Who Is Elijah Blake?

Growing Up and His Poetry Hustle

“I started out doing poetry. I was in elementary school and I wanted to make money. I was too young to actually get a real job. There was like a little club where they would have poetry contests and I started going there and winning. I’ve always had a knack for English; anything from English literature or anything like that, I was naturally good at it. 

 

My mom would go through my backpack and find poems on the back of the assignments that I didn’t turn in because I wrote [on] them and would rather get a failing grade than turn in my poems.

“I started winning poetry contests and getting money and stuff. One day, my mom went through my backpack. She saw a whole wad of money. It wasn’t that much but she knew that she didn’t give it to me. And I walked into the living room and she was in tears like, ‘Oh no, I tried to keep you away from the hood and now you’re selling drugs!’ She literally thought I was selling drugs. There was nothing I could have told her at that point in time to convince her. I was like, ‘No, I’m doing poetry contests.’ She was like, ‘At least come up with a better lie!’ 

“One day she followed me there and there was a poem actually about her and halfway through the poem, I didn’t even finish and she just jumps up and she’s crying like, ‘That’s my baby and he’s talking about me!’ And she has like a little accent so it was just the funniest thing. She was in tears. If she hadn’t followed me till this day she would have thought I was selling drugs. It was that crazy!

“It kind of got out of control. [My mom] got mad at me because my teachers were calling and saying that I wasn’t doing my homework and she’s like, ‘What are you talking about? I sat there at the table with him and told him to do his homework and watched him do it.’ They were like, ‘Well, he didn’t turn it in.’ She would go through my backpack and find poems on the back of the assignments that I didn’t turn in because I wrote [on] them and would rather get a failing grade than turn in my poems. That’s where it got rebellious. I was such a class clown.”

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