Sol-Legacy Magazine

5th Issue

June 2024

Welcome to Sol-Caritas' captivating exploration of the minds of extraordinary individuals. In this exclusive interview, we invite you to delve deep into the thoughts, experiences, and perspectives of Yolan Apoet's Poet, a person whose story is both captivating and inspirational. Join us as we embark on a journey to uncover the intricacies of her life, her passions, and her aspirations. Together, we'll shine a spotlight on her unique insights, accomplishments, and the wisdom he has gathered along his remarkable path. Prepare for an engaging conversation that is sure to leave you inspired, enlightened, and eager to draw from the well of his extraordinary journey.

Introducing the Captain of the Sol-Poetry Ship

Yolan Young aka Yolan Apoet's Poet

Yolan, how did your poetry journey begin?

Ever since I can remember, I have been writing poetry. Seriously, even before I knew I was a poet, poetry has been a part of my life. In kindergarten, during my Reading Rainbow days, I would go to the library and read Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein books. As I got older and continued in school, my English teachers were always fascinated by the stories I wrote in my journals. Whether it was about what I did over the summer or my thoughts on an author, somehow my essays always came out in poetic form.


My journey as a poet was never about being published or performing on stage. It stemmed from my absolute love for the art form and wordplay inspired by legendary poets from around the world that I read at a young age. Even my name, Yolan, stands for artist, warrior, lover, and poet. How amazing is that?


Could you tell us about the key themes or subjects that frequently inspire your poetry?

The key themes and subjects of my poetry have evolved significantly over time. Having written poetry for over 30 years, my style and interests have naturally grown and transformed with the times. What I enjoyed writing about as a youth has developed into what I now consider forever classics or timeless pieces. This evolution is largely influenced by my upbringing and the musical artists and poets I've listened to over the years.


Books I've read or am currently reading also inspire my poetry, guiding my pen and pad in new directions. I am a historian by nature, not only interested in the good and bad my people have experienced but also in celebrating the beautiful and dynamic cultural styles that have always been present. Though my poetry evolves, it consistently carries themes of upliftment, similar to the messages found in Curtis Mayfield's music, and revolution, echoing the powerful words of Gil Scott-Heron, my favorite poet.


My work is smooth and thought-provoking, akin to Nikki Giovanni's style. Growing up during a time when soul music was intertwined with my favorite authors has blessed me with the ability to blend homage to the past with reflections on the present and visions for the future. My gift lies in honoring those who came before us while highlighting current events and anticipating what is yet to come.  

Many poets have unique rituals and routines when they write. Could you share your creative process and any specific habits that enhance your writing?

I don't believe there's anything particularly unique about my writing routine. I write whenever I'm inspired by my spirit. For instance, I love documentaries and history, and sometimes a certain song or instrumental will spark my creativity, and before I know it, I'm holding a pen and pad, ready to write.


Being from San Diego, CA, I often take drives to the beach to meditate. As a water baby by nature, the ocean gives me the peace I need to think. But I'm always writing in my head, constantly forming ideas and thoughts. One thing I've noticed is that the more I read, the easier it becomes to write about whatever comes to mind at the moment. These habits have been part of my writing process for as long as I can remember.



How has your poetry evolved over time, and what role does it play in your life today?

My poetry has always been my first love, a constant presence throughout my life. I've often said in interviews and magazines that poetry saved my life. Growing up, I witnessed many hardships in my community, from gang violence and substance abuse to poverty and injustice. Writing poetry became my escape, a way to process and express my experiences.


I never imagined that poetry would play such a significant role in my life as I grew older. What started as my personal truths written in countless journals has, over the past 20 years, taken me across the nation. I've performed on spoken word stages, participated in stage plays, and even acted in movies. This art form, which began as a private release, has touched many people worldwide.


My first book, "The Unknown Child Named Yolan," wouldn't have come to fruition without the encouragement of so many people who urged me to share my work. What began as an intimate conversation with myself has evolved into an everyday routine that has brought me opportunities and fulfillment beyond my wildest dreams.

Do you have any memorable or particularly meaningful experiences related to your poetry?

Lol, at this stage in my professional poetry career, I've had so many memorable experiences. If I had to pinpoint one of those "Oh my God" moments, it would have to be after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, Texas. Mayor Sylvester Turner asked me to be part of the Emerge Project, which brought together poets from various parts of Houston and different ethnic backgrounds to help uplift our city with the initiative "Houston Strong." It was a great honor to be part of this project, especially as someone who isn't a native of the city. This project will forever be archived in the history of Houston.


Another standout moment was performing at the legendary Jones Hall downtown. This happened when the COVID-19 pandemic was winding down, and we had just endured one of the worst winter storms Houston had experienced in years. The event, titled "The World’s Intermission," was written and directed by Deborah Mouton.


Most recently, I had the opportunity to be in the soon-to-be-released film "A House Without a Father," produced by Sol-Caritas, written by Jala World Productions, and filmed by Irise Flimz. This is another one of those "wow" moments for me.


Each of these experiences, whether they were part of a project, a performance, or a film, had the elements of what I do best: poetry. While I have many memorable moments in my career, these are the ones that truly stand out.

Can you share some of the challenges you've faced during your journey and how you've overcome them?

Honestly, I can't say I've had any significant challenges during my journey as a poet and spoken word artist. Poetry truly did save my life, and I've been blessed with an incredible circle of poetic family that keeps each other lifted. This support has made my journey in this art form an absolute blast.


Having seen exceedingly tough times since childhood, what might be difficult for some doesn't even register on my radar. This journey has been one of the best experiences of my life. I met my wife of over 10 years because of my poetry journey. My daughters are writers and actors because they've seen their dad on this path.


It’s been filled with moments where I can't believe this is my life. This art form has brought me joy, love, and fulfillment beyond my wildest dreams.

Poetry can be a powerful form of social commentary. Have ever used your poetry to address specific social or political issues? If so, could you share your thoughts on the intersection of poetry and activism?

Now that is a great question! Most of my poems deal with social commentary. I'm actually very well-known in the poetry and spoken word community for not being afraid to speak up on social issues, politics, and both past and present events. Here's the reason why: poetry and activism have been intertwined since the beginning of time, when people first started writing words on tablets. Whether addressing injustices, critiquing those in power, or documenting current events, it was often a village, tribe, or traveling storyteller who served as the news source of the time. What we now see as myths, folklore, or tales were once history.


When I write my poetry, I stand on the shoulders of great social and political poets of the past like James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Robert Frost, Edgar Allan Poe, and so many others.


In June of 2015, I had a massive heart attack that should have killed me. I flatlined twice, and I'm currently on the heart transplant list with three heart medical devices in my chest, taking over twenty prescription pills daily to keep my heart working. Before I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, I wasn't just performing poetry on stage; I was in the streets, participating in protests, and on the front lines.


Once I had to take a step back, it was my elders and poetic family who reminded me of my passion for the people. They encouraged me not to forget that, even though I couldn't roar at the top of my lungs like I used to, my words and messages through poetry still held power. Just like I didn't realize I was a poet when I first started writing poetry, the same goes for being an activist. For me, both poetry and activism have always gone hand in hand.


What role do you believe technology and social media play in modern activism, and how do you leverage these tools to your advantage?

a. In an era where technology and social media dominate our lives, the question arises: is this shift beneficial or detrimental? While the accessibility of information and the ability to freely express ourselves through platforms protected by the 1st Amendment are undeniable advantages, the impact of social media on activism and the dissemination of information is a double-edged sword. It's crucial to consider how we engage with these tools and what legacy we leave behind in the digital age. Social media can immortalize our memories and thoughts, but it's up to us to shape how we want to be remembered.

b. I firmly believe that if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything. I aspire to be remembered as someone who fought for justice, love, and human rights—someone who left behind a legacy of positivity and upliftment through my artistry.

c. To combat the negativity and superficiality rampant on social media, I've created Moments of Impact (MOI). These are the moments that inspire me amidst the noise of fake news and trivial trends. Through MOI, I strive to share poetry, positivity, and impactful moments that resonate with me, contributing my sprinkle of modern activism to the digital landscape.

d. As the founder of HERIZONE, I've established a creative platform dedicated to empowering individuals to reach their highest potential every day. HERIZONE merges artistry and advocacy, with a particular focus on empowering women worldwide. More than just a brand, HERIZONE is a movement—a beacon of positivity, sisterhood, and celebration of womanhood, encouraging all to rise and thrive.


Activism often requires collaboration and networking. Can you share some of the partnerships and collaborations you have built in your work, and how they have contributed to your success?

Well, to start with, there would be Dr. Deloyd and the SHAPE Center, NBUF, Urban League, NAACP, Brother Deric Muhammad, founder of the Black Male Summit, Texas City and Galveston County Juneteenth events, the young brothers and sisters at BeImpactful Black Literature Matters, Carlos Wallace and the Lighthouse, and the Effect Program, which helped my older brother create back home in Southeast San Diego. These are just a few. Each of these programs and organizations has always, in some form or fashion, been about the upliftment and advancement of people, especially our youth and the disenfranchised.


It's always easy to talk about change, but it's a great feeling when you're actually working hand in hand, seeing lives being changed for the better. It no longer takes just a village; it takes everyone and some form of commitment. I am just grateful that, because of this gift as a spoken word and poetry artist, I can try to be a part of the solution and help with the problems.

What role do you believe technology and social media play in modern activism, and how do you leverage these tools to your advantage?


Like with any innovative technology, you have to be very mindful about who you’re engaging with. Fact-check everything and do your research. Since social media in the modern day connects you with the world or like-minded individuals, you still must be careful. Not everyone on the other side of that screen has your best interests at heart. This is just the nature of society. If done properly and used in a manner that you control, the advantages of the newest and latest technologies can benefit you immensely.


Social media has been a major component that has given me book shows, various magazine interviews, podcasts, bigger exposure for my book, and, as of late, movie auditions. It also helps to have people in your circle who have experience in navigating new tech and the latest interactive social media sites.

Can you share a success story or a specific moment in your activism that you feel had a significant positive impact on your community?

It was back in 2013 when Project Push Forward invited me to be hands-on with the very first Black Male Summit at Rice University. At times during the summit, I felt overwhelmed, but in an effective way. You often hear people say, "These kids won't listen," "These kids are too far gone," or "These kids don't respect their elders." I always took that personally because, at one time in my life, I was one of those little Black boys. I remember hearing those exact same words said about young boys, including myself, when I was an adolescent. Yet, that day, over six hundred young men from K-12 and a few college students were hanging onto my every word.


It wasn't the first time I had spoken or performed my poetry for kids. By then, I had already been performing at elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as several colleges. But it was the first time I had the honor of encouraging young faces that all looked like mine. Education, survival, and success have always been the mission statement. When you hear the stories or have students come up to you later in life and say thank you, or tell you that your words or your story helped them, that is what it's all about for me.

Do you have any mentors, professors, or individuals who have had a specific impact on your personal growth?

Most of my mentors are no longer with us. Mr. Cooper, who owned the barbershop and pool hall my dad helped run with the other elders, tops the list in importance for teaching me about identity. Mr. Shaheed, whom I honored with a full poem called "1989," taught me the importance of knowing you can accomplish anything you want. Coach Jackson and Mr. Bass both stayed with me, making sure slacking was never an option. Mrs. Jackson, my Algebra teacher, made sure to teach us about everything, including the world into which we were walking. Mrs. Brown was a consistent presence in my life from Fulton Elementary all the way to Crawford High School.


My biggest mentor of all was my father, Theodore Roosevelt Dew Sr. I am the man I am today because of him, even though I gave him hell as a kid. He stood for hard work and no excuses. The crazy thing about all these significant people is that they all knew my father personally, with the exception of Mr. Cooper (whose son played pro ball—I knew Eric and Marcus Allen). I had no idea that all my mentors knew my dad. Even when I thought no one was watching, I had eyes on me all the time.


Because of these significant individuals who helped mold me, I have passed down strength, focus, and the importance of avoiding distractions to my children. It is true: “Plant the seed when a child is young, and it will blossom.”

What advice would you offer to aspiring poets who are looking to find their own voice and style in the world of poetry?

1. Read a lot, not just poetry but everything. This will provide you with more topics to discuss and a broader vocabulary.


2. Go out to open mics. This is the best way to witness people just like you get up on stage or in front of a crowd and share their truths.


3. Don't worry about being perfect. If you are speaking from the heart and continue to practice, you will develop your own style and rhythm.


These are the lessons I was given when I began my journey as a spoken word artist. And most importantly, know your why. Why are you a poet? Your why is especially important.

Reflecting on your academic and extracurricular activities, is there a particular accomplishment or project that you're especially proud of?

Over the years, I have received numerous awards, recognitions, and honors for my poetry, activism, and as a heart failure survivor promoting better heart health. Recently, I am most proud of being honored to hold lectures at HBCUs on the art of poetry. These young minds not only have to purchase my book for the course, but they also have assignments and midterm exams based on the lectures. This is another one of those "wow" moments in my life that I never imagined would be an accomplishment.


Are there any upcoming projects or events you'd like to share?

I have been a member of the poetry team called Sol-Poetry for over 10 years. We hold spoken word productions every other month, and I am happy and proud to say we sell out these shows all the time. It's a beautiful thing to see a cultivating group of some of the most talented, well-rounded, and gifted poets, authors, entrepreneurs, activists, and spoken word artists I have the honor to call my family.


To stay updated on all upcoming projects and events, you can visit, follow the Sol-Poetry page on Facebook, Yolan Young on Facebook, or @apoets_poet on Instagram. 


 Are you a member of any special affiliates or organizations?

I am the vice president of the international award-winning team Sol-Poetry and a member of Jala World Productions. Sol-Poetry holds spoken word productions every other month, and I am happy and proud to say we sell out these shows all the time. It's a beautiful thing to see a cultivating group of some of the most talented, well-rounded, and gifted poets, authors, entrepreneurs, activists, and spoken word artists I have the honor to call my family.


You can also IDMB Yolan Young to check all the films and latest movies I have done that are streaming or will be premiering soon.

A House Without A Father (Official Trailer)


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