Bethany ‘$B Money$’ Montgomery

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Bethany Montgomery from Tacoma, Washington is an Eastern Washington University (EWU) alumna. She attended EWU on a full athletic scholarship for basketball. She underwent heart surgery in June 2016, cutting her playing career short and forcing her to retire from the game she loved earlier than anticipated. She triumphed during this challenging time and earned a Bachelor's degree (Marketing) in 3 years and a Master's degree in Business Administration (MBA) in 1 year.

Now that Bethany has completed her formal education, she is pursuing her passion of poetry. She envisioned the concept of Power 2 the Poetry while driving back to EWU from her home town of Tacoma after Thanksgiving 2017. Bethany has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. She started her own jewelry company in 2016 called 'Cold Connect.' The company was very successful but Bethany realized selling jewelry was not her calling. She believes in living her dreams and doing what she loves. Her goal with Power 2 the Poetry is to create a movement which brings positive change to the world. 

 

Afaria ‘AJ the Wordsmith’ McKinney

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Afaria Mckinney aka AJ The Wordsmith, was born on December 29,1991 in Dallas Texas to Lonnie Duke and Teasha Mckinney. He was left in the care of his aunt, Geraldine McKinney at the age of 1. By the age of 5 he had been diagnosed with a  stutter problem, ADHD, arthritis and was pigeon toed causing him to walk unbalanced. Doctors said he would never be able to walk properly or play sports, but his aunt never lost hope. She worked with him on his walking and enrolled him into speech therapy classes. By the age of 15 he had a vast collection of medals and awards for both his athletic ability and his steadily rising accomplishments within the classroom. It was during this time that he started writing poetry. At first it was an attempt to impress his fellow students, but  AJ soon realized he truly enjoyed writing poetry  just for himself.

It was not until the age of 17 that he would get a glimpse of what it felt like to perform at an open mic. During a college visit, AJ was offered a chance to speak about his experience and he decided it was best to do it in the form of a poem. His audience enjoyed the performance and was left in shock and awe.  This performance was a stepping stone to a future of poetry related adventures. By the age of 20, AJ performed at his first club in Dallas, Texas. Nervous about what he would say, he asked the audience to give him topics to speak on. He would then begin to perform freestyle poetry and the audience loved it. 

He realized the feeling he received from this performance was something he wanted to experience again.  Now at the age of 26 he has traveled the country performing in places such as Dallas, New York City, Orlando, Baltimore, Vallejo, Seattle, and Spokane. His involvement in Power 2 the Poetry is a call to poets of all cultures and backgrounds to step up and show the world that poetry is not dead.