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Founder and President – Eean Tyson

Eean Tyson is the founder and president of OUR P.L.A.C.E., and has spent the past four years engaging, mobilizing, and developing the arts community in Fayetteville, North Carolina into an exciting center for writers and poets across the state to improve their practice, connect to creative and professional opportunities for growth, and be invigorated by a flourishing network of other artists.

Eean was born in Pensacola, Florida, but has lived everywhere from King’s Bay, Georgia to Goose Creek, South Carolina to Yokosuka, Japan. In the first grade, an assignment to write a simple, four-line poem awakened an intrinsic creative spark. To the surprise of his teacher, he submitted an entire page of poetry, and has not stopped writing ever since. Throughout most of his youth, however, poetry was more of a personal hobby. He graduated from Auburn University in 2005 with a degree in Criminology and built a career as a background investigator in Miami, Florida and Honolulu, Hawaii. In 2009, his job brought him to Fayetteville, where he performed at an open mic, sharing his writing publicly for the first time. From then on, he was hooked, and became a regular at open mics and poetry slams, culminating in a poetry tour in 2011 when he did 27 shows in 31 days, and performing at the Southern Fried Poetry Slam in Atlanta for the first time.

In 2012, Eean with the help of Sherris Johnson, started the Marquis Slam, which has grown into one of the largest poetry slams in North Carolina and draws more than 100 people every month. Before the show, Fayetteville had never been represented at the National Poetry Slam because only teams from a certified venue are able to compete. The Marquis Slam made history by sending the first team from Fayetteville to the National Poetry Slam in 2014, and they have competed every year since.

In 2014, Eean started Our P.L.A.C.E. to begin to pursue his dream by providing spaces and opportunities for young people in the community to express themselves through art. Current projects include working with Central Harnett High School to start a poetry club and coach a slam team to perform at Brave New Voices, an international youth poetry slam festival.

Co-Founder and Director – Sherris Johnson

Since her birth in 1980, Sherris R Johnson has been on a quest to impact the lives of everyone she encounters. She always has an inviting smile and kind words. There is no such thing as a stranger with her because she easily makes new acquaintances. She has lived in numerous states to include Florida, Virginia and South Carolina but, because she spent the bulk of her life growing and maturing into the woman she is today, she considers North Carolina her home.

Sherris expressed interest in the arts from a very early age. She thrived amongst her peers in the areas of creative arts and dramatic performance. Her natural ability to “turn on” made it extremely easy for her to captivate an audience and win over hearts. Secretly she began to write poetry as she found rhyme schemes fascinating. It wasn’t until the 7th grade that she began to share her works with friends and a few family members. Her natural talent to manipulate words and play on their meanings made open mics and poetry slams a great source of creative release. Although Sherris had been performing in plays since the 3rd grade, it wasn’t until 2011 when she performed at her 1st open mic. She would never imagine that 1st encounter would lead her to continue to share her works in such an intimate setting.

Because of her caring heart and nurturing spirit, Sherris has an outstanding ability to connect with children. One of her many passions is helping them develop their voice and strive for excellence in all they do. She has goals set to help with creative enrichment, back to school drives, artistic development and provided necessary resources for all kids to become a positive entity within the community. It is her belief that a community is only as strong as the children it produces.

As a two time cancer survivor, Sherris will to set up mentorships for young girls who are battling cancer with a focus on uterine/ovarian forms of this disease. She knows the battle all to well and is determined to provide a voice and listening ear in time of need.

Be on the look out for big things to come from Sherris R Johnson as this is only the beginning of the journey for this GOAL digger.