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Meet Briana Wucinski of Renegade Voices Collective in Fort Worth

Today we’d like to introduce you to Briana Wucinski.

Briana, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My story starts when I stumbled upon the spoken word and slam poetry by accident. I was working as a graphic designer as a college grad from TCU and wanted something to supplement my music throughout the day. When I first started listening to poetry, rather than read it as I always had previously, my creative being lit up. As a former actress with a fondness for the stage, I devoured poetry with ferocious jealousy, as I kept thinking to myself, “I wish I could do that!”. It turns out – all it takes is the desire to make a dream happen.

So I started writing and practicing, got in touch with the local poetry scene around DFW, and began performing. I loved being in a community atmosphere where truth and words came together to translate both the beauty and the beat down of life. I admired being surrounded by people who wanted to express themselves and challenged me to step up my level of performance. As an artist, finding my voice was critical, especially within different contexts and cultures. My experiences in life brought me to a place where redemption became a central idea throughout my poems. The power to bounce back, to rise and try again, plays a key role in my writing and in my overall outlook on life.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
In 2015, burnt out and bogged down, I put poetry on hold as I quit my job as a graphic designer to travel across Central and South America for a year. This experience is one that forever changed me – as cliché as that sounds – as I was diagnosed with late onset Type 1 Diabetes at 24. My health had deteriorated the last three months of my journey drastically, and by the time I was admitted to the ER in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I was lucky to be alive with sky-high blood sugar.

Returning and learning how to readjust to daily life with an autoimmune disease was a struggle. Despite there being ‘ease’ in the word ‘disease’, there was nothing easy about it. Writing became more foreign than the countries I had just visited, and I lost that voice I had thought I’d known so well. It was in these dire moments where my positive outlook on the situation began to take center stage, and with it, a renewed reclaiming of my writing.

Renegade Voices Collective – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
When I first got involved with Renegade Voices Collective, I was amazed at the vulnerability and authenticity of the poets and artists who stepped up to the mic. Within that supportive community, I felt comfortable to start exploring more personal themes and became more at home with sharing my story onstage. First, I started to get involved as a host for the monthly open mics but realized the opportunity to build up the writing community here in Fort Worth.

I started a monthly Writers Circle for poets to come together, off-stage and off-the-mic, to connect by discussing challenges and obstacles we sometimes face as artists. Topics we discuss range anywhere from what our legacy is as writers to how we can set new goals for our writing by trying out new themes or cadence in our work. This leads to a foundation of trust within the group that supports one another as we share work-in-progress or unfinished pieces for feedback and critique.

My love of writing continues to grow, and I’m inspired every day by the courage of our artist community. I started to help host and coordinate Backyard Story Night in Dallas, a storytelling event where people can share their stories of hope, heartbreak, and humanity. Each month I relish with delight hearing vignettes into the lives of my neighbors and find a piece of myself in almost every person’s story. I’m looking to grow storytelling to Fort Worth because I know Funktytown has some of the best-kept secrets this side of the Mississippi.

My goal in life is to let people know we can ALL be writers, that we all have a poetic story to share with the world. These communities help us to shape how we see one another, how we treat one another and ultimately give us a better understanding of how we see and treat ourselves. As any writer knows – this is not the end, but only the beginning of my story.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Can I go back to the question regarding struggle? Because I’m slowly but surely learning to take pride in my efforts. The moments when I feel pride swelling up in my chest come from watching others imbued with bravery as they learn to build themselves up. The most recent example was encouraging one of our writers to step out of their comfort zone and try out a new mic. In a new setting, with an unfamiliar crowd – this can feel nerve-racking and anxiety-ridden for a poet. When they stepped up – both literally and metaphorically – it felt like breaking new ground for both of us. In a world where we are seemingly chomping at the bit to tear one another apart, I feel like a true renegade rooting for the other, rather than myself.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Briana Lao Photography
SWNG Productions

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