Poet Lyrical Tempest, co-host of “Poetry Is…”

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Until five years ago, Alice Saunders never considered hosting a radio show. In fact, the lifelong poetry and fiction writer was just finding her bearings at open mic nights for poets and spoken word artists when then “Poetry Is…” host Wally B asked Alice to co-host. He thought she would be a good fit.

Alice Saunders, a.k.a. Lyrical Tempest, co-host of "Poetry Is".

Alice Saunders, a.k.a. Lyrical Tempest, co-host of “Poetry Is…”

Alice, known professionally as Lyrical Tempest, did not believe she was right for radio. She asked, “Are you sure? Because you know I’m shy.” But, she said, “Wally B always sees what people don’t even see in themselves. You know he has that gift of that vision.” And so Alice joined the show, and Wally B became her mentor.

“I’m an introvert by nature, so doing the radio show has definitely put me outside my comfort zone,” she said, especially while learning to develop her radio on-air personality. “It’s like a labor of love, and it’s enjoyable. It definitely has some hard moments, but it’s all worth it, because if you love it, you’re going to push through.”

These days, Alice has confidence in her voice—she is a gentle speaker with a thoughtful cadence—and she enjoys connecting to people through poetry on WMNF. She appreciated the guidance she received from the other hosts like Wally B and D-Rod. And the online training resources available through the station.

“I look at it like learning a language: use it or lose it,” she said. “As we volunteer and host more, we learn more about what to do and how stuff works.”

Alice is glad for the opportunity to learn the technical side of producing a radio show at WMNF. Even if volunteers “don’t have the skillset, [but] they have the heart,” Lyrical said, “then they are teachable…That goes a long way to developing a person.”

She recognized the value of learning “teamwork” while volunteering as a WMNF co-host. “I love this term,” she said. “Our co-hosts are my teammates.”

Working with her co-hosts can be humbling, but she said the dynamics are healthy for an artist.

“Learning to compromise and communicate with your teammates, especially when they are all different ages and from different walks of life—all that diversity is healthy,” she said. “Sometimes it hurts to be corrected,” she said, adding, “It’s done in love. It’s all for a purpose.”

“Learning to communicate, learning to listen with the intent of understanding, and not just being so quick to respond” is a powerful skill, Alice said.

Finding one’s voice

Alice has been writing poetry and fiction since the first grade, but it was not until she was in her late 20s that she started to share her work publicly. She ventured out to open mic nights to share, listen, and network with other poets in Tampa. She discovered that “we have a really huge, thriving poetry community here that’s constantly growing and evolving, which is amazing.”

After joining “Poetry Is…,” Alice became more comfortable with her voice and discovered the joy of helping other artists find their voices. More broadly, she is grateful for WMNF because it allows everyday people to learn new skills and connect to the broader community.

“I’ll never forget how it felt to perform at an open mic for the first time—the grace that I received when people saw that I was nervous and that I was scared,” Alice said.

Alice and her co-hosts work to support and encourage local artists, not only by playing recordings of their spoken performances, but inviting them to be a guest host on the show. “They are so grateful and so humble for the opportunity,” she said.

The power of poetry for education and transformation

One of Alice’s favorite guests was Atlanta-based poet Queen Sheba. “What struck me about her is she has her hands deep in education and activism from a very healthy perspective,” Alice said. “As my mentor Wally B says, she takes poetry beyond the page and beyond the mic meeting.”

Through poetry, Alice said, “We have more innovative ways to tell a story and more innovative ways to spread education and information, to even save a life or to help with mental health.”

“I like the metaphor [that] when you write, you’re just cutting open the vein, and you’re just bleeding out like an abscess just to get the infection out,” she said. “We begin healing when we allow ourselves to be transparent, and to write with abandon, without holding back.”

Then, she said, “we’re able to really go back and see ourselves in a different light and really evaluate a situation.”

Describing her poetry as faith-based and inspirational, Alice hopes her readers feel peace, hope, and reassurance that they are not alone. “One of the beautiful things that I enjoy about writing,” is to hear and feel how others survive difficulty. To her readers, she says, “Please find strength in that and hold on, because you’re going to make it.”

Alice Saunders founded her own publishing house, TL Publishing Group LLC, in 2010. She has published three books of poetry: “Affirmation of Addiction” (2012), “The Forgotten Lyrics” (2012), and “Before the Epiphany” (2014), and a fourth book is in the works. Learn more at LyricalTempest.com.

“Poetry Is…” airs Sundays, from 8 to 9 p.m. ET. Listen to the most recent show.