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Yolanda Latimore

by NICOLE RUPERSBURG for Creative Exchange Powered by Springboard for the Arts Poet and community organizer Y-O left her native Macon, Georgia to attend Georgia College in 1991. It was here that she "officially" became a poet, writing her first poem at the age of 17. From there, it was a fast progression from Georgia College to performing live at the iconic Apollo Theatre in Harlem, where she performed at amateur nights in 1996 and '97 and won twice. During that time she also lived in Atlanta and attended Georgia State University, living the big city life with its endless options for entertainment and cultural enrichment. She thrived as a poet, living in an environment that embraced and encouraged the arts. But in 2000, Y-O, born Yolanda Latimore, lost a younger brother. She returned to her family and her hometown, and has stayed there ever since. "I missed a lot of things that happened in the [Atlanta] metro area," she says. "There were so many pockets of arts and entertainment in Atlanta, in all the city neighborhoods and suburbs. There were so many cultural activities that embraced the arts. I wanted to see that happen in Macon." She founded Poetic Peace Arts in Macon in 2003, a grassroots organization designed to support and promote poets and spoken word artists in Macon. "Most organizations and open mics are for musicians and comedians," Y-O says, noting that those same opportunities were not available to poets and spoken word performers. Poetic Peace Arts started out as

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