ART: Edmond Poet Rediscovers Love of Words

Written by Heide Brandes in the February 2013 Issue

Candace Liger

Candace Liger nearly gave up on poetry.

Although the cadence and rhythm of words has danced through her blood for most of her life, Liger’s affair with poetry has all the signs of a rocky relationship. Poetry has brought her joy, has comforted her in times of need, has disappointed and angered her and, at one point, it betrayed her.

But now, the Edmond college student and mother of two is redefining her journey in the world of poetry. Enrolled at the University of Central Oklahoma, Liger is ready to leave the wild world of Slam Poetry behind to return to a writing style that’s more in tune with her soul—with what her father would have wanted. “I put my writing on hold,” said the former Worldpulp Slam Champion. “I wasn’t being true to myself.”

Candace Liger was born and raised Delta-Greenville, Mississippi, and watched as her father created poetry. He wrote into wooden slats, shellacked them and sold those words from the back of a truck. As she grew, she would contribute to his art, writing pieces of poetry herself. “When I turned about 12 or 13, my dad got sick. He had a form of muscular dystrophy, and I just stopped writing,” Liger said. “I stopped writing for years.”

Liger moved to Oklahoma City in 2008 at the urging of her mother. In 2010, she was invited to an open mic poetry night at the Worldpulp at Queen of Sheba restaurant. “I wrote a poem mainly to vent, but while reading it, all this emotion came out. I was crying, and then I was crying because I was crying,” said Liger. “My dad passed away in 2008, and I had tried and tried to write a poem for him. I couldn’t do it. No words came. So I wrote a poem to my son’s father. There was a lot going on during that time.”

Although she had never read her poetry in public, she won the event. In turn, it meant being part of the National Poetry Slam in Missouri that year. “We were terrible,” she said. She went on to compete and win several championships in the Slam Poetry world, gracing the stage with world renowned poets Taalam Acey, Mannie Hager, King Kosher, HBO Def Poet Big Poppa E, and many others. She was a member of the 2010 National Wordpulp Slam Team and was the 2010 Wordpulp Slam Champion for Queen of Sheba in Oklahoma City.

But the world of Slam Poetry turned dark for Liger. She found herself drawn deeper and deeper into the politics of the Slam world, and it became about winning instead of writing. She destroyed other contestants with her poems. “I lost me in the Slam world. The passion is controlling— you have to sound a certain way, act a certain way and move a certain way. It’s political and about entertainment,” she said. “I lost myself. It became about the score, about bombing people with poetry.”

And she lost the thrill of writing. Instead, Liger turned to fitness. A certified personal trainer, Liger’s passion became about training, Zumba and boxing. She threw herself into the world of movement and sweat—until she discovered she was pregnant with her daughter. “I have a wonderful fiancé’ who is also a poet. After the birth of my daughter, it became so different,” she said. “The only thing I could think of is that I’m happy. It’s hard to write when you are happy.”

Then a call came from out of the blue in December, inviting Liger to participate in Tulsa’s Poetry Jam. As one of seven featured poets, it was the push she needed to rediscover her passion for words.

“It’s time to start writing again.”

To learn more about Candace, find her on Facebook/Candace Liger Poetry.

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