Poetry is defined as a literary work in which special intensity is given to the expression of feelings and ideas by the use of distinctive style and rhythm. The work of spoken-word poet, Elle Hope, holds its true definition.
Elle is a master of her craft, who elegantly captures the full attention of her audience when expressing the formal elements of her writing. She strips away every layer, unguarded, and unafraid to bare her soul. Her ability to make you feel empowered and awakened with every heart-stirring word, is an absolute gift to poetry.
She is the founder of Spotlight Poetry, a poetic collective with the mission to hold space for poets to develop themselves into professional artists and to inspire others to dive into the art form.
We are thrilled to celebrate Elle Hope as our Creator of the Week. Learn more about her journey and support!
Who is the lovely Elle Hope? Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Elle Hope is a Las Vegas based poet who writes about her culture, her body, and the many trials and tribulations of being a woman. She has been seen performing spoken word and featuring around the Las Vegas area at various venues including, House of Blues, The Space, and Brooklyn Bowl. Hope is a two time Beyond the Neon finalist, featured in the Desert Companion’s “Ones to Watch 2022” magazine release, and 2019 nominated Poet of the Year for The Jam Awards. She has also headlined at multiple Art Festivals including “The Wave In” Festival by Black Mountain Institute and the Utah Arts Festival. Her work has been featured by Nevada Humanities, The Beyond the Neon Anthology, Shout-out LA, the Unpopular Passion Podcast, and many more exhibitions.
Hope is mostly known for her continuous activism to honor her local poetic community. She is the creator and host of the poetry exclusive open mic, Spotlight Poetry. Along with cultivating spaces for poets, Hope can also be found hosting various writing and performance workshops as an official teaching artist partnered with Poetry Promise, Inc. Hope’s most recent publication was her debut self-published anthology “Young, Gifted, & Black: A Poetic Anthology Vol.2” featuring 15 African-American poets from all across the Nation.
Was there a specific moment that encouraged you to pursue the beautiful art of spoken word poetry?
I remember, I was performing my poetry at various open mics with the intention to just express what I was going through during that time. That intention soon changed when other people would come up to me after I would perform at these open mics. They expressed to me how deeply connected they were to my words. How they found themselves within my poems. At that moment, I understood the power of vulnerability and creativity, coming together as one. It allows space for humanity to hold each other, and to see one another through the beauty of art.
Can you talk us through your writing and performing process? Does most of it draw from your own life experiences?
I pull all my inspiration from finding truth in a complex world. My writing process looks like a mountain of post-it notes to probably four journals all kept in different places around my apartment. Very rarely do I sit down to write the poem. More often than not something sparks my imagination or something will inspire me and slowly piece by piece the poem falls into place on the page.
Have you ever had writer’s block and if so, how did you overcome it?
I have learned to not shrink myself when I experience writers block. Sometimes I feel like as writers we begin to think less of our abilities when creativity isn’t coming as organically all the time. However, to keep my creativity flowing and to avoid writers block I was given great advice by a very well-known
National poet named Rudy Francisco. In a brief conversation, he gave the advice that even when it feels like our world has a million tasks we have to accomplish it’s important that we still make time to be with our poetry. And for someone like me, who is constantly juggling multiple things at a time, it can be challenging to hold space for myself. I would tell individuals who are struggling with this to give themselves 15 minutes a day to work on creating something. Whether it’s writing in your journal, shooting a quick impromptu photoshoot on your phone, or practicing an instrument. That 1% you accomplished today may not feel like much, but if you stick with it for 30 days you are now 30% better or closer to your goal than you were 30 days ago.
Spotlight Poetry is incredible! Tell us about your mission and goals for the poetic collective and how folks can get involved.
Spotlight Poetry has been one of the biggest blessings, not only in my career, but in my life. The memories and friendships I’ve made are enough to last a lifetime! I am beyond grateful for all the support that is given to what started just simply as an open mic, but has now become a whole movement and collective. I have many dreams for Spotlight Poetry. Of course, the main mission is to continue to provide a helpful poetic platform for both new and veteran poets to excel in the world of poetry. I am super grateful that my team continues to grow and our reach touches all corners of the city. When you come to a Spotlight event you will see that our crowds are so diverse and beautiful, it is a true reflection of Las Vegas people. I think the biggest dream I have for Spotlight Poetry is to eventually develop a publishing house and to help poets who come from backgrounds where educational and professional career development opportunities aren’t always provided. I want to help minorities insert themselves in the publishing world. We have already begun that movement with the Young, Gifted, & Black: A Poetic Anthology series.I am thrilled that the first one we launched last year was such a huge success and that we were able to create a second one for this year! It’s a joy to hold space for talented writers and help launch their poems for more individuals to discover their stories.
Young, Gifted, & Black: A Poetic Anthology Vol. 2 is now available for purchase!
You do so much to elevate other poets and performers. How do you see the role of your own art within our community?
I like to believe that my art inspires others to believe in themselves. I hope that when people see me perform, they can see that if this girl who came from a small town in Arizona and knew absolutely no one when she moved to Las Vegas can thrive in what she loves to do, then they can do it too! Even when people cannot see the fire within themselves, I try to show them their light by encouraging them to keep going and teach them that they can do anything they put their mind to.
Tell us about your upcoming events and projects, and how our community can support you!
So many exciting things are coming! Starting in March we are ringing in our 2023 slam season with our second annual Phenomenal Womxn Slam for international women’s month! The Spotlight Poetry Slam Team will be traveling to Seattle for AWP and competing in this year’s Womem of the World Poetry Slam in Baltimore. If you would like to help support Spotlight Poetry, attend some of our future fundraisers! All those proceeds go towards helping send poets across the nation to grow their poetry careers professionally and to represent Las Vegas in Slam Poetry competitions.
Personally, I am super excited to start rolling out new poetry singles. My first poetry single of the year is titled “Eat” and is dropping February 26th! It’s rooted in a strong message of what it means to step into the discovery of loving your body and releasing negative projections that have made you believe that you aren’t good enough.
You can support me by signing up for the pre-save link and giving the single a listen when it drops. And if you feel called to – share it with someone who also needs the reminder/message.
What’s your interpretation of a Raw Femme?
I think a Raw Femme is someone who doesn’t wait for the opportunity to arrive. They don’t hesitate to open the door themselves. In some cases they will build the damn door themselves without waiting for permission. They believe that if they can dream it, then they can be! Have faith in your gifts and live
in your power to abundantly create.