Marine uses poetry to cope with difficulties of life
By Lance Cpl. Kevin Lopez Herrera, USMC
Stress, job loss, illness, change, hardships, loss of a loved one; these are just a few of life’s many inevitable events. During these situations, healthy coping mechanisms can be used as a way for us to manage these occurrences.
Some people choose to exercise, vent their frustrations with someone they trust, or spend time with family and friends. There are a myriad of coping mechanisms, and for Tania Raquel Bryant, writing became one of them, pouring her emotions all over blank papers with her thoughts in ink.
Lance Cpl. Tania Raquel Bryant is a native of Newark, N.J., who has had a passion for writing since her freshman year. She was raised by her Great-Aunt Lula Kirkland and Great-Uncle Willie Kirkland and is the middle child of 12 siblings. Bryant graduated from Doane Academy on June 9, 2018, then attended Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pa.
Her passion for writing started due to unfortunate circumstances. In May 15, 2015, Bryant experienced one of her most devastating moments when her Great-Aunt Lula, whom she considered her mother, passed away. During that time of sudden loss, she shut out the world and decided to write and express what she felt on paper.
“I would say that writing came from that moment and ever since then, I write about everything,” Bryant said. “It could be with my past experience I’ve had, me being angry, happy, frustrated, annoyed, or just simply thinking about things in the world.”
She began writing poems to herself about varying topics that she would post on social media, where she would receive feedback, criticisms and thoughts on her work. She would also share them with close friends and family, especially with her aunt, Lynette Simms.
“When she started reading her poetry to me, it was a little poem here, a little poem there, and then I started noticing that she was really writing poetry! She’s really writing what she’s feeling and what she sees through her eyes and that just really sat with me,” Simms said. “I told her: ‘You know Tania? You should write a book. So that everybody can see the beauty of your words.’”
Seeing as she is studying criminal justice and aspires to become an FBI agent in her future, Bryant thought that having a military background and experience would be an asset for her career. Due to this aspiration, and after evaluating her different options, she opted to join the Marine Corps.
“I chose the Marine Corps because it is the most challenging one out of all the branches, and I wanted to go big or go home,” Bryant said. “I thought that going the Marines would be very eye-opening.”
Bryant walked into the Recruiting Station Allentown, Pa., near her college’s campus, and enlisted with the help of Staff Sgt. Kehoe with the military occupational specialty of administration specialist. She departed to Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, August 3rd, 2020, and graduated boot camp Dec. 11, 2020. After graduating from Administration School at Camp Johnson, she received orders to 6th Marine Corps District, Parris Island, where she checked in on March 23, 2021.
Bryant began planning her book September 2021, aiming to write a collection of 30 poems that convey her feelings, emotions, and her perspective on different aspects of life itself. She had set a personal goal to get published by the start of the year before the start of her courses. She was hesitant at first out of fear of getting sidetracked and worried about balancing certain aspects of her life; performing her daily tasks as an administration specialist, carrying out her professional studies, maintaining proper physical performance, writing her poetry, and finding time for herself.
Bryant wrote several manuscripts during the following months, having conversations with her book consultants by exchanging ideas for her book. She also kept in touch with her project manager to ensure that she was maintaining consistent timelines, and commissioned Lance Cpl. Kevis Wilson, a Marine stationed in Miramar, Calif., to design her the cover pages for her book.
After many days of arduous work and waiting, between processing her cover, the interior design of her book, edits, and final iterations of her manuscript, her book, titled “Poetic Lifelines,” was published on February 2022.
“Follow your heart, don’t find any reason or any little excuse to deter you, always stay true to yourself and make sure you’re ready in all capabilities — emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually,” Bryant said. “Just make sure that everything you do is full of confidence, trueness and fun, because at the end of the day, you need to have fun in anything you’re doing.”