Setting the caged bird free


Sociology student Taylor Darks at her book signing in the University Bookstore on Feb. 27.
Photo credit:Taylor Darks

Sociology student Taylor Darks did not always imagine that she would be a published author. She has always been creative, but it was at the very start of the Black Lives Matter movement that the Cincinnati native began her writing  journey.

“I wrote my first poem which I think is ‘Lineage’ when Trayvon Martin died,” Darks said. “That was the moment I found out I was Black in general. I actually hated sociology. I’m a sociology major. I hated it in high school cause it forced me to deal with the reality I wasn’t ready to face yet.”

The reality that comes with being a minority in the United States combined with a passion for writing is what led Darks to publish “Caged: A Poetic Collection of the African American Experience.” In Caged, Darks explores the various forms of oppression, self-identity, historical events and modern day slavery.

While it was during her time in high school that Darks became aware of anti-blackness and white supremacy, it was also a time where she learned to channel her energy into poetry. Darks credits her 10th grade English teacher for pouring into her while taking a creative writing class.

“I always had this thing with him talking about being more than just the labels that are put on you,” Darks said. “If you can try to be more than the labels people give you, you’re always gonna succeed and you’re always going to be successful even if it means you might not make a lot of money, but you will be successful within yourself.”

A picture of Dark's book Caged: A Poetic Collection of the African American Experience.
Photo credit: Taylor Darks

Since being published in 2017, Darks has spent time promoting the book and enjoys discussing it with others who may be able to relate to the themes in the novel.

Senior sociology student Patrice Campbell was one of many students at the book signing held on Feb. 27 at the university bookstore. Campbell thinks that support of Black authors is always needed.

“Taylor is a member of the Sociology and Criminal Justice Club so when I initially heard of the book release I was very excited so I told the members of the organization to attend,” Campbell said. “But it’s also very important for us to support black owned work not just in Black History Month, but period. We have to uplift and support one another. That is the only way that we’ll get ahead as a race, especially our Black authors.”

Inspired by Black female authors such as Tony Morrison for their detail, Darks always informs readers of the novel that it should be read as a whole since it starts from the beginning of slavery until the present. At the book talk held in Coleman Library, Darks read and discussed a few of her poems to a room full of supporters.

Senior English student Mayia Garce was among the supporters who spoke with Darks. Garce encourages others to support the work of their peers.

“I think that this is important because any student that’s trying to start out doesn’t necessarily have the money to leverage a lot of people and so because of the environment that FAMU has, I feel as though it kind of resonates with that vision, really,” Garce said.

In the future, Darks plans on publishing more work including children’s books and fiction writing. She encourages others who wish to make their dreams a reality to start building their foundation and utilizing the resources now.

“My advice would be start early. I think I meet too many people, not to say this is a majority, too many people on FAMU’s campus and other places who want to wait until their settled down to start going after their goals or aspirations and I just don’t agree with that cause you never know if tomorrow’s promised.” Darks said.

To get a copy of “Caged A Poetic Collection of the African American Experience.”, visit