Meet Our Speakers

John S. Blake, who won first place at TEDxRVA’s Open Mic Night, believes poetry saves lives. The co-curator of the Slam Richmond Reading Series, John lost every member of his family to chemical dependency and its side-effects: prison, violence, AIDS, Hepatitis C, and Cancer. He was heading down the same path and contemplating an overdose when he heard the poem that inspired him to stop using and start writing.

Since achieving his sobriety, John has been a finalist at the National Poetry Slam, earned a Pushcart Prize nomination, and has published a full collection of poetry “Beautifully Flawed” (Urban Publishing, NYC). John also tours nationally; lecturing, facilitating writing and performance workshops, and performing spoken word everywhere he can from juvenile detention centers to universities, rehabs to libraries, public schools to coffee houses.

Best described as a man that finds beauty in the grittiest aspects of society, John teaches poetry and spoken word to youth and adults and hopes to convince educators to implement poetry and spoken word as part of required curriculum for all ages.

See John’s TEDxRVA 2013 talk here