Photo Credit: Nathan Olpindo
Derrick Engoy is a pastor, writer, and poet who believes words are meant to bring truth and life to people, rather than being used to destroy one another.
Derrick discovered a passion for creative writing in the late 80s as a young striving Hip-Hop artist; making beats and mixed tapes with an underground crew in the Los Angeles area. He was first introduced to Spoken Word in 1994 while watching a special poetry edition of “MTV Unplugged.” Heavily influenced by an amalgamation of Rakim, The Roots, Aceyalone, Rage Against the Machine, and Saul Williams, Derrick went on to be one of the two frontmen of an 8-piece Long Beach Hip-Hop band called Elements Live. The band went on to perform for nearly a decade; headlining at venues such as The Roxy, The Conga Room, and Lollapalooza, as well as, making an appearance on the World Famous KROQ (106.7 FM) as Jed the Fish’s Catch of the Day.
Since leaving the band, Derrick’s creative focus has solely been geared toward written poetry and Spoken Word.
Derrick released his first book, “I’m Bored With Christianity,” in 2006, and his second book, “Verbal Paintings;” a collection of poems, was released in 2008. His third book, “66: The I AM in Me,” is a collection of sixty-six pieces that focuses on the profound power of Love and it was released in 2012. Derrick realeased his fourth publication (Summer 2017) called “Breathe;” a chapbook of brand new poems and Spoken Word pieces.
Derrick is on the leadership team of The Definitive Soap Box, the largest running poetry open mic in the Long Beach area and founders of the Long Beach Poetry Slam. In addition to his involvement with the monthly open mic nights, Derrick currently recites at local coffee shops and conferences; including schools, churches, and was recently featured as one of 13 poets at RHETORIC 2017. Derrick has shared the stage and mic with many of today’s top Spoken Word artists; including Ezekiel Azonwu, Prentice Powell, Chris Webb, Leah James, Beleaf, Danielle Bennett, Rudy Francisco, Aman Batra, and Yesika Salgado.
Derrick received a B.A. in Journalism with a minor in Creative Writing from Cal State Long Beach and uses his passion for creative writing to develop curriculum for Sharefest. Sharefest is a local non-profit organization that facilitates an annual summer Youth Development Academy at Cal State Dominguez Hills. They also offer year round supplementary education for a handful of continuation schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Derrick is also the Lead Pastor at The Branch in Long Beach, California. He is an ordained minister with the Foursquare Denomination and has a heart to teach people about Jesus, as well as, serve the larger community. The Branch thrives on partnering with other churches, businesses and city officials to find ways to better the city. Through programs like food distribution and Laundry Love, The Branch has made a significant impact in Long Beach. Derrick, incidentally, dedicated his life to following Jesus the same year he fell in love with Spoken Word. So it’s normal for him to use poetry to preach the Gospel when he recites at venues, as well as, infuse poetry in his sermons. He believes the church should create a culture of belonging, as it helps people discover God’s love for them, their purpose and their value. When it comes to church life, Derrick loves to keep things super simple. The Branch’s vision, in fact, is: “We study the scriptures and we seek to live its truths out. We make friends. We serve others. We learn about God. The rest is all extra.”
Finally, Derrick is happily married with three boys. His wife, Marissa, is also a creative who has a spectacular singing voice and an eye for living art. She is known in the succulent world as Good Morning Cactus. Their boys love to keep them busy with basketball, learning how to cook, and getting sun burnt at the beach.