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Russell Magee, 30, sits at the microphone in studio at the Fancy Rhino offices on Market Street. Magee goes by the name, Genisis the Greykid, when he performs his poetry.

Being a poet can be a gift and a curse at times.

As you grow within the craft, you become so in tune with what's around you, living life could easily become observing it. You may find yourself watching from the sidelines while pouring portions of your soul into a cup — in small amounts, not too strong — quenching the thirst for depth, the weightlessness of beauty, a tonic you look forward to sharing with yourself.

It wasn't until I started sharing these observations with others, these thoughts and fears that perform a poetic waltz of sorts in my head, that I realized the heart-shaping effect of something we all tend to take for granted at some point or another.


What does that even mean?

How can risk become heart-shaping in a good way? Well, when we speak of risk, it's not the chaotic, unplanned, spontaneous bag floating from one place to another without any type of foundation.

Look at this type of risk as a well-thought-out, calculated action that can actually reverse the process of "getting old." Risk is one of those things that can separate a 9-to-5 hardworking citizen that hates his job and a hardworking entrepreneur that loves what he's building, even if this person is making two to three times less than the guy working the 9 to 5.

It's what separates the poet watching life and keeping his prayer-like poems locked away in an attic and the poet that shares his soul with the world, eventually growing a tribe that is drawn by the magical quality aside from talent alone. That quality, that magical thing, is risk, being vulnerable enough to bare it all.

I still remember something a basketball coach told all of us a few weeks before graduating high school: "Remember kids, you can't slide home with your foot still on third base."

At the time, this little ball of light he tried to throw at us went over many heads. I know it did mine. But I still liked the imagery of what he was saying, so it really stuck with me. It wasn't until I dropped out of college years later that I fully realize what he was saying. It was risk. Taking a chance. Going for it.

Sometimes the risk can be not going for something, which is healthy in its own way. But in either case, the magic behind many things in our lives will come from taking some type of risk.

A homeless guy in Virginia Beach, Va., collected cigarettes and placed them inside of an old Altoid box. He and I would meet randomly through the month, sharing stories, ideas and our own philosophies of the world. He told me a story about a young girl and her teacher. It went a little something like this:

A young girl went to her teacher and asked, "Hello Mr. Scott, since we finished class early today, would you like to color with me?"

The teacher replied, "I'm sorry Lisa, I'm too old to color."

The young girl, before she drifted back into her world of crayons, said, "I don't think you stopped coloring because you got old. I think you got old because you stopped coloring."

So let's color outside of the lines. Let's take more chances. After all, they say risk is what keeps us young.

Here's the Words In Grey exercise for the month:

The Words In Grey exercises are designed to get you exploring. The idea is to place yourself into a context you may not often find yourself in. Then forming some ideas and language around those through poetry, within a limited amount of time.

It doesn't matter whether you're a writer or not, it's more about tapping into that "hidden wholeness" - it's more about exploring. Through this process, we discover parts of ourselves and ultimately become more acute to the human experience.

Write down everything you love doing in life. It can be anything. Just make a least of your favorite things to do. Below that, write all the things you're afraid of doing.

Look for where these things intersect and circle them; for example, if one of your loves is playing music but one of your fears is performing music on a stage, that would be something to circle.

Now write a poem. The theme will be you, taking some type of risk to overcome whatever fear is hurting your love. Whatever you have circled on the paper, this will serve as your theme. Time yourself, maybe 5 to 10 minutes. Let it flow, don't think about it too much, just let it pour from your heart.

Genesis the Greykid was born in Chattanooga, raised in many different cities (military brat), but currently splits his time between New York, the Washington, D.C., area and Tennessee. He's a full-time creative who's been writing poetry and music for a living since 2011 and recently released a book of poetry titled "Words In Grey." Contact him at