The Magnolia Literacy Project
Poetry, Storytelling, and Meaningful Messages
By LaWanda Dickens
Hannah Marie, pictured above, is the author of Name Change: The Journey of Becoming Me.
Natchez, Mississippi poet, Hannah Marie, is a rising voice in the Magnolia State’s literary community. Her pseudonym means: "God's favor in the midst of a sea of bitterness", and it reflects her unwavering following of Jesus Christ. True to her values yet unprejudiced, the poet told Literacy Shapers that her recently published collection of poetry, Name Change: The Journey of Becoming Me, is a response to God’s calling for her to share her story.
She accepted the call.
Name Change chronicles a range of Hannah Marie’s personal life lessons, from despondency to happiness and other emotions in between. The book’s main themes are the power and significance of names, self-awareness, forbidden romance, duality, and wholeness in Christ.
While referencing two poems that represent the book’s depth, she explained, "‘Darkest Moment’, a cry for help, captures a dark phase of my life. I was tired of writing and tired of existing in such a negative space. Even though I never truly wanted to commit suicide, my mind sometimes explored how life would be if I wasn't here. ‘My Honest Poem’ reflects a lighter phase of my life when I became more at peace with my imperfections and realized that God still wanted me to be a voice for him.”
Putting her storytelling skills into action, she appeals to readers through an "intimate, conversational style", which has "always been a core feature of her writing", according to Lana Brown, her mentor and former middle school teacher at Robert Lewis Magnet School in Natchez.
Remembering her middle-school writing experiences, Hannah Marie, told Literacy Shapers, “I would write the events of my life in a journal in story fashion, but I would change all the names to make the events seem fictional. My best friend looked forward to reading it daily”.
She stressed her commitment to telling meaningful stories that incorporate life lessons as building blocks while teaching the importance of prioritization, effective communication, understanding relationships, and self-awareness.
“Storytelling is important to me because I don't believe I go through anything for myself. I want my testimony to encourage someone else to tell their story, and hopefully the cycle continues”, said Hannah Marie, pointing out that Name Change “is for people who acknowledge they are still becoming their authentic self”.
As Brown stated, “She is a naturally gifted, young writer. Even as a middle-schooler, she produced poems displaying characteristics of the griot tradition.”
Hannah Marie’s first publishing opportunity came when the Judge George W. Armstrong Library published one of her submissions after it was selected as the winning piece in a middle school writing competition.
Years later, as a college student, she began to envision herself as a writer with a larger purpose after submitting some of her poems to the blog, Black Magnolias with Voices, under a program sponsored by The Magnolia Literacy Project (MLP), a nonprofit organization that engages Mississippi’s youth in literacy-based opportunities
Describing her writing experience with The MLP, Hannah Marie stated, “The MLP helped me view myself as a real poet. Before they published my work, I thought my poetry was just a hobby for myself, but they showed me that it was bigger than me. They gave me the boost of confidence I needed to create this book. I will forever be grateful.”
A graduate of Alcorn State University’s Vocal Music Education program, Hannah Marie is a private vocal coach with aspirations of building a community youth choir in Mississippi. She is a wife and mother whose philosophy on life is that she, “owes it all to God”.
Name Change: The Journey of Becoming Me can be purchased on Amazon.
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