Dover poet’s workshop lets kids express themselves

Amillion Mayfield, of Dover, aka Amillion the Poet, leads the Poetry in Motion Workshop at the Dover Public Library. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

Amillion Mayfield, of Dover, aka Amillion the Poet, leads the Poetry in Motion Workshop at the Dover Public Library. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

DOVER — Amillion Mayfield had just opened the floor for questions. “You’re a big star. What are you doing here in Delaware?,” one young man asks. It was the second week of his Poetry in Motion summer workshop series held in the teen loft at the Dover Public Library.

Mr. Mayfield, aka Amillion the Poet, didn’t miss a beat.

“I love this state and I have a big state of mind. A lot of people with big states of mind come from small places. I came back to help others,” he said.

Then it was his turn to ask a question.

“What do you think true success is?”

He seemed pleasantly surprised at their answers.

Mr. Mayfield watches from the background as Richey Matthews, 15,  of Dover, reads through his poem about words during the Poetry in Motion workshop camp at the Dover Public Library. Designed to encourage young talent of all kinds, the free workshop for teens is held from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. in the Teen Loft each Thursday through Aug.11.

Mr. Mayfield watches from the background as Richey Matthews, 15, of Dover, reads through his poem about words during the Poetry in Motion workshop camp at the Dover Public Library. Designed to encourage young talent of all kinds, the free workshop for teens is held from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. in the Teen Loft each Thursday through Aug.11.

No one said “Having a lot of money.” Some mentioned being true to yourself and becoming the best you can be. He commended them and added his voice to the mix. “True success,” he said, “is measured by how many people you bless.”

About a dozen would be blessed at this workshop Wednesday night although it will usually run Thursday nights until Aug. 11 from 5 to 6:30.

But the talent they possess, that Mr. Mayfield would call out of them over the next 90 minutes, would likely go on to bless others, perhaps, as one young poet put it, “one million years.”

“Holding it in causes us to explode,” he explained. “All that built-up aggression is what causes problems.” He hopes workshops like this one will help stop that.

Some of the young people in the room had been to Poetry in Motion in previous years. What takes place during the workshop is nothing short of transformative.

Mr. Mayfield, a hip-hop artist, poet and author who has performed internationally, just came back from a performance at this year’s Essence Festival in New Orleans

This was the third season at Mr. Mayfield’s workshop for Jason Adams, 17, of Dover, who recited his work from the heart, his voice becoming intense and expressive, then reverting to the dramatic pulse in which he began, as if expressing different personalities.

“Three years ago, he came in and sat with his head down,” Mr. Mayfield said of Jason. “Now look at him. He fully embraces his personalities.”

The group was energized with comments such as “It felt right to me…got our attention…made us feel it…do you read a lot? Cause your vocabulary is amazing!”

Mr. Mayfield calls himself the most introverted extrovert you’ll ever meet, but tells the teens at his Poetry in Motion workshop at the Dover Public Library. “As much as you give is what you are going to receive.”

Mr. Mayfield calls himself the most introverted extrovert you’ll ever meet, but tells the teens at his Poetry in Motion workshop at the Dover Public Library. “As much as you give is what you are going to receive.”

They are expected to give a positive critique to each performer. Some saw deeply into the works and responded with “old soul” wisdom, while others seemed inspired by the emotion, but they were all inspired.

“It’s important to know how people relate to your work,” said Mr. Mayfield.

“So we let them know right away. The goal in each successive week of the workshop is to be better than you were last week.

In between the four or five performances, Mr. Mayfield tells a little of his own story.

“The workshops actually began in prison,” he said. A friend of his was in jail and he began writing letters to encourage him. His friend passed the letters on to other inmates. Eventually he had a following and the letters were compiled into book.

He now conducts Poetry in Motion workshops in juvenile facilities and in prisons as well as in his hometown library.

But it wasn’t what he thought he was going to be doing in life. The former all-state Caesar Rodney basketball player, who attended University of Pittsburgh on a basketball scholarship, was about to jump “the pond” for a run at international basketball, when he discovered something far more important to him: being a father.

Now 9 years old, his daughter Aaliyah appears in his music video “Beauty Full,” has co-authored a children’s book about surviving in a separated household, and is a standout performer on the gymnastic floor as well as in academics. She also attended Wednesday night’s workshop and had a critique of her own for the original composition called “Ain’t No Stoppin” by Letta Baby (Eletta Manley, 15, of Dover).

“I like the beat,” she says.

Mr. Mayfield wants to make sure she — and everyone else — knows, “Family Matters and Youth’s Lives Matter.” But it’s a two-way street. “These youth inspire me to go even farther than my dreams to show that you can be from a small state and succeed anywhere with a big state of mind.”

The week’s workshop ended, but the work goes on.

Mr. Mayfield headed to the West Coast to shoot a music video the following morning and will stay in touch with the students on Facebook:

“Today’s workshop was great,” he writes a few hours later. “So many different faces … races with a world of talent. Wish the world could come together like this in 1 accord. Thank you all. You are One In A Million.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dee Marvin-Emeigh is a Milford-area freelance writer.

Andrá Charles, left, and Eletta Manely, both 15 and from Dover, obviously enjoy the Poetry in Motion workshop at the Dover Public Library, where they have chance to develop their creative voices as singers, writers, artists, or other ways, and receive critiques from their peers as well as from Mr. Mayfield..

Andrá Charles, left, and Eletta Manely, both 15 and from Dover, obviously enjoy the Poetry in Motion workshop at the Dover Public Library, where they have chance to develop their creative voices as singers, writers, artists, or other ways, and receive critiques from their peers as well as from Mr. Mayfield..

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