Poet, rapper, hip-hop artist, educator, activist, and community leader are but a few of the titles that define Phoenix resident Myrlin Hepworth, who got his start doing slam poetry on Mill Avenue while simultaneously studying English at Arizona State University. As Hepworth sees it, it was something of a double major.
"While I was doing slam poetry on Mill Avenue -- literally, on the street, the unaccredited school -- I [was] going to ASU and studying formal writing and what makes a compound sentence and why Faulkner and Hemingway are opposite ends of the same movement, and stuff like that," says Hepworth, also a Phonetic Spit co-founder.
His street earnings paid for his education and, formal degree in hand, Hepworth now gives back to the community that nurtured and supported him, visiting dozens of high school classrooms each year. He's started an Alzheimer's poetry project in which he reads classic poems to patients, but his more telling platform is engaging young minds with the concept that the power of language and the strength of poetics can help get their messages across. His organization teaches youth writing and performing in communities all across the Valley.