Sheltered in the Wings of Heaven


root - Posted on 11 May 2003

The Scholarship of Ms. A. Faye Hicks, Po Poet Laureate

by Tiny/Po’ Poet and Co-editor of POOR Magazine

"Children don’t listen to their parents no-how, but to read my story, to read about my resistance to poverty, through the Word – that’s when my son started resistin’ , started healin’ started listenin to me, his mama’" Rising from half-eaten crackers, a pile of steaming bagels, and a mist of coffee steam was the light emanating from Ms. A. Faye Hicks, Po Poet Laureate of POOR Magazine. The mini-mess hall at POOR headquarters with its harsh florescence could hardly contain the spirit, the power and the glory that was A. Faye. As she spoke, illustrating each consanant with a pinch of southern salt, she used several long limbs of her tall, slim body to underline the crucial points.

Ms. Alice Faye Hicks, an aspiring dress designer, was sporting black skin tight knickers, white tights and low platforms in the current vaguely 17th century send-ups that are all the rage on the runways of Paris and in the streets of Beverly Hills. But A. Faye did not waste her time in such elitist spaces, her fashion ensembles grace the hallways of one of the largest shelters in San Francisco. Ms. A. Faye is currently houseless.

My name is A Faye

I am a Lady of the Shelters.

I am a student and teacher of Life

In Indoor shelter living and Outdoor cardboard shelter living

I have met Hundreds of People

Most with Tragic Stories.

Jailhouse, Sickness..........Mental and Physical

I am all alone

Yet not alone!

Sheltered in the Wings of Heaven!!!!

(from A. fayes "slam bio" a tradition of The Po Poets Project)

"My son was in jail, not doing well, then he read some of my poetry that I wrote in the Po Poets, that’s when he started changing his life, studying for his GED, getting a good job across the Bay, you know healin, cause I think that’s when he started to understand my life – he said, ‘mama you the strongest woman I ever met’, now that’s the power of The Word, that’s the power of resistance"

As I listened to A. Faye recall her son’s catharsis, who grew up with Faye, "in a Section 8 apartment in the only Oakland neighborhood that would rent to us that felt like death row thanks to all the harassment by police of the youth", I was reminded of my own life with my mother, our poverty together and my ability to work through my issues with our life through my own writing. As a formerly houseless, currently at-risk poverty survivor, the first time I was able to write my story and have someone read it – have someone "see" me as something other than a bum, lazy, stupid or "useless" was the first time I felt alive, like there was a reason to go on living….

I asked A. Faye how she first got into the Raising Our Voices (ROV) Program of Media Alliance, which then led to her membership in The Po Poets Project of POOR Magazine,
"I saw a flyer on the wall at St Anthony’s Dining Room while I was eating lunch, and of course I had already met up with Ben (Ben Clarke and myself co-teach creative writing through the ROV Program) when he taught a workshop at Tenderloin reflection Center, so I had some idea of what that poetry writing would be like, but you know, I never did like poetry in high school – poetry was all about flowers, hearts and shakespeare, those things didn’t speak to me…

"How did you feel when POOR nominated you to be the first Po Poet Laureate"

"Well you know I didn’t even know what that word meant til I was nominated so getting that title opened my eyes to a whole new world – I started reading about other writers like Amiri Baraka and Quincey troupe and their experiences with poetry and society…"
I smiled cause POOR launched the Po’ Poet laureate project to seize that lofty literary canon and bestow it on the folk who we consider poverty scholars, and in my mind there was no larger, more deserving poverty scholar than A. Faye

I asked A. Faye about her other dreams, "What about this rumour of you being interested in being a chef "

" Yea I pursued that, " she spit out each word of this curt reply and then after a long pause continued, "but the food industry in San Francisco doesn’t hire older Black women to be Chefs- so I said the hell with you…..but all I wanted to do is something for people and now instead of feeding their stomachs I am feeding their minds…..

"I have always faced obstacles to my dreams – whether it was a dress designer or a chef – writing and publishing my book of poetry is the first dream I have had that came true… a dream that is possible … we should all have our dreams realized… knowing that people read my work ..knowing that I affect people with my words…. Gave me a purpose to being alive…."

The POOR Nation – selected works by A. Faye Hicks published by POOR Press will be on sale at the POOR Press Book Release party and Benefit on Sunday, Febuary 23rd @ 6:00pm at 255 9th street in SF (bet Folsom and Howard) at the ILWU union hall. As well you can access her recent work as a Po Poet Laureate on topics ranging from Police Brutality of youth of color to Proposition N on www.poormagazine.org by clicking on the Po Poets Project Column on the front page- see below for more information on the POOR Press release party!!!

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