Leo Shelton is a writer, author, poet, educator, scholar, and a self-proclaimed life long learner and student of life. He credits his mom (Carolyn – “Tug”) as the most influential connection and influence on his creative foundation. Growing up in Nashville, Tennessee, he began to journal, write short stories and poetry at the very early age of 10 years old. It was there, surrounding his emotional development, through the exposure to such substantive and creative arts of Fisk University, his mother and god-mother’s alma mater, and Tennessee State University, his father’s alma mater, that his first interests in the arts took anchor, through such influences as the Jubilee Singers and local playwrights and visual arts. He entered a couple of local and national poetry writing contests, and actually won a couple of awards. This solidified the quest to one day write and publish.
Often labeled as a renaissance, he cautiously credits influences of such legends as Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, Nikki Giovanni, Langston Hughes and Marlon Riggs as having a major impact on his desire and creative expression, because “as powerful as those influences are, music, politics, love, life and so much of my culture, development and exposure, I think, also influences from where the words flow.” He additionally credits such influences as Robert Hayden, Richard Wright, Walt Whitman, and Paul Laurence Dunbar as big ones as well. Asked what or who he is reading or following these days, he comments, “Common, and Mos Def and Floetry are all doing their thing in a way that is bringing poetry to the forefronts, through music and song that is so impressive.” He’s also a huge fan of Terrance Hayes and his work. “And one of my personal favorites is the unbelievably talented, Tim’m West – he and his work are incredibly intoxicating.” With such a respect for the legends and a connection to the new – it’s no wonder this up and coming artists is already being labeled a renaissance force.
And if that is not enough, he is an adjunct faculty member at a number of universities, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in business, finance, organizational behavior, management, and economics, and creative writing, and a freelance consultant and course developer. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Business Management (Magna Cum Laude), an MBA in International Management, an MPA in Government Programs Management (Cum Laude) and an MBA in Financial Management, and he recently completed a Master’s of Arts in Organizational Management (MAOM). He’s completed two years of law school and is currently taking a break from pursuing a PhD program. He resides right outside of the Washington, DC area and is the proud owner of Tugson Press.
He’s the author of RHYTHMS – Poetry and Muse, Soul-Full – Poetry, and MBG – Men Who are Black and Happen to be Gay. His work has appeared in Essence Magazine, on DivineCaroline.com, and on GBMNews.com, and he was the first place, Gold Medalist winner of the 2008 Independent Publisher Book Award (IPPY) in poetry for RHYTHMS. In addition to this award, Leo’s RHYTHMS – Poetry and Muse, and MBG, were also finalists in the 2008 Next Generation Indie Books Awards.