James Ivy Richardson II; Poet; Grammy Award Winner
Thirty years before bright stage lights and sold-out shows became commonplace for Grammy-winning poet J. Ivy, he was a high school student struggling in the wake of his parents’ divorce, searching for someone to believe in him. That support came in the form of an English teacher who changed his life.
James Ivy Richardson II had just moved from Chicago’s South Side to the city’s suburbs with his mother and two brothers. Back then, he was an insecure teenager walking the halls of Rich Central High School.
Everything changed when he met Paula Argue, who one day told students to write a poem for homework.
“I wrote this poem about the game we’ve all played about the cloud looking like this, like a waterfall, looked like a weeping willow,” Ivy said.
He got an “A” on the assignment, and Argue wanted him to perform in a talent show. He was resistant at first, but Argue insisted, and soon, he was performing in front of a crowd.
BY DAVID BEGNAUD, KERRY BREEN