I am 225: Latoya Jackson Sibley

Latoya Jackson Sibley was born to perform. When she recites poetry on stage, her booming voice fills the room, and her fiery eyes light up with emotion. She has the rhythm of a rapper and the melodic voice of an R&B singer. Her words leave the audience frozen in silence, focused on nothing but her.

Through clever wordplay and vivid imagery, she strings together stories about absent fathers, pop culture, giving birth, police brutality and love.

She’s known on stage today as Toi the Poetic Beauty,  but the middle school science teacher has been filling composition books with poems since she was 9. In 2015, she began performing her pieces on stage after a stranger signed her up at an open mic event. She hasn’t let go of the mic since.

“My job as a messenger is to be the voice for the mute.”

[Latoya Jackson Sibley]

The Alexandria native wears many hats. Outside of teaching at Southeast Middle School, she is a literary activist, budding musician, and creator of the art and poetry collective Bring Justice to My Rhyme.

“The event is for people who are deprived, hungry and looked over,” Sibley says.

Every other month, creatives gather at Pop Shop Records to perform music, poetry and spoken word as part of a live showcase event, Soulful Expressions.

On Feb. 8, select Bring Justice to My Rhyme artists will perform at Krewe of Oshun’s Mardi Gras parade and festival at the Howell Park corridor.

By providing an outlet for artists to share their work, Sibley aims to give up-and-comers a safe, supportive space—something she felt she didn’t have when she launched her poetry career.

In 2019, Sibley went on her second major tour, performing from Atlanta to Houston to Lafayette. For 2020, she has bigger goals. She plans to release her first solo hip-hop EP and a poetry book, plus host the first Bring Justice to My Rhyme event in Alexandria.

“My grandmother always used to tell me, ‘Toi, your poetry is your antibiotic,’” Sibley says. “But it’s not just my antibiotic; it’s not just healing me. It’s healing other people, too.” toithepoeticbeauty.com

This article was originally published in the February 2020 issue of 225 Magazine.