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Daily Inspiration: Meet Natalie Hernandez

Today we’d like to introduce you to Natalie Hernandez.

Hi Natalie, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I was born on February 17th, 1991, with a medical condition called Congenital Hydrocephalus. I was born and partially raised in Queens, NY. During my twelve years in NY, I was raised around a lot of music. Because I grew up in a Dominican household; we listened to almost everything. Bachata, salsa, merengue, hip hop & freestyle being the soundtrack to my childhood. In 2001, I faced my first medical scare with Hydrocephalus. The shunt my doctors had installed at six months had become blocked, and no cerebral spinal fluid could flow through anymore. That summer, they removed and reinstalled a brand new one. In 2003, days before I was scheduled to receive another life-altering surgery, the shunt had complications again and needed to be removed. This time around, we were given the option of cutting through the other side of my brain and installing a small camera-like tube that would act as my shunt. After that surgery, my family and I moved to Orlando, FL.

In a brand new state, brand new school, I faced all different kinds of people. Ones who were comfortable with my limp, and ones who weren’t. I quickly turned to writing as the outlet for the sadness and anger I felt. Writing came to me naturally, being that my older brother was a rapper/ producer when we were growing up. Poetry was second nature to me.

I wrote privately for many years, until 2013.

At Valencia College in Kissimmee, FL; I had enrolled in a Creative Writing workshop class. My professor loved my poetry and encouraged me to participate in the school’s open mic a month later. My first ever open mic, I was nervous., I had recited a poem about a family member overcoming his battle with alcoholism, and to say it changed my life forever, is an understatement.

Soon after, I had been invited to participate in multiple open mics, even given the opportunity to collaborate with many artists in Central Florida. In 2014, a friend approached me about an open mic she would be starting in the summer. I agreed to perform but couldn’t have imagined the life it was about to create for me; both as an artist and as a person.

The open mic, The Sesh, opened doors to an entirely different world for me. So many like-minded people who loved poetry and music just as much as I did. I gave my days, nights, weekends to this show for a total of three years. In June of 2018; my family and I left to Dominican Republic to help care for my grandparents who were both falling ill to Alzheimer’s disease.

Fast forward to 2019, I published my first book, Alone at the Round Table. The success was overwhelming, in the best way.

Orlando and NYC greeted the book with so much love when I brought it back home. In 202o, right on the heels of COVID-19, I self-published my 2nd book, Vuela. During the very beginning of the pandemic, I had come to Florida to see family for only three weeks and ended up getting stuck until July 2020. Promoting both books became the only way I was going to make any kind of money during my time in quarantine, and I ended up meeting so many more like-minded individuals and artists thanks to Instagram. I was able to create a small community for myself and didn’t feel so alone anymore.

In February 2021, on my 30th birthday; I released my third poetry book, “NYC BUILT, FLORIDA GROWN.” This title meant so much to me; because it was the closest to my truth. Yes, I was born in NYC, but Florida blossomed the artist I became. With hip hop and my Dominican culture being two of my biggest writing influences, among many others, it was so important that the book I released on my birthday showcased exactly that.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
I truly believe that every artist has a story. A tear-jerking, sweat-driven, blood drawing story. Mine has been all three, but all thanks to my family and my friends, I have always managed to stay afloat.

As a person who battles with borderline personality disorder, as well as trauma from being bullied for having a limp, I can gladly say that I have risen above everything I have ever come face to face with. I’ve always felt like the odd one out, the one people spoke down on the most, just because they felt my physical “limitations” were not enough for me to become the poet I am today.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I’m a spoken word poet, a part-time photographer, an author, I used to administrate an open mic in Orlando called The Sesh Orlando, and I was known for three things in Orlando/ Kissimmee: My love for music, my poetry, and my red lipstick.

The one thing I’m most proud of is the fact that I can call myself an author. I have always wanted to share my full story with the world in any form, and I’m happy poetry found me.

Risk taking is a topic that people have widely differing views on – we’d love to hear your thoughts.
My biggest risk was moving out of the country right in the middle of my rising status. But it has shown me who was genuinely there for me, and it has shown me who was just using me to get ahead.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Kadeem Cobham, Elijah Horton, Shay Ocasio

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