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Meet Erika Renee Land

Today we’d like to introduce you to Erika Renee Land.

Born on August 9th, 1983 in Norfolk, Virginia, Erika Renee Land is an American 21st-century war poet, known for her numerous essays, fiction novels, various poetry collections, and being a civil rights activist. As a War Poet, Erika channels her experiences of being deployed to Mosul, Iraq to help with Operation Iraqi Freedom into dynamic poetry that takes the reader on a journey emotionally and physically.

She has published five books. The first was Residual Affects, with fellow veteran KaTisha Smittick that juxtaposes their similar experiences by meshing poetry and photography, and the second book Georgia’s Dam embodies Erika’s struggles with Post-traumatic stress disorder, that takes you to the very spots where she created most of her poetry.

Her fiction series It’s Complicated highlights the struggles of interpersonal relationships, and her latest book of an Artist highlights various mental and emotional states that artists tend to deal with on their creative journeys.

She also has three albums: A Trip to Walmart, L Squared and PTSD and ME.

Her album PTSD and ME is the soundtrack to her theatre play PTSD and ME: A Journey Told Through Poetry. The play is a snapshot of her experience of being deployed to war with the US Army, her consequently being diagnosed with Post-traumatic stress disorder and the journey she has taken to heal herself past the brokenness.

As a civil rights activist, she travels giving the opening speeches at marches for the prison systems and corporations. She is a member of the NAACP and the National Organization for Women.

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?
I wish it had been an easy road but coping with the stresses of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and the common struggles of being an artist has made me rethink my choice of being an artist full time. I tried to quit a few times and transition back into the corporate world, but my heart and spirit stayed with being an artist. So, I have decided to struggle through the hardships no matter what happens. I look at it as a marriage! Being a writer is no longer my mistress, I’ve chosen to stick with it through the good and bad, I don’t want anything else.

Tell us about your work – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I am a writer in general. When I started writing in 2011, I decided that I wanted to be able to write any and every genre, but more importantly, I wanted to be effective with my words, not just write something for the sake of it. Everything I write has a truthful spirit, no matter how metaphorical I make it.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Speaking to an audience in the California prison system and finding out they connected to my work in the way that I intended for them too. And I guess that has always been important to me (having people connect to my work) because often I feel misunderstood, and so to know that I have impacted and guided strangers toward positivity was amazing. Being afforded the opportunity to go into a prison and speak with hem about the work, really touched my heart.

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