Freedom Rhymer Poetry Event Gets People Talking About Mental Health –

Metuchen, NJ, May 22, 2024 –(– On Friday, May 17, more than 50 people attended Left Turn Village’s second Freedom Rhymer Poetry Contest and Open Mic event at Suite Metuchen, in Metuchen, NJ. The theme was mental health in honor of May being Mental Health Awareness Month.

The five Freedom Rhymer contestants, Loschil (48; Irvington), Kim Bosse (31; South Plainfield, NJ), Liane “Golden Sapphyre” Ingalls (53; Newark), Thomas “Ghoodlife” Pender (40; South Plainfield, NJ), and Daniel Fernandez (35; Somerset County) each had five minutes to perform original pieces about mental health. Following the competition, audience members were invited to share on the open mic. Poets talked about medication, hospitalization, suicide ideation, anxiety, schizophrenia, grief, substance use, depression, and several other related topics. “We had one poet talk about the frustrating aftermath and challenges he faces finding support as a transmasculine survivor of intimate partner violence- and at the hands of a social worker no less” says Dr. Tyree Oredein, owner of Left Turn Village and creator of Freedom Rhymers. “They were all stories that needed to be told.”

“Mental health is definitely not discussed as widely as it should be, especially in the Black community,” said attendee, Ezra Davis. “So it was really nice to have a conversation about it through poetry and hear from people who have/are also struggling.”

As the nature of the content was very sensitive, Left Turn Village partnered with mental health professionals and agencies. A licensed mental health provider was on site in case anyone was triggered by the evening’s content. C. Neptune Darby Consulting Services Inc. shared resources for the audience. Students Recover, a local non-profit that provides recovery support to high school students, Naloxone training & access, and mental health support was there as well.

While all five poets are Freedom Rhymers, Bosse won first place. “I hope sharing my poetry will help eradicate the stigma surrounding mental health conditions and treatment, as well as give a voice to those who are currently struggling,” Bosse said. In addition to prize money, all Freedom Rhymers will receive a pair of designer underwear from sponsor, CHULO Underwear.

Left Turn Village is a small, Black & woman-owned, queer-centered public health and social justice company. They offer a wide array of programming to help create safer, inclusive, and culturally competent spaces for marginalized groups. Under the umbrella of Left Turn Village, the “Freedom Rhymers”, whose name was inspired by the “Freedom Riders” of the Black Civil Rights Movement, is a consortium of poets and verbal artists who may be called upon to voice their lived experiences. For more information, contact Left Turn Village at or visit