A hallmark of Deerfield Beach resident Brynth Peterson’s spoken-word performances has been a ruthless candor about his painful upbringing and subsequent stretch of time as a “bad individual.”
“I give it to ‘em blunt raw,” he says.
But even Peterson took a step back when he got a dose of honesty from a woman who had witnessed a recent show at his home stage, Bailey Contemporary Arts in Pompano Beach. The woman approached Peterson and, in a conversation that is still continuing, told him she had been molested at age 4 and hoped that Peterson could teach her how to speak about it, allowing her to purge the pain and move on with life with her husband and daughter.
“People always come to me with problems, but it was at that moment that I realized that I’m like a pain pastor,” says Peterson (whose first name is pronounced “brinth,” with the stage name BP). “They feel so free to come to me, because they see me speaking about all the things in my life, just laying it out for everyone to hear.”
It has been more than two years since Peterson got his first exposure to poetry and spoken word, when his sister Sarahca, a writer, dragged him to a poetry club near Tampa to watch her perform. Peterson himself had been writing lyrics for years with no foreseeable outlet. (“It was just therapy,” he says.)
“She did her thing and … the reception was so, wow, comfortable and intimate," he says. "The way she smiled up there. So I went up and spit one of my lyrics — she gave me the confidence — and the reception was so warm. I was, like, wow.”
Peterson, born in Fort Lauderdale and raised in Pompano Beach, says he was once “a bad individual, very bad,” attending three elementary schools, three middle schools and high schools in Georgia, South Carolina and Florida, before graduating from Blanche Ely High School. His mother raised six children alone, he says.
“It was very painful growing up,” he says, recalling a childhood memory of coming home from school to find his house had been broken into, his prized TV and VCR gone. “You’re out in the field, out in the yard, looking for the VCR, a tape, anything, when all along it’s your father who done took everything and sold it for drugs.”
Peterson says he had “a lot of bitterness built up” before he discovered his art, which fills a new CD, “Lines & Lyrics: Open Mic,” to be celebrated at a release party Thursday at BaCA. Peterson recently finished massage therapy school and is about to take his final state exam.
“What poetry and spoken word did is help me open up and express my feelings. Everything is better. Everything in life is better out than in,” he says. This also has helped him reconnect with the man who walked out on a 7-year-old Peterson, the college-educated man he remembers reading the dictionary for fun, the only other person he knows named Brynth.
“Me and my father have somewhat of a conversation, a relationship. He called me the other day, and said, ‘What’s up Mr. Star. I hear about you. I hear about how great everything is you have going on. I just love it because you are doing the things that I wanted to do,' ” Peterson says. "That hit home.”
IF YOU GO
Brynth Peterson performs at 8 p.m. Thursday at Bailey Contemporary Arts (41 NE First St., Pompano Beach). Tickets: $10. Call 954-284-0141 or visit BaCAPompano.org.