This week we are spotlighting the winners of the 2nd Annual Poetry Contest! Today, you’ll get to meet the poets and read their poems. Let’s dive right in with our 3rd Place winner.
INTRODUCING NIA ELISE
Nia Elise is a 41-year-old single mom of two beautiful girls. She currently resides in Covington, Ga after relocating from her hometown of Silver Spring, MD. She is currently a 4th-grade teacher and has spent 19 years working in education. Her love of poetry began in elementary school when she received a signed copy of “Honey, I love” by Eloise Greenfield. She began writing her own poetry in middle school. After her divorce, she took to the stage and began doing spoken word. She is currently working on her first book of poetry and vignettes titled “Lessons on Love.” Be on the lookout for her book, and read more of her poetry by following @PoeticallyPurposed and on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
Welcome Nia! So nice to meet you beautiful. Can you tell us a little bit about what inspired your poem, Self-Love?
Nia: Upon deciding that I would enter the poetry contest, I opened an episode of Red Table Talk where Jada Pinkett Smith discussed her views on self-love. I began thinking about what that meant to me, and more importantly my struggles with learning to love myself, and how I want my daughters to view themselves differently than I did growing up. That was my inspiration to write “Self-Love” for this contest.
I love it. It’s a powerful poem. “The unattainable plight of a woman” was a beautiful way to open and sum up the piece. A few lines caught our attention:
“to break down the expectation into bits she can eat. And she swallows her pride, tears, fears, and the expectations of her peers And spits them back out at her baby girls feet.”
Tell us about those lines.
Nia: Society has placed these expectations on women of what we should look like; Our size, the clothing we wear, how we wear our hair, the way we walk and talk, how we should or should not cater to a man, or how we should mother our children. It’s a lot to take in, or rather to “Swallow”. Every time you open a social media page, there is a meme about what you should or should not be doing to meet these expectations. Through my journey of learning to love myself, I have had to set them aside and understand that I can take in what I think is best for me, and just throw the rest away. I want my daughters to understand this same thing. They do not need to meet the expectations of the world, but only the expectations they have set for themselves.
The unattainable plight of a woman The mask she carries is not her own Under it Lies Expectation Made into self-deprecation Caused by Society, men, magazines and molds. In her youth she may have had the physicality but not the mentality to sustain what they thought she should be. After birth she struggles with the physicality but now owns a mentality to break down the expectation into bits she can eat. And she swallows her pride, tears, fears, and the expectations of her peers And spits them back out at her baby girls feet. She tells her these folks’ expectations are not for you to meet They are for you to beat They will gnaw at your mind Pull on your spirit And you need to push it aside baby girl, Don’t hear it Be the best version of you That is more than just the view That is the drive to be alive and to continue to push through That is the understanding that God’s got you That is the realization that you are beautiful no matter what That your beauty is more than your face and your strut That what matters is in your heart and mind That it’s more important to be gentle and kind Especially since we are all going through The seemingly unattainable plight of learning to love YOU.
This week we are spotlighting the winners of the 2nd Annual Poetry Contest! Today, you’ll get to meet the poets and read their poems. Let’s dive right in with our 4th Place winner.
Introducing Kiyana Blount
Kiyana Blount is a mother, wife, and friend who has a heart of pure gold. She is 27 years old and has a passion for the arts. Kiyana loves to write, dance, sing and act and every time she walks in the room has a light that cannot be dimmed. On her journey through self-love, she is learning how to not only uplift herself but those around her. Kiyana is a hard worker and believes she can accomplish anything she wants to!
Kiyana, so good to meet you beautiful! Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself and what inspired your poem.
Kiyana: My life is what inspired this poem! I am currently on a journey of rebuilding my inner Goddess and going back to loving myself and being the best version of myself. This poem is my truth!
I love that. I understand that you have a business. Tell us a little bit about that.
Kiyana: The business I am apart of is bringing awareness to little black Kings and Queens through reading the truth about themselves. One of the books is called I’m Naturally Beautiful and it shows little Black Queens that they do not have to conform to what society says and shows through media. They are beautiful the way they are and can do anything they put their mind to!
Excellent. Clouded Container is a powerful poem. How did you come up with the title and what does it mean?
Kiyana: I came up with the title with some inspiration from a book I’m reading called Warrior Goddess: Become the woman who you are meant to be by Heatherash Amara. In the book, it talks about how you are a container and in your container you take things out and put things in. Whether it’s negative or positive! Sometimes the things we put into ourselves is not always good and it clouds our judgment. It causes nasty smudges and debris and you have to scrub real good to clear it out. I am guilty of many insecurities and making myself feel bad and on my journey of self-love, I have eliminated that. I have grown to love me and everything that makes me, flaws and all. I gave myself a good scrub down!! That’s how I got the title Clouded Container.
Wow. I like that container analogy. Well Kiyana, there are several lines in the poem that caught our attention. One was:
“Conditioned to see cracks in a broken mirror that never fell.”
Can you, briefly, explain that line to us?
Kiyana: It’s funny because that’s actually one of my favorite lines in my poem! What that line is saying is that in our society and the world we live in, they make it their duty to set a standard and make you feel like everything is wrong with you. That’s when insecurities and doubts and negative thoughts about yourself begin. You start to see yourself in this broken mirror. But once you remove the glasses that society prescribed to you, you realize you are so amazing and magical and that the mirror never moved, never fell and was never broken. It was just somebody else trying to define who YOU are!
Humility is an important part of leadership. That ever-present feeling of needing to do better, to be better, to try harder. To be firm, to speak up for yourself and to establish boundaries but to also believe there is always room for improvement. To look down on others only when we are lifting them up. To accept that we don’t know everything, to be courageous enough to admit our wrongs, and to constantly push ourselves to rise to the next level.
It’s Writer’s Wednesday and I am promoting the amazing contributors to this year’s second annual poetry contest! These women are not just writers but they are leaders in their own right and a great inspiration to me personally. They each have their own flava and style that I love. They are funny, inspiring, and driven. Be sure to check out their blogs to get to know them better!
“It’s life through my lens and I’m happy to share it with others.” – Dr. K.E. Garland
“This isn’t a revolution of Black against White. This is a revolution of right against wrong and right has always won.”
“They act like America was good and got bad. America ain’t never been good!”
“If they took all the drugs, nicotine, alcohol and caffeine off the market for six days, they’d have to bring out the tanks to control you.”
“Momma, a welfare cheater. A criminal who couldn’t stand to see her kids go hungry, or grow up in slumbs and end up mugging people in dar corners. I guess the system didn’t want her to get off relief, the way it kept sending social workers around to be sure Momma wasn’t trying to make things better.”
“I waited at the counter of a white restaurant for eleven years. When they finally integrated, they didn’t have what I wanted.”
“Poor is a state of mind you never grow out of, but being broke is just a temporary condition.”
“The most difficult thing to get people to do is to accept the obvious.”
“Education means to bring out wisdom. Indoctrination means to push in knowledge.”
“My belief is, you know, certain things have to be explained that’s never been explained.”
Today, I am proud to announce the introduction of my brother’s youth program, A.L.L. Athletic League of Leaders is a Non-Profit Youth Program based in Miami Florida dedicated to creating leaders of our young people by highlighting, through sports, a broad range of careers and skills needed to acheive their very best:
“The extremely unique non profit youth empowerment program launches its pilot today (6-17-15) at Williams Park in Overtown Miami. Over the next 7 weeks young Leaders will be exposed to over 20 sports career concepts. Teaching them the many ways they can go pro beyond the courts and fields. They will engage in hands on activities and unparalleled mentor-ship from current industry professionals. After a successful pilot we plan to launch after school programs in both Miami and Broward counties.
Upon proof of concept we plan to grow to 12 locations globally. Please spread the word and make any donations at http://www.athleticleagueofleaders.com (click on the donations tab) to help the future leaders of tomorrow.”
– Rio Infinity
“The question is not whether we can afford to invest in every child; it is whether we can afford not to.”