The Enemy of Poetry

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I am not at all surprised I am enjoying Cicely Tyson’s memoir, Just as I am. While I am not an actor,* I try to learn as much as I can from others. Even if it’s reading a book, I want to know what brought us together and what purpose I might piece together that we are intended to serve to each other.

I have had this post sitting in my drafts since the beginning of May. It wasn’t until I read this chapter last night I could finish it and feel comfortable publishing it.

In Chapter Ten, Center Stage, Miss Cicely is recounting her training with Vinnette Carroll playwright, actress, theater director, and the first black woman to direct on Broadway, with her 1972 production of the musical Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope

In discussing art, Miss Cicely (I like saying that) explains in just a few short sentences everything I want to convey in this post. 

“Vinnette taught me to learn technique and then to forget it–and to resurrect it only if it served my portrayal. Technique is important, to the extent that it is undergirded by emotion. I once knew an actress who was a brilliant technician, but her portrayal fell flat. She could create a moment and bring it to fruition, yet it was apparent she wasn’t feeling anything, and as a result, neither was her audience.”

Cicely Tyson, Just as I am, Chapter Ten, pg. 156-57

“Technique is important, to the extent that it is undergirded by emotion.”

I never consider myself an expert on anything. I will say what I have come to know in my experience, both as a writer and listener of poetry, is to watch out for intellect. By intellect, I mean the need to be so fancy you confuse the reader. It is, in my opinion, similar to using technique and forgetting emotion.

That is why I often feel that intellect, if not used in balance with emotion, passion, and heart, is the enemy of sound poetry.

“Watch out for intellect,
because it knows so much it knows nothing
and leaves you hanging upside down,
mouthing knowledge as your heart
falls out of your mouth.”

Anne Sexton, The Complete Poems

I have read poetry so over my head I could not possibly relate to it. Metaphors and similes were so puzzling I am not even sure Maya Angelou could decipher what the poet meant if she were alive. I once read a poem that ended with the author saying he or she had eaten a bird. I do not know who or what the bird symbolized. All I know is a bird at the beginning that ended up eaten by the end of the poem.

Poor bird.

I did feel sorry for the bird to this poet’s credit, so I was not without emotion completely. It is not lost on me that readers can discover their own meanings and interpretations of poems, which is part of the fun. We learn what the author intended for the poem to communicate and what we got from it based on our personal experiences and feelings. I love hearing how a poem I’ve written resonated with readers, even if what they got from it was different from what I thought as I wrote it.

But, I like to think reading and writing is a partnership. While the first person our writing serves is ourselves, I would hope there is something to be gained by the reader too. I don’t want to get so wrapped up in the beauty of language that there is no substance, just pretty words. I expressed this in the poem Give Me Life.

To me, this would be similar to the woman Tyson references, who was a brilliant technician when acting but could not move her audience.

If you know anything about me by now, you know I am a Black Movie Buff. It’s like Justice said in Poetic Justice about having something deep to say, about having a voice.

Lucky: “What you write about in that notebook?”

Justice: “That’s my poetry.”

Lucky: “You trying to say my cousin’s shit ain’t poetry?”

Justice: “It ain’t if he ain’t got nothing deep to say. Gotta have a voice. A perspective.”

Intellect can be a strength or it can be a weakness.

If there is an easier way to say something, write it plainly, and it will reveal its own depth. I like to write the poem as it comes to me and then come back later to dress it up. Ain’t nothing wrong with a little icing once you have the cake.

Here is another quote I picked up from the quote of the day from author and editor Shayla Raquel’s newsletter, which I also just read yesterday.

“Your writing voice is the deepest possible reflection of who you are. The job of your voice is not to seduce or flatter or make well-shaped sentences. In your voice, your readers should be able to hear the contents of your mind, your heart, your soul.” 

— Meg Rosof

*I said at the beginning of this post I was not an actor. I should say I am not a professional actor, as I do have some experience with it. In High School, I was part of a special program to write and perform plays. I cannot remember the program’s name or what the aim was, but this was my first official summer job. I did this for the summer of my Sophomore and Junior year, taking an official drama class my senior year, where I would also perform my poetry live for the first time as a monologue. In 2015, I was featured in a stage play at the DuSable Museum.

But as I reflect, fun as it was, I prefer to write the screenplay. Ya’ll can do the acting.


Yecheilyah's 4th Annual Poetry Contest

Have you entered this year’s poetry contest? I hope I gave you some inspiration! Take your time but keep your eyes on the clock. June will be here before you know it.

Submit your love poem on or before June 1st.

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

Note: I have not read any of the poems submitted yet! I don’t read any of the poems until the contest has ended and everything is in.

You READ – but do you leave REVIEWS? – by Chris Graham (aka The Story Reading Ape)

Just a friendly reminder to remember to review 🙂

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

PLEASE

A stack of books and words Read - Review - RepeatIf not, why not?

I don’t have time

The author probably spent a heck of a lot more time writing the story than you took to read it, no matter how slow you think you are, so why not take a few minutes to record your feelings about it.

I can’t write long fancy reviews like those I see on book review blogs

You don’t have to, Amazon, for example, only ask you to use a minimum of 25 non repeating words.

I can’t express myself very well

No-one is asking you to produce a literary masterpiece, start off with things you liked, didn’t like or a mix of both about the book, e.g.,

I liked this book because –

it reminded me of –

it made me think about –

it made me so scared I couldn’t sleep for –

it made me feel homesick for –

it…

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My Soul is a Witness is LIVE

Good Day Freedom Readers!

My Soul is a Witness is LIVE.

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About.

My Soul is a Witness, a collection of poems that reminds us that there is still hope in our darkest moments. Nothing we go through is without a purpose. No pain we suffer, and no trial we experience happens without reason. It all ministers to our education and the development of ourselves into the people we are ordained to become. It helps to cultivate in us a spirit of patience, faith, humility, and self-control.

Be safe and enjoy your week!!

Welcome

Wherever you are in the world, welcome. I have been MIA a minute, and I’ve noticed an uptick of Freedom Readers to this blog. You guys are fantastic.

If you have not already done so, be sure to visit the About Page to learn more about me and this blog.

My name is Yecheilyah, pronounced e-SEE-li-yah, aka EC. It is a Hebrew name meaning Yah Lives. In case you are wondering, I was not born with this name. I follow in the footsteps of Maya Angelou, Ntozake Shange, Sonia Sanchez, Amiri Baraka, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Kwame Ture, and others who are not widely known by their birth names.

At some point, I imagine these people, like I, have awakened to a truth that demanded a better version of themselves and a better way of living. Not only did they strive to change their perspective on life, but they changed their names to fit the newly developed person, they became. (I am drafting an article called “The Power of Your Name,” about the vital role our name plays in author branding. I should have it ready for you sometime next week).

Speaking of growing, this blog is so much more than what it was. It is the primary platform from which I share my work and the work of others. From our home office, living room, or bedroom, we can reach people worldwide. Isn’t that amazing? While I don’t intend to blog forever, I hope what I share here serves a purpose. With so many people home now because of this global pandemic, I take my role as writer/author/blogger even more seriously than ever. I know now more than any other time the power of the written word and its capability to change lives.

This blog runs mainly by a few weekly posts you might want to know about.

Wednesdays

The Women with Blue Eyes – I usually author poetry and black historical fiction, but I have a secret love affair with Fantasy and Sci-Fi. My first published novel (The Aftermath, 2012) was Sci-Fi. I got interested in writing in this genre after reading George Orwell’s 1984 in 2008.

The Women with Blue Eyes is a free fantasy story I have been sharing freely here on the blog. When Tina’s nephew Ronnie died, it traumatized her. It wasn’t just that he died. It was the way he died. After taking custody of Ronnie’s sisters and brother, Tina experienced supernatural phenomenons that eventually led to therapy and hallucinogenic suppressants. This didn’t help.

She meets Azbuga, an Archangel sent to tie the missing pieces together, still connecting her to Ronnie’s death.

Paschar (pu-shar), is the angel of vision, once tasked with guarding the veil between the physical world and the heavens, between consciousness and unconsciousness, between awareness and illusion. She once saw the beauty of visions from the Almighty and projected these into human consciousness. Now, she is limited, capable only of seeing physical beauty, extracting energy from mortal man, and projecting illusions. Paschar has fallen, and in a jealous rage, she attacks black men for their energy. How dare he choose them over her?

Can Tina, Jason, and Az defeat Paschar and her Legion once and for all? More black men are dying, and you can’t fight spiritual warfare with physical weapons.

This series is divided into two parts, and I am sharing freely part one, chapters 1-20. Click here to read chapters 1-17. Chapter 18 publishes next week. (Note: The Women with Blue Eyes is a Rated-R Fantasy series. You should know there is some profanity for those sensitive to cursing, and adult language).

My intent is to use this platform as a motivation for completing the series and one day turning it into a full-length novel.

Thursdays

Throwback Thursday Jams – If I was on the edge of a cliff, music would be one force pulling me back from jumping.

Okay, well, that’s a lil dramatic but, yea. I love music. Tee Hee.

So while I’m a serious person, I am also a silly and musical person. I love R&B and old school soul, and Thursdays are all about introducing you to some of my favorite throwback jams. Now, when I say throwback, I don’t mean that they are all technically throwbacks. I post music ranging from Old School (60-80s), the 90s (my fav), and the early 2000s. And sometimes I might post something new-ish because I just like it. Check out the Throwback Thursday category to jam out.

Fridays

Black History Fun Fact Friday -Black History Fun Fact Friday is a weekly blog series of articles focused on Israelite/Black/African American history. While the title of the series includes the words “Fun Facts,” not all pieces are “fun,” in the sense that is is all positive. My intention with this series is to present black history as it is without adding to or taking away from the truth, despite how brutal or uncomfortable it may be to read.

Take Sun-Down Towns, for example. The unfortunate truth is that some all-white communities today are all-white neighborhoods because they were once sun-down towns or cities where blacks were driven out and not allowed to enter after sun-down. Read more about that here. 

 

And while this is a weekly series, we have had no new articles in a few weeks. There’s a good reason for that, and I will let you all know about that exciting bit of news later!! In the meantime, if you would like to participate, I am still accepting black history guest blog posts for this feature. Please click here to learn how to apply.

These are some top weekly posts you can get used to. In between them, I share poetry, quotes, blog, and writing tips I call Indie Author Basics with EC based on my experience as an Independent Author.

 

It’s almost time for me to change my Avatar’s outfit. It’s getting cooler out! Who’s ready for the fall??

Do Not Write a Poem

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

Do not set out to write a poem. Strip yourself of all the education you think will make you a good writer, and undress all the fluff you believe constitutes a good poem. Write only what is in your heart at this exact moment—every thread of thought and every emotion you have not the courage to feel out loud. Write this. That thing you are afraid to say. Write that. Approach the page vulnerable. Come open. Come raw. Come wounded or come healed, but come bared of what you think poetry is and become the poem instead. Write accurately and precisely every sentiment you have bottled up inside. In writing what is in the most sacred part of your being, and the most intense sections of your soul, you may unintentionally stumble on something beautifully authentic.

You may even call it a poem.

Dying on my Feet: Why I Write (A Message)

Last week, I asked for support of Black-Owned Businesses in a campaign that runs from June 19, 2020 (today) through July 6, 2020. I added that those who RSVP to join the campaign, called My Black Receipt, will be in the running to win a free signed copy of one of my books.

I got no support and no email with an RSVP screenshot for a free book.

What I Got:

  • 6 email unsubscribes
  • 2 Abuse Complaints
  • 1 Nasty Email Reply

I was told I was discriminating against other races and religions and that I had gone “too far,” for asking people to support black-owned businesses.

Instead of talk about that, I thought I’d re-introduce myself. I realize some of you are new to me, so you may not fully understand the extent of my work.

Atlanta African American Book Festival | Georgia State University circa July 2018. Copyright © Yecheilyah Books LLC

My passion for the state of my people isn’t something that sprang up while watching protests on the news. I am not a “jump on the bandwagon,” kind of person. Supporting black people and black businesses is something I have done for many years. For me, it’s not about “white vs. black.” It has never been. It is about good vs. evil and right vs. wrong.

I write Black Historical Fiction and Poetry. My work targets black readers and aims to raise the consciousness of all people interested in understanding the plight of Black America.

The reason I say “Black America” is because Israelites/Blacks/African Americans have lived a different experience than the rest of the World, and for years that experience has been virtually unknown to non-black people. My goal is to expose those unknowns and free the mind of the black man, woman, and child.

I strive to manifest the restoration of the forgotten past to a forgotten people through book publishing and education.

In doing so, I hope my books can provide a roadmap for all people who find it difficult to be liberated in their own lives. I understand this isn’t easy to do considering the level of misinformation, deception, and religious ideologies that have enslaved us for so long.

I believe that faith without works is dead, so being actively involved is fundamental to me. Black readers are those I target and have targeted long before the Black Lives Matter movement. We are the people for whom my books are written, and these are our stories.

Those familiar with my work understand this statement by no means alienates other nationalities of people.

In the words of the Messiah Yahoshua, who I believe was a black man, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel .” (Matt. 15:24) It is to the lost sheep first and then to the nations. I believe black people are those lost sheep, and before I can liberate the minds of non-black people, I must work to free the black mind first.

I won’t apologize for this.

I have promoted people of all races, belief systems, and countries on this blog and social media, but I have also spoken about my love for black people. Anyone surprised about this either has not been paying attention or doesn’t know me very well and, therefore, are not members of my targeted audience.

And that’s okay.

I am not worried about those who leave because I would rather “die on my feet than live on my knees.” I would rather lose support standing for what I believe in than to sell myself short for a pat on the back. In the words of MLK, who so many non-black people are so apt to quote, “there comes a time when silence is betrayal.”

For anyone to say my request for support of black businesses is abusive and discriminatory is proof of the very abuse and racial discrimination blacks face every day from people who do not understand what it’s like and what it means to be “black” in America.


My Book Sale is Live!

Click Here and get all my Black Historical Fiction books and poetry for 99cents each from Amazon.

Want a signed paperback?

Get it with FREE shipping from now through July 7th.

Writers Wednesday – Chapter 10: The Women with Blue Eyes


Chapter 10: “The El Che Steakhouse Murders”


Big Steve felt the phone vibrate in his jeans as they entered El Che Steakhouse and Bar, but he ignored it. This was like one of those moments in the movies where someone sees a white light during a near-death experience, but he wasn’t dead, and this light was blue.

“Hey, fam, ya’ll see that?”

Big Steve tapped his friends, Chris and Marquis, as they made it to their table on the other side of the restaurant.

“Damn,” said Marquise.

The men sat down at the table, “Look like its our lucky day fellas,” said Chris.

Steve pointed to the table in the distance, “Look at they eyes though.”

“I’m not screwing her eyes,” Chris said laughing.

“I’m serious though. Ya’ll don’t think that’s weird?”

“Maybe they contacts,” said Marquise.

Steve shook his head, “I ain’t never seen contacts that bright bro.”

“What can I get you gentlemen?” asked the waiter but the men were glued to the other table.

“Hello?” The Waitress rolled her eyes.

“Uh yea, water,” said Chris.”

The waitress put her hands on her hips, looked over at the other table and then back to the men.

“Everybody want water?”

“Yep,” said Marquise, still staring across the room.

“Let me get a shot of crown, no ice,” said Steve.

The waitress wrote down his order, rolled her eyes again and walked off.

Chris got up from the table and Big Steve grabbed his arm, “What you doing man?”

“Imma go talk to her.”

Steve frowned, “what?”

“I ain’t about to sit here with my tongue out like ya’ll. Got my eye on that little Japanese one. I love it when they little like that.”

The men laughed hard and the women across the room all turned to look at them, their crystal blue eyes piercing. It was like a lucid dream. Either this wasn’t really happening, or they were three of the luckiest men on Earth. Time seemed to stop as the women looked deeply into their eyes from across the room.

“Maybe I should just sit here a minute,” said Chris, unable to take his eyes off the Japanese one. He didn’t know if she was that fine or if he actually couldn’t look away.

In seconds, the women appeared right in front of them, their bodies bursting out of their clothing. Steve didn’t know how they had made it over to their table so quickly or how the thickest, darkest, sexist found her way onto his lap, his chin in her hands, her eyes locked on his. He wiped his brow. It had suddenly gotten hot.

***

Paschar turned around, slowly, careful to pay attention to every inch of her body. As she locked eyes with the biggest man at the table, her girls followed suit, rays of blue light shooting like lasers into the men’s eyes. They had frozen time and within seconds had glided over to the table. It didn’t matter that there were seven of them and three of the men. Men who thought they were getting orgies were the easiest victims anyway.

Paschar sat her booty on top of the man’s lap, strategically placing it on the part of his jeans where his penis was rock hard. Their lips met and she kissed him deeply, strongly. She enjoyed the kissing, their tongues lapping onto the other, the fresh taste of his scent. She could taste his essence. His past and his present. Everything that led him to this place was on her tongue. Everyone in the restaurant disappeared and it was just her and him.

She inhaled and with it sucked the oxygen out of his lungs, slowly suffocating him. Big Steve’s eyes swelled with surprise, his erect penis was now limp at the door of death. He couldn’t breathe. He knew it was something strange about these women, but it was too late. She had latched onto his mouth and wouldn’t let go. He pushed hard against her body, but she was like concrete. He was well over 200lbs. How in the hell was she stronger than he was?

The color drained from his face as he pushed but the woman didn’t move. Steve’s head got smaller as his body shrunk, his skin clinging onto his bones. The same was happening to his friends, their clothing was getting bigger and baggy as the women sucked the energy from their body. Paschar kept her lips locked on Steve’ and sucked until he was a sunken corpse before her.

She stood and searched the man’s pockets for the device that kept vibrating. She touched the screen. She learned how to operate cell phones years ago. It was strange how addicted the humans were to it, but she had to respect Hephaestus’s work, God of technology. He was getting his just as she had just gotten hers. She read the words on the screen.

Jason: Eh, I’m on my way, where ya’ll at?

Jason: Steve…

Jason: Eh, Steve where ya’ll at?

Jason: Hey man I’m not gonna be able to make it, somebody hit my shit, call me.

Jason: Hey man, sorry I missed ya’ll earlier. We got it taken care of. Tried calling. Hit me back. Peace.

Paschar smiled, wiping the sides of her mouth with a finger as Steve’s energy pulsated throughout her body. The girls had finished their meals as well. She slipped the phone into her purse and the women vanished, leaving three corpses at the table.


Chapter 11 “She’s Involved”

Are you new to this series? Click here to start from chapter one.