Durell Forte's coworkers and classmates at Lone Star College-Tomball think he's poetry in motion. And that was even before they knew he was a poet.
Always on the move and never without a smile, Forte has made quite an impression on those he has shared the last five years with at LSC-Tomball. Perhaps what was most surprising about this former Cypress-Creek High School track and basketball athlete, however, wasn't that he was a writer - because his professors spotted his talent for writing early on. They were most impressed with the fact that his specialty was poetry, said LSC-Tomball Professor of Developmental Studies/English Judy Harris.
"Part of what makes him so special is he has always been very mature for his age," said Harris who has taught Forte in two LSC-Tomball courses. "So it is not surprising that he has an interest in poetry, but the fact that he is so young and yet so able to convey these serious and topical subjects with such ease is very impressive. There is a depth to him that you don't often see in young people."
Forte, who earned an associate's degree from LSC-Tomball last year and works in the campus registration office, was a featured guest of the spring Celebration of the Arts where he read samples of his poetry from his newly published book of 67 poems, Speak What You Are Scared to Whisper.
"The audience just loved it because he is so animated and puts his whole body and soul into it," said Harris. "I had several students who never liked poetry before comment how they were just ‘blown away' by his work."
Forte, who began writing his poetry five years ago at 18, said he was encouraged by Harris and others to get his work published, so he started his own publishing company and had the book bound professionally online. He commissioned Westfield High School student B.G. Gillory to do the cover art and sold out of all of his copies at the LSC-Tomball Celebration of the Arts.
"I was so pleased with the fact that they enjoyed my poetry and got the book," said Forte. "It is gratifying to me that others see the value of my work."
Although Forte is a happy-go-lucky kind of guy, the topics of his poetry are at times pretty heavy - ranging from hate to religion to apathy.
His favorite piece, Hate, illustrates how being a target of hate can turn into fuel for some:
A sampling of Forte's poem, Hate, includes:
Honestly you're really not slowing me down.
You're only adding fuel to the existing fuel pool that I pull from.
And I frequently bathe and backstroke in it.
This helps me to ignore the naysayer.
And navigate through the negativity.
To end up at my current destination.
"He really feels like he has something to say to the world - not just to any one race or socio-economic level," said Harris. "He does write very ethnically, but his message is universal. And the meaning and subtleties are so far ahead of his age that it's part of what sets him apart from the others."
Forte said he plans to pursue a bachelor's degree in English from Sam Houston State University and then a master's degree in creative writing.
"I'd like to continue writing, of course, but I'd also like to teach and then venture off into motivational speaking," he said.
Forte, who has a book of short stories -Truth Be Told - set for release in July, said no matter what his "official career" is he will always be a writer.
"I enjoy being able to put my thoughts and feelings into my writing, and I also really like sharing it with others," he said.
For book-ordering information or to contact Forte, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lone Star College-Tomball is located at 30555 Tomball Parkway in Tomball, Texas.
The Lone Star College System consists of five colleges, including Cy-Fair, Kingwood, Montgomery, North Harris, and Tomball, six centers and Lone Star College-University Center. With 49,250 students, it is the largest college system in the Houston area, and third largest community college district in Texas. To learn more, visit www.lonestar.edu.