ArtSpace - Hagerstown poet shows no fear

July 23, 2006|by JULIE E. GREENE

Fifteen years ago, when Khary H. Tolliver started writing poetry, his poetry journal got in the hands of the wrong friend, who read the musings out loud in a joking manner.

"He was kind of clowning me, and I didn't appreciate that. I stopped letting people read them," says Tolliver, who lives in Hagerstown.

Now 33, Tolliver no longer fears feedback and is sharing his poetry in his first published book, "Poems from Khary's Poem Journal."

Tolliver decided to publish his poetry due to encouragement from his mother, Elizabeth Tolliver of Hagerstown.

Most of his poems are about him or his son, Daimen, 8. Some of the poems are about things everyone goes through. Sometimes he is inspired by conversations he overhears or a friend's experience.


The structure is free verse, and Tolliver describes the poetry as "warm."

"I guess that's how I feel they are. They're not too harsh or anything. ... Not too crazy or too light. Kind of in the middle. They're warm."

Tolliver surprised himself when he got into poetry.

He was attending North Hagerstown High School when a teacher gave the class an assignment to keep a poetry journal.

"Really, I was like, 'Man, I can't write any poetry.' I just thought it wasn't for me. But I was able to do it," says Tolliver, who graduated in 1991.

After that first poem - about Tolliver and his feelings at the time - he didn't stop writing.

Tolliver estimates he's written 725 poems, having filled seven or eight notebooks.

He likes how writing poetry enables him to turn negative energy into positive energy.

"Sometimes I might feel depressed about issues, and I can write a love poem. Or (I'm) feeling happy and write something very sad," he says.

Tolliver, who is a payoff representative at CitiMortgage in Frederick, Md., expects some people he knows will be surprised to discover he's written a book of poetry.

In high school he ran track and was known for being a comedian.

After the time someone made fun of his poetry, it took Tolliver about a year before he shared his creations again.

Some people liked the poems. Others didn't understand them, he says.

Either way, Tolliver says he was ready to handle any criticism because he had matured.

"Poems from Khary's Poem Journal" is available for $14.95 at or at Tolliver's Web site

The ArtSpace features stories about Tri-State-area writers and musicians who have created a published book or a distributed album.

The Herald-Mail Articles