Standing at the curb on a recent sunny afternoon in Davidson, Junious Ward repeatedly looked right, then left, in an effort to cross Main Street.
Despite a break in traffic, Ward went to the crosswalk, bypassing an opportunity to jaywalk for a more conventional path.
Ward's writings don't usually show that conformity; the Davidson poet's resume includes "Life Power Soul - A Compilation of Poetry and Spoken Word," his first book of poetry.
His free-flowing style does not follow straight lines. "I'm a believer that any kind of art form should be in the moment," Ward said. "Raw emotion."
Never miss a local story.
Influenced by 1980s hip-hop lyrics and spoken free verse, Ward is discovering his "Life Power Soul."
"As any kind of artist, you have power, you have influence. Your work is usually about your life," Ward said. "The soul part is, if you can move people with what you write or paint or draw, that's power in the art itself.
"I love writing. A lot of it is enjoyment of doing it. Commercial success, if it comes, is great, but I like to write."
Ward, a 35-year-old husband and father of three, juggles his day job as project manager for Verizon with marketing his book, research on a black history sports book, songwriting, a sports blog and serving as host to a private poetry group.
His interests involve introducing younger generations to the "Life Power Soul" of the written word.
"Any kind of artistic expression will help kids in their lives: how to express themselves, how to appreciate art and culture of the world," he said. "That could be a big part of their education if it's taught right.
"One of the main goals I have right now is to influence more kids. I have a date in June to speak at Hofstra University to faculty and staff to figure out a way to get kids more involved."
Good luck, Ward was told when setting up the talk at Hofstra: There's a problem with getting kids involved in poetry.
When he asked what the problem was, he was told: Poetry does not include a joystick.
Despite that mindset, Ward said he will still try to make a connection through more traditional forms of expression.
"One of the tools I'm using is music," Ward said. "I want to take a cross-section of hip-hop music, soul, country and show the lyrics of good songs and how they relate to poetry, get them to understand that poetry is all around them."
Ward was born in Rich Square, a small town in eastern North Carolina, he said. He and his family - wife Tracey; children Andrea, 16, Michael, 14, and Naticia, 12; and mother-in-law Charlotte - settled in Davidson four years ago.
"We have a full house; we work real hard to keep things together," Ward said.
When asked how he wrote while living in a full house, Ward said, "They kind of know me by now, so if I need some space, they give it to me."
Are there other poets in the family?
"Our youngest," Ward said, beaming with pride. He said Naticia wrote a couple poems recently that are very good.
For Ward, influencing a younger generation on the value of verse is his "Life Power Soul."