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Former hip-hop performer to share poetry

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

From 1992 to 1994, Aerle Taree was a member of Grammy Award-winning alternative hip-hop group, Arrested Development. During that time, the Atlanta native sang hooks on popular songs such as "Tennessee" and "People Everyday."

Taree left the group to pursue a solo career in song writing, but in 1998, a unsuccessful surgery to remove polyps from her vocal chords left the budding star unable to sing again.

"I went in for the surgery and they botched it," she said. "I got throat surgery and it destroyed my career. Because of it, I got depressed and I got bipolar disorder.

"It was a life-jolting experience," Taree said. "I really had to find a new voice."

It was after the surgery that Taree began to concentrate on writing poetry and spoken word, releasing "PoeTaree: The Jurisprudence of Life" in 2006. She will share her words and thoughts with local residents Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., at the Clayton County Library System headquarters in Jonesboro.

Janice Arcuria, assistant director of youth services for the library, located at 865 Battle Creek Road, said the White House's recent hosting of a night of Poetry, Music, and Spoken Word was proof of poetry's growing popularity among youth. She said she believes Taree's appearance will be a positive learning experience for teens and young adults.

"We thought that this would be particularly interesting," Arcuria said. "I think the spoken-word format has really gotten a lot of young people interested in poetry without realizing it is poetry. It kind of mixes music and poetry together. When I started reading more about what she had done, I realized that this is an important local poet to feature at the library.

"If you say to some teens that we are having a poetry program, they say 'errr,' but if you say it's a spoken-word event, it is totally different," she continued. "I think there will be an audience who comes who is interested in her from past performances, and a younger audience who is not familiar with that, but is interested in the spoken-word format."

In 2003, Taree, now 36, graduated from Oglethorpe University with a degree in humanities. Since that time, she has written several books, including "Humanities Matter," a collection of essays on various topics, "The Autobiography of Aerle Taree: Originally of Arrested Development," and "For Molly's Mental Health: Love Me Too," a children's book that was a 2009 nominee for the Georgia Writers Association's Georgia Author of the Year Award in the picture books category.

Taree, who will share her poems on Wednesday, said she hopes her poetry will inspire people to know that there is life after dreams are lost.

"[Writing] just healed my mind," Taree said. "It put my life back together."

For more information, call the Clayton County headquarters library at (770) 473-3850.