Erynne Byrd, a gas systems turbine technician based at Naval Station Everett, wrote a collection of poems while at sea on the USS Momsen. (FUTURES Magazine)

Erynne Byrd, a gas systems turbine technician based at Naval Station Everett, wrote a collection of poems while at sea on the USS Momsen. (FUTURES Magazine)

Everett sailor’s a poet and advocate for fellow servicewomen

Erynne Byrd’s “A Compilation of Female Truth” and her new business, She’s Her Own, are about self-empowerment.

Erynne Byrd is a sailor and a poet, but what she’s most passionate about is empowering women in the military.

A year after writing her first book of poetry while deployed at sea, Byrd, 27, has started a new business, She’s Her Own, to help servicewomen start their own businesses and transition from military to civilian jobs.

Byrd, a gas systems turbine technician based at Naval Station Everett, wrote “A Compilation of Female Truth,” on a seven-month sea deployment. She was featured in FUTURES Magazine, a nationwide publication of the Department of Defense, for her poetry.

Here, Byrd, a petty officer second class, talks about serving in the Navy, what drew her to write poetry and her new business.

When did you start writing?

I am a preacher’s kid, which meant I had to move around a lot growing up. I was born in Washington, D.C., and raised a bit in Queens, New York, but I grew up more so in the South. I am from the tri-city area of Columbus, Georgia, and Phenix City, Alabama. I started writing very early on. I was a very shy child and was mute until I was around the age of 8, so writing was always my outlet.

I can remember being in elementary school and always getting the best grades when it came to creative writing; my imagination was always far more advanced than other children. My parents took note of this and made sure that I explored that option by putting me in summer camps for art and allowing me to express myself in that forum.

What drew you to poetry?

I was in the first grade when there was a poetry competition at school. I hadn’t taken it very seriously, but I knew that it was something that I’d enjoy because it allowed me to create. My poem was chosen among thousands of other candidates to be published in a book. I kind of knew then that I was good at it. Especially as a child, we sort of look for gratification to help us identify who we are and what we should do, so I felt that this was who I was: I was a writer and a poet. I think it is interesting and very refreshing looking back that I was able to claim something so amazing.

Writing has always been where I could express my true feelings. I was always afraid to be vocal and knew that people may not always hear you, but if you put it in black and white it was a lot more undeniable. I enjoy it because it allows me to be vulnerable and, with that vulnerability, reach so many other women and be a voice for them as well.

Why did you join the Navy?

I was in college and I wasn’t focused. I wasn’t ready for such a grand decision as figuring out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life at such a young age. I eventually went back home and was working at the mall, and every day I’d feel like I wasn’t doing enough. I had a vision for my life, and I wanted to get a jump on it. It so happens that the recruiting station was right next door to the mall and, one day, and I just decided to walk in. It has truly been the best decision. It has built me up as a woman and taught me so many valuable lessons in terms of adulthood and how to achieve with odds against you.

Tell me about your work as a gas systems turbine technician.

Mostly we maintain and repair gas turbine engines and auxiliary equipment. We work with blueprints, schematics and charts, perform administrative procedures related to gas turbine propulsion system operation and maintenance, and conduct work area inspections.

What is it like to go on a long-term deployment?

It can definitely be an adjustment for people who may not have been away from family, and that can be rough for some. The upside to it all is the amazing ports you have the opportunity to visit. I have been to Singapore, Saipan, Australia, Japan, South Korea and many more. Those are the moments that make the long hours, as well as missing family, all worth it. Also, remembering the mission is critical and understanding that your time out to sea is for the protection of our nation, and I take true pride in that.

My most recent deployment was in Asia and took me to mostly Japan and Guam.

Tell me about writing at sea.

I found time to write whenever I could. I walk around with my journal, and any free moment I have, I make sure to write. My favorite place to write while out to sea is mid-ships, which is outside of the ship along the railing. I’d watch the sea ebb and flow, and so would my mind. I have found the most clarity while out there.

My writing style comes from what I have seen, the things that I have experienced and from the way I ultimately view the world. My style is honest, vulnerable and empowering. I don’t always need to rhyme, but I at all times need to connect with my writing and for it to connect with others.

What inspired “A Compilation of Female Truth”?

My story as a young woman is what inspired my book. It was a moment of vulnerability about what I have been through mostly in my 20s regarding love and loss. It was a space for me to be real and allow myself to let go of a lot of hurt and also empower other women to do the same. It was my mission to grow from the release of my book and find a new way of being.

There is more to life than hurt and pain. Loving yourself can introduce you to the best that life has to offer. You aren’t alone — what you have experienced is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of — because there are so many women to the left and right of you who have been there. I want my book to be a shoulder to lean on and the page to be a tissue for your tears.

What’s next for you?

It has been almost a year since my book was published, so I think to myself, “You have to keep at it.” Right now, I am currently working on my second book, “Of Glitter, Honey and Gold,” which will publish in May, but my main goal at the moment is empowering other military women to start and to create. I currently have a new business called She’s Her Own. With this, I created Military Melanin, a platform that’s main goal is to help women start their businesses, make connections and give them additional services to help them transition from military to civilian jobs. There are so many military women who are interested in industries such as tech, fashion, entertainment, and the list goes on. My goal with She’s Her Own is to prep their resumes early on so that when they do decide to transition out, they are well-equipped to enter whatever industry they wish.

Evan Thompson: 425-339-3427, Twitter: @ByEvanThompson.

An untitled poem from “A Compilation of Female Truth”

It always felt easy with you;

I wonder —

Was that why I decided to stay?

The love was easy

But so was the pain.

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