When it comes to her poetry, Tina Sylvester ’05 doesn’t wait for the muse whisper inspiration: her pen is for hire. Sylvester is an award-winning performance poet and her business, Tina B. Poetry, specializes in weddings, memorial services, and corporate events. She recently performed an original piece at the Aggie 100 luncheon hosted by Mays’ Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship.

What is performance poetry? Simply put, it’s poetry composed to be spoken in front of an audience. The performance aspect includes dramatic vocal and physical interpretation and can be enhanced with music, dancers, props, costumes and sets. It’s related to rap and hip-hop music and is regaining popularity mostly among African American audiences, where it started in the 60s and 70s.

Sylvester’s road to a career as a professional poet has been unconventional. She earned a bachelor’s degree in construction science at A&M in 2005 and went to work as a project manager for Linbeck L.P. While she enjoyed the work, she began struggling with some personal issues about the same time. A friend took her to a poetry slam (a competitive event for performance poets), which inspired her to purge some emotion through words. She won the first slam she participated in, and soon she was being recognized in poetry circles as an up-and-coming artist.

Mays marketing grad student Tina Sylvester '05 started a career in construction management, but discovered a different calling after a few years.
Mays marketing grad student Tina Sylvester ’05 started a career in construction management, but discovered a different calling after a few years.

In 2007 she officially created her business while continuing to work in construction management. She says she didn’t intend to pursue it professionally, but it was something she couldn’t get away from as word spread about her skills. “It started as an accident,” she says. “Now it’s bigger than me.”

In addition to the performance part of the business, Tina B. Poetry also sells custom created art called Poetic Paintings®. Customers can submit a picture to be turned into an artistic rendering, featuring Sylvester’s tailor-made poetry. She’s also working on a book and a CD.

Can you really make a living as a poet? Sylvester says yes. In fact, the top performers in the craft are paid very well for their talent. She’s currently a full-time student in the MS in marketing program at Mays, operating Tina B. Poetry on the side. Already, she has more business than she can handle alone. After she completes her degree in 2010, she intends to work in the entertainment business (dream company: Harpo Productions), where she can learn the business and make connections that will help make Tina B. Poetry a greater success.

Deeper than her passion for performance or her desire to succeed in an entrepreneurial venture, Sylvester says she wants her poetry to touch others. “I write not only for myself for creative expression, but I write to give hope and inspiration, and positive motivation to other people,” she says.

More information

Find out more about Sylvester’s business, including clips of her performing at tinabpoetry.com.