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Using Art as Self-Care: A Conversation with Makeda Loney

Photo by Ari Skinner

A few months ago Daniel and Maureen sat down with Makeda Loney to discuss how she walks through the city of Chicago as a copywriter, poet, and burlesque dancer. Loney is a copywriter with Burrell Communications Agency, a dancer with the Femme FATales, and the creator of Keda’s Poetry Service.

Loney began writing poetry in high school and through Keda’s Poetry Service she has used her talent for poetry to “spread love the old fashion way” as stated on her website.

“High school is kind of where it really hit home that there were things that I was feeling that I couldn’t say out loud or to any one,” Loney Said. “And I was like ‘I am going to put this in whatever way I can translate it’ and it started with a poem.”

Loney began to dive back into writing after the death of a close friend. In searching for a way to process her grief she found poetry once more and this time decided to share it.

“I really didn’t know what to do with myself,” Loney said. “You know, you can only watch so much TV and eat so much pizza and be in your mind grieving all the time. So, I just put out a Facebook status and said, ‘Hey! I am going to write poems for people. Send me your address if you want one and I’ll put it in the mail for you.’ I got about 30 addresses.”

Life got in the way before she could finish the original 30 submissions, so once she found a little free time Loney decided to revisit the project. She made another Facebook status calling for commissions and yet again the request poured in and so began Keda’s Poetry Service. She still takes commissions (though she has cut down to a quarterly limit of 25) and has even began to decorate them with beautiful watercolor visuals.

To get a sense of the person Loney is writing for, she asks each person who commissions a poem to send a song that speaks to where they are in that moment. She has compiled the songs into what has got to be the most epic and spiritual playlist of all time. When asked what the most surprising song she’d received was Loney told Daniel and Maureen that it was “Welcome to My Life” by Simple Plan.

Loney describes writing poetry as her “ultimate” form of self care.

“I need something physical to put my anxiety into,” Loney said. “And it’s weird, the thing that relieves me is the thing that gives me more anxiety because I’m like ‘Are they going to like this? Does this make sense? Are my color choices right?’”

Another form of artistic self-care that is a part of Loney’s life is her involvement with the Femme FATales, a plus-sized women burlesque troupe. Loney a.k.a The Royal Glitter Bomb (!!!) auditioned for the Femme FATales when she first moved to Chicago and has been a part of them ever since.

“I kept looking at the post and my best friend was living with me at the time, and I was like, ‘I don’t know if I can do this. I want to do it, but I don’t know if I can’ and she was like, ‘You’re going and I’m going with you,’” Loney said. “And I go there and I meet these amazing women and they were just so welcoming and amazing.”

Loney describes the group as “a beacon of hope to other big girls out there who want to find a place to love themselves” and urges anyone seeking some positive affirmation to come and see their shows.

If you’re in the need of lovely poetry you can request one of Keda’s poetic masterpieces on her site here, and hear our entire conversation with Loney here.


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