SPILLING TEA FROM THE SOUL:
A CONVERSATION WITH SHAE JOHNSON
24-year-old writer, Shae Johnson has conjured up the power and strength from within to write her first poetry book, Soul Tea. In this Soaring Profile Interview, the Detroit-based Writer/Creator delves on what gave her the courage to put out Soul Tea, what her ideal day looks like, advises young writers/creatives to love themselves through their process, and names Brea Janea and Demetrius Harmon as Detroit creatives that she'd like to collaborate with.
WRITTEN BY: ALLY BAIRD
FOUNDER/EDITOR IN CHIEF
I'M STARTING TO SEE
THAT I AM NOT 'TOO MUCH'
I DON'T LOVE 'TOO HARD'
AND I DON'T 'GIVE TOO MUCH'
PHOTOS BY: ADONNICA GENON
WHO IS SHAE JOHNSON?
When I find out I will tell you. I’m still trying to figure this out right now. I thought I knew but then life came around and said sike you thought.. I will say what pushed me to try to figure it out, was losing my grandfather. My birthday is November 11th and my grandfather passed away on November 10th, I celebrated my birthday to celebrate him. However, right after the celebration, I was kind of just sitting there for like 2 months not knowing what life was. I didn’t know what my purpose was. What I was supposed to do. I was confused because I didn’t understand how I could celebrate life and death at the same time. My whole life has been about making my grandparents proud and then I didn’t know what it was because there was a sudden shift. But there was a voice telling me to write it out. The more I write, the more I discover myself.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE MOST KNOWN FOR?
I want to be known for my writing but I’m also super into visuals. I love being able to create something and watch it come to life. I can write all day but when I’m able to see it, it’s just something different. I’d love to be known for how I make my writing into visuals. I want people to be able to see what’s in my mind.
WHAT GAVE YOU THE COURAGE TO PUT OUT SOUL TEA? HOW LONG DID YOU WORK ON IT FOR?
I first came up with the title two-and-a-half years ago but dealing with my mental health I needed an escape.
I needed a way to really express myself because I felt like no one around me really understood so I just wrote it out. Putting it into poetic form just made me feel like I was doing something. It honestly made me feel better about my feelings, I was able to see it in a beautiful way rather than a chaotic way like I normally do. But it was around Christmas of 2018 when I wrote down March 1st as the date of when I would put this book out. March 1st came and that was the day I put it out.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE COMMENTS YOU'VE RECEIVED ABOUT YOUR POETRY BOOK?
So many people have told me I have inspired them to write a book, to start a book. I’ve even inspired my mom to start her own, and she’s been wanting to put it out for like 5 years now. My family tells me how amazing it is, I’ve received comments saying 'I’ve literally been waiting for this I’m so glad you did'. It’s been weird but I’m so happy about it.
PHOTOS BY: ADONNICA GENON
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR INSPIRATIONS?
Number 1 Maya Angelou, the way she did her writing was a way for a little black girl to feel loved and powered, and I appreciate it so much. These next 2 writers are the ones who helped me to understand that I could actually do this. That is Alex Elle, and Reyna Biddy they can do no wrong. They are amazing.
WHAT DO YOU SPEND YOUR TIME DOING WHEN YOU'RE NOT WRITING?
Sleep, I spend a lot of time resting because I really need it. I would literally take five naps a day if you let me.
I love music, it's therapy for me. I enjoy being outside, I love water and just being in nature. It inspires me to write too so that’s what I do in my spare time.
IF YOU CAN DESCRIBE YOUR WRITING IN THREE WORDS, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Soulful, relatable, and inspiring.
WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO OTHER YOUNG WRITERS AND CREATIVES THAT WANT TO DO WHAT YOU’RE DOING?
I would say love yourself through the process. On good days move slow and be intentional on bad days don’t stress about it, just put the pen down and come back to it. Take your time don’t rush it, don’t be so pressed to make announcements, and make sure you’re staying hydrated and eating right.
HOW ARE YOU PRACTICING BEING MORE INTENTIONAL THROUGHOUT THE DAY?
I’m still working on that but just on the way here, I realized that I hadn’t intentionally taken a breath today. So when I was sitting at a red light I did that. Every morning I start the day off with a glass of water.
I try to remember to express gratitude as well.
WHAT DOES YOUR IDEAL DAY LOOK LIKE?
I would wake up at 11:30 am and have a glass of water, I'd meditate for 15-20 minutes outside or with the blinds open so the sun can come in. I'd do some yoga, shower, wash my face, play some music, eat some delicious mangos, kiwis, pineapples, and pears. Then I’d go to the beach, write, take pictures, get a great Chai Tea Latte with almond milk, take a 2-hour nap, eat dinner and have my TV playing Law and Order. Then after all of that,
I would just write for the rest of the night. That would be the perfect day for me right now.
NAME THREE WOMEN OF COLOR YOU FOLLOW ON INSTAGRAM THAT INSPIRES YOU.
Deun Ivory she’s my favorite, everything she does is just great, my mom, and Maryam Hasnaa.
NAME A FEW CREATIVE IN DETROIT THAT YOU WANT TO COLLABORATE WITH.
OMG is so many people but I would love to work with Brea Janae she’s really my friend in my head she’s amazing, oh and Demetrius Harmon I absolutely love him.
WATCHING MY REFLECTION LOOK BACK AT ME
SOFT EDGES AND GOLDEN SKIN
BEAUTY MARKS THAT FALL COMFORTABLY IN ALL OF THE RIGHT PLACES.
SKIN THAT RESEMBLES MARBLES.
MAYBE NOT PERFECT,
BUT A BODY THAT IS WORTH ME LOVING.
IF YOUR HOUSE WERE ON FIRE AND YOU COULD ONLY SAVE A FEW ITEM, WHAT ALL WOULD IT BE?
My laptop, I love that thing. I've had it for like 6 years now. I also have this box filled with pictures, stuff from my senior year of high school, and things from my grandma. That box and my laptop are all I care about.
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED?
Today’s Friday, so it was Tuesday.
DO YOU REMEMBER WHAT YOU CRIED ABOUT?
It was just a rough day I just felt like I sucked and like I was trash so I just sat there and I just cried it out. Then I just stopped and went to work.
WHAT IS SOME ADVICE TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF, SIXTEEN-YEAR-OLD SHAE?
Relax, sit there and release your shoulders home girl .. breathe.
WHAT IS YOUR MOST PROUD ACHIEVEMENT TODAY AFTER ALL YOU’VE BEEN THROUGH?
I make a way out of no way every time. As much as I want to give up sometimes I just can’t because I just have to make something out of nothing. Even in my darkest moments, I think to myself I will have to figure it out.
MODEL: SAVANNAH FLAKNER