Ekere Tallie, poet, educator, speaker and poetry editor of “African Voices,” graced Texas Wesleyan’s Martin Hall. On March 25,as keynote presenter at the 33rd annual Goostree Symposium, Tallie discussed “Success is…success ain’t: redefining what it means to make it.”

On being an artist

Tallie described her work as an exploration of silence, sexism, racism and herbalism. But, it is not at all what some people think of when they think about having a job. “In fact, it’s not even a job,” said Tallie. “I see it as a calling and my life’s work. I write about all sorts of things: pretty much anything that is important to me. If I learn something, and I think it’s useful to you, I have to find some way to pass it on.” The author of the poetry collection “Karma’s Footsteps” has shared her voice through poetry, fiction and nonfiction writing at events and universities across Europe and North America.  She also writes to those whom she refers to as “Continuum” through her blogs: “The Sage Honey: Writing about my journey into the world of plant medicine” and “The Sage Mama: A spirited place for all things Mama.”

“And Continuum writes [and rights] me,” Tallie said. “You should know that.”

“To: Continuum” is a novella – a series of letters scheduled for release in September – where Tallie writes to young writers and artists. In the series, she shares her ideas on social justice, experience in the craft of writing and being a writer – an artist.

“Being an artist means your heart will break and break and break again,” Tallie said, “and it’s your job to mend it.

“When you create art, you have medicine in your hands.”

On critical thinking

Tallie shared a single thought that has since influenced her life as a mother, writer, herbalist and educator. “The thought went like this: ‘most of the ideas that are floating around in my head are not mine.’ I want you to sit with that.” Consequently, she affirmed a major element of the Wesleyan culture – critical thinking.

“Once you start thinking critically, you will never stop,” Tallie said. “The problem is that once you start thinking critically…you will never be comfortable again.”

Tallie suggested that thinking critically enables one to check their surroundings and celebrate the beauties there-in. Likewise, critical thinking permits one to find injustices and take actions in personal and global resolutions.

“Consider the fact that we all are coming from a tradition of people who fought authority and made sacrifices to do what they thought was right.”

…Which leads to success

“My success…would have to do with creating community, teaching, mentoring, and contributing to the legacy of the writers, the activist and the cultural workers who came before me,” Tallie said.

Throughout her speech, Tallie challenged the attendees to think critically, and in doing so, to check their ideas of success. She explained that it was only through thinking critically that she discovered her own definition of success.

“Everyone has something to give and a responsibility to develop it and share it with others.” said Faye E. Goostree.