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  • Writer's pictureIsaiah Ellsberry

Neighborhood HEROES: Andre Sansbury 'SUAVE THE POET'

"Nipsey once said, ‘We’re not the cause, we’re the effect’ meaning life isn’t defined by the things that we have allowed to happen, but by the things we have allowed to happen to us. The environments we live in, the way the world is shaped, and how our community continues to lack unity all play an important role. So I look at that quote and want to be the cause. I want to be the one who changes the world so people that look like me have something to look up to and understand that we can make a difference,” says Andre.

The world is full of activists who relentlessly serve our community. These heroes often go overlooked and undervalued by the individuals they serve. More so, opportunities that grant us time to sit and talk with these passionate people are important now more than ever. These reasons alone led me to create the "Neighborhood Heroes” platform. A space where individuals in our community receive recognition for the hard work they do. Today, I had the privilege of interviewing Andre Sansbury, also known throughout multiple spaces as, Suave the Poet. Andre has proven to be a beacon of inspiration in our community. He wears many hats - poet, leader, father, mentor, and activist. It is my honor to dive into his intricate journey, by exploring the power of poetry, and its significant effects throughout our local community.

Isaiah: Can you provide a brief introduction of yourself and your role in the community?

Andre: I consider myself one of the most exciting poets of our time and I know a lot of people feel this way; especially the ones who know that I'm not even in my prime yet. While some know me as Andre, I am better known by my stage name "Suave The Poet" and I hit the ground running, publishing my first book at the age of 19. Now at 27, I've been published 21 times, the author of a best-selling poetry novel, and the creator of an international award-winning short poetry film. I've been featured in magazines, newspapers, and on stages all over the United States, even performing in Kuwait City in 2020. In 2023, I was the curator of the first-ever poetry art exhibition in Fayetteville, North Carolina history. Currently, I travel performing, mentoring students through my poetry, and just utilizing my platform to shine a light on mental health. I've always been selfless with my art; turning my passion into purpose and that's what I'm most proud of. I just hope I get to do this for the rest of my life so that I can continue to push positivity in the community and help those who might not have the insight or the words to help themselves.

Isaiah: You mentioned having a strong desire to push positivity throughout the community. Can you describe some of the most significant achievements or initiatives you've been involved in?

Andre: Well since I was 19, I've been implementing a program called "Purpose through Poetry". This program is designed for High School Students and helps them develop their emotional intelligence. Typically, school standards don't go past basic education. However, students need more emotional and social support to grow and survive in their current environment. This program provides students a certain level of comfortability to write and verbalize what they are feeling. The impact of this program provides tools that core subjects can't. I've also been able to build on this platform and create a restorative justice center in Scotland County that allows students to face their emotions head-on, instead of receiving typical punishments implemented by the school systems. I look forward to creating one right here in Cumberland County soon.

Isaiah: I find it amazing that you started doing so much at such a young age. What inspired you to become involved in community leadership, and how long have you pursued this passion?

Andre: I can’t pinpoint when it started, but since I was a kid I never saw anyone that reflected me in my community. Most of my time was spent wishing there would be someone who looked like me, walked like me, and talked like me in the community supporting the youth. I needed that guidance and mentorship as a kid and since I didn't get it, I decided to be the very thing I noticed was missing. I've been doing this since I was 19, using my poetry as a mentorship tool in schools and the community. I'm now 27 and this same passion has opened countless opportunities for me. I know now more than ever what my community needs and I will be that vessel for as long as I can.

Isaiah: I’ve noticed that a lot of people tend to get burnt out from community involvement over time. What motivates you to remain passionate and focused after doing this for over 5 years?

Andre: Knowing that the work I do serves a purpose larger than self. It's easy to get caught up and forget why you do the things that you do, but you have to be resilient and selfless to continue walking in your purpose. Seeing the result of your impact has more value than any amount of money or materials. I also always think back to the life I was living when I didn't have the proper mentorship in place; it drives me to keep going because I know the work I'm doing creates a smaller window of opportunity for the community to develop young adults who are a product of a bad environment. Not just kids, but people need guidance and to see something outside of the typical failures and negativity that may be staring them in the face. By being my authentic self, I believe I provide the community with a sense of hope, especially in minority communities. I just believe all people deserve a life of happiness and peace.

Isaiah: When you’re networking with different businesses and organizations how do you ensure that the voices of underrepresented or marginalized groups within the community are heard in the decision-making process?

Andre: By providing them with the information that they may lack. The work is harder when focusing on the underrepresented, but it's the most purposeful work that you can do. Most groups don't have the resources they need so I make it my mission to be that resource. I have to continue stepping foot into rooms that many are scared to enter. I know a lot of community leaders, politicians, and business owners. So it’s my responsibility to continue developing these relationships and by bringing the issues that affect us to the table. The goal is to create a solidified front between marginalized groups and those who sign off on final decisions that impact our community.

Isaiah: The dedication to fostering inclusivity and driving positive change within the community is truly admirable. Before we conclude, could you share any upcoming projects or events you're excited about?

Andre: Actually there is. I recently started my own platform “Elegant Expressions”. This will be an open mic night of poetry & jazz curated for artists, singers and poets in our community. Our launch date is April 17th located at 715 W. Rowan St. I would love to have the community's support. Not to mention, the event will include live painting, soulful music and an open conversation segment that requires audience engagement.

Isaiah: This event sounds incredible and we wish you nothing but great fortune in the future. Thank you once again, Andre, for sharing your insights and inspiring us with your work.

Find Andre here on Instagram:

Upcoming Event: Elegant Expressions


FAYNC Magazine Staff Writer/Editor

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