Tommy, a poet, says writing has sustained his sobriety

May 30 2017
Posted by: Staff
Tommy, a poet, says writing has sustained his sobriety

By: Layla Shahmohammadi

“Right now, I’m at a point in my life where I’m learning how to live,” says Contributor vendor Tommy. “The Contributor helps me express myself.”

Tommy, a Nashville native, has been selling the paper regularly for two years in areas around Vanderbilt University and Bellevue. Preferring to bounce around and remain unmapped, Tommy says he likes to switch up his selling spot to give other vendors the chance to work. Regardless of where he sells, he finds that people continue to “bless him” by buying his papers.

“The Contributor has shown me that there is more good than evil,” Tommy says. He has built a strong customer base of a few regulars in the midst of his scattered selling, feeling grateful for both new and old customers. Making around $20 a week, the money he makes selling the paper is currently his only source of income.

Referring to both his salesmanship and, more importantly, sharing his poetry with the public, Tommy says, “The Contributor makes me more extroverted.” His work is published regularly in the paper, mostly his newfound talent of writing poetry.                                                                                                

Tommy says he was too shy to talk to girls in high school, describing himself as “extremely introverted.” He enjoyed his journalism classes in school, but says that he didn’t know how to express himself then. Almost 40 years later, at 55, he reveals, “Poetry is the only creative thing I’ve ever done.”

Before discovering his love for writing, Tommy says he was very self-destructive. May marks the two-year anniversary of his time with The Contributor as well as his sobriety. He has been recovering from drug and alcohol abuse since May 2015, and his recovery has been coupled with his discovery of self-expression through poetry.

“It helps me in my recovery, in learning who I am and the person my creator designed me to be,” he says. “Poetry makes up for all the bad that I’ve done.”

Tommy mainly writes Haiku poems, which are a traditional form of Japanese poetry that consist of three lines that rarely rhyme. He says that his inspiration for writing comes from everywhere – from words, people, places or things. He adds, “It’s usually nature or people that inspire my poetry.”

When combing through his creative motivation, he explains, “If I could leave some sort of legacy, good or bad, my poetry helps me discover that.”

Tommy says he writes with the hope of passing on his own knowledge to help others, and he is especially moved by the opportunity he sees in youth. He adds, “I don’t want people to make the same mistakes I did.

"The knowledge of my own experiences is all I have to offer,” he says. There are so many opportunities for young people and I don’t want to see them waste their lives.”

At this stage in his life, Tommy says he is more interested in living out a life of recovery, free of the things he no longer lets control him. He says, “I’ve had money and women, but that doesn’t matter to me anymore.” In his sobriety, he hopes to use this knowledge to see how his own story of recovery can help somebody else struggling with addiction. 


by Thomas B.

There are many spokes
in the Wheel of Life.
We choose the spokes
we wish to ride, love
hope, joy and strife.
The spoken word
is the root of all creation.
When we have spoken,
it is creation that is chosen.


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