The Charlotte poetry community is reeling at the news that beloved poet Tavis P. Brunson died on Tuesday from medical complications. He was only 44. Brunson lived in Columbia, but he was an integral part of the Charlotte poetry scene and a founding member of the poetry group Concrete Generation, which includes Mike Simms, Carlos Robson, Bluz and CP Maze.
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Ask anyone about Brunson and they’ll recall his laugh, his humor and his spirituality. It was his spirituality and guidance that has left such a hole in the hearts of many.
“He did a lot of religious poems for folks who are not religious,” said friend Wendy Jones, who met Brunson at a Charlotte poetry slam about 10 years ago. “You didn’t have to go to church every Sunday for his poem about God to get to you.”
Brunson did many poems about God and fallen angels. He dealt with questions about death and why we’re here. He pushed us to be stronger, said poet Bluz, who knew him for 15 years.
“If there was ever a minister and ministry, he was it,” Bluz recalled. “He was just a rock on that point.”
Brunson didn’t limit his inspiration to spirituality and God.
Charlotte poet Melissa Harris met Brunson at a poetry slam in 2004, and they’ve been friend since. She said if her heart was hurting, he would send videos of him lip syncing to various songs. One would be a gospel song to keep her head up and another would be some foolishness to make her laugh, she said. He would text random Katt Williams memes and often just sent an unprovoked ‘I love you.’
One of the funniest moments was when they were filming “Vandals of Verse” and there was a scene at a yoga class. Brunson came out wearing a leotard and tights.
“The self-proclaimed ‘Big Pretty’ was never afraid to laugh at himself,” Harris said. “I can hear him laughing right now. It’s a sound that will forever make me cry and laugh at the same time.”
That’s because Brunson had an airy laugh that filled a room. It matched his size and personality, poet Bluz said. Brunson was an avid Cowboys fan and he loved Batman. He also hated spiders.
“I lost my brother. That was my dude,” Bluz said. “I lost a big part of my life. For the community it’s a huge loss.”
Brunson was Bluz’s confidant. The funny thing is, according to Jones, Brunson did all of his counseling by text. He didn’t talk on the phone.
On Tuesday, Jones said several poets shared screen shots of their text conversations with Brunson. His words of wisdom could also be found online with the hashtag #mindoftavis.
Many poets personally knew Brunson, but his loss has touched those who didn’t know him. Jones, of Greensboro, said, she’s seen comments on Facebook from people who didn’t know Brunson, but who have friends who are mourning his loss.
“He was selfless, he was funny, he was everybody’s best friend,” Jones said.
“Everyone had a special relationship with him that makes us feel like he was personally our best friend,” she said.