as a teen.
To help her poetry reach a broader audience, Gunn has begun to perform at more venues and posting on YouTube while also selling copies of her poetry and her own poetry CD, “The Hell That I Live With.”
For more information, contact Gunn at ioniaGunn@yahoo.com. This story is special to the NNPA from The Miami Times.