Ensley poet recognized by Starbucks

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala (WIAT) — An Ensley native is grabbing the attention of one of the biggest corporations in the world, Starbucks.

Brian ‘Voice Porter’ Hawkins is a poet who just happened to be at the community Starbucks in Five Points West when a storyteller with the corporation sat next to him and started talking.

Hawkins is a man of many words, but this was one moment that left him speechless.

“I think the foreshadowing was bigger and heavier than I realized,” said Hawkins.

Brian has been crafting and sharing his poetry for over two decades.

When he was approached by the Starbucks storyteller, he shared his poem “Traveler” and started reciting it.

“If you could own the stars, what would you do with them? Would you superimpose them into the background making each one a single note in its symphonic chorus of sound?” That’s how the poem starts.

Brian said ‘Traveler’ is about reaching for your dreams and challenging yourself to ask, how far will you go?

Starbucks, faster than a double shot of espresso, put it into it’s series called ‘To be Human’ and flew Brian to Chicago to speak at the Starbucks leadership conference in front of thousands of managers.

He said this is one of his biggest moments as a poet and hopes it left everyone at the conference thinking.

“It’s about asking the questions to yourself, Will I do this? Can I do this? Do I want to do this?,” said Hawkins.

He said his passion for weaving together words are drawn from his neighborhood, Ensley.

“You grow up in a space and see people not doing great or you may think of them having a criminal mind-set and then you go out in the world and see people are impoverished, struggling and doing whatever they can to stay alive. It changes your perspective on what’s happening at home,” said Hawkins.

He hopes people who hear ‘Traveler’ realize everyone is linked, and we need each other to survive.

“I think this is a lesson our community can learn from. Everyone needs to have more empathy. Empathy is the key to changing the world,” said Hawkins.

At the end of “Traveler”, Hawkins leaves the reader with, “What would you do if I gave you the stars? Would you take them? You only have seconds to decide.”

This local Starbucks may have launched his literary “Star”.

The feature on Brian can be seen here on the Starbucks website.

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