Alyea Pierce: Using spoken word to amplify lost voices of history

National Geographic Explorer Alyea Pierce uses poetry to bring untold stories to life.

National Geographic Explorer Alyea Pierce, Ed.M,  is an award-winning author, educator, international speaker, and performance poet. She examines the revitalization of oral storytelling and folktale traditions in Trinidad and Tobago through modern spoken word and rhythm poetry. 

In the latest National Geographic podcast, Into the Depths with Tara Roberts, Pierce uses poetry to add vivid imagery to audio storytelling. In an effort to bring voices of enslaved Africans from the depths of history and grapple with the meaning of heritage and belonging, her poems are both authentic and expressive. From encapsulating the chaos of shipwrecks to recounting the perspective of slave resistance, Pierce draws us in with her vibrant descriptions, appealing to the senses and evoking an emotional response.

She speaks with a natural cadence that brings her storytelling to life. Her voice pierces the air and gives rhythm to history, adding a new frequency to folklore. As a Black woman writer, her mission is to focus on what stories are not being told. Her work aims to amplify the voices of those who may have been silenced in the past. 

“Aspiring to provide a voice for the voiceless, I center my creative projects around the exploration of Latino and Hispanic, Caribbean histories, the celebration of all things woman, and the untold narratives of marginalized persons,” Pierce said. 

While studying contemporary Afro-Trinidadian literature, she documented the history and experiences of people. As a first-generation Caribbean-American and Educator, she strives to always be conscious of how our experiences shape us into who we are, while integrating photography, videography, and spoken word performance into her work.

Pierce says that one of the most rewarding things about her work is the opportunity to coach Black and brown students in various youth development organizations. With her guidance, they learn how to confidently transform their creative ideas into professional voices. As an adjunct professor at Rutgers University, Pierce gets a chance to transform her passion into inspiration for the next generation of leaders and speakers. 

Pierce’s work has been featured in a number of literary publications both online and in print. Her artistry has been performed across the stages of the Apollo Theatre and Broadway's New Amsterdam Theatre, as well as at universities across the country. She has recited her original works at a number of TEDx events, such as TEDxOxford in the United Kingdom, and led international Master Classes for the Oxford Royale Academy. Alyea also had the privilege of performing at The University of Cape Town in South Africa, and opening for Grammy Award-winning artist Fred Hammond. 

Most recently, you can hear Pierce’s poetic verse recited on National Geographic’s Into the Depths podcast with Tara Roberts.

This Explorer's work is funded by the National Geographic Society
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