TUPELO – There is more to Talvin Grice than meets the eye. The 49-year-old works as a custodian at Milam Elementary School by day, but when he isn’t working at school, he’s writing.
Grice just published his first collection of poetry, “To Leave Me For What?” with Laurel Rose Publishing out of Senatobia.
Born and raised in Baldwyn, Grice now lives in Belden. Interestingly, Grice did not grow up with a love of the written word.
The collection of poems ranges from personal reflections on family and friends to current events and social problems.
One poem, “The Day the Ship Sunk on Dry Land,” reflects on 9/11. Another, “Get Rid of Me,” explores the damaging effects of drug abuse and addiction.
However, many of the poems are more light-hearted. Some are dedicated to teachers at Milam, some written with the help of students.
Some, like “Salt and Pepper,” are just simple musings.
“Salt and Pepper are some friends I know / One follows the other everywhere they go.”
Grice said some of the poems in the collection date back to 1998, when he first began writing as a way to relieve stress.
All together, the collection spans 17 years.
Grice said he is often struck by a title before the poem begins to form.
“I have the title first, and then I go back and put the words to it,” Grice said.
It does not take Grice long to write a poem, he said. When inspiration strikes, Grice said he can finish a poem in 15 minutes.
Milam students have been working on poetry in class, and Grice will get the opportunity to speak to them about his writing and give them some tips.
Sharing his writing with students, Grice said, makes him hopeful that they will believe they can do anything.
“They look at me and say, ‘How can he write a book?’ because I’m a custodian, but everybody’s got a talent,” Grice said.
Thursday afternoon, Grice held a book signing in the Milam media center, where he got to show his colleagues and students his work.
Milam teachers, as well as employees from across the district attended to show their support.
In the process of publishing his collection, Grice said he enlisted the help of Tupelo-born poet and author Patricia Neely-Dorsey, who gave him support and advice on how to get the collection published.
Grice said he will keep writing and would like to publish another book in the future.
“To Leave Me For What?” can be purchased online at Barnes & Noble, Amazon or the Kindle store.