Introducing The Grand Prize Winner of Yecheilyah’s 4th Annual Poetry Contest 2021

Introducing the Grand Prize Winner of Yecheilyah’s 4th Annual Poetry Contest 2021

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As soon as I read the first few lines of Love Is by Tiffany, I whispered, “Yes.” Determined not to play favoritism, I sat it aside, but every time I came back to it, I would whisper, “Yes.”

I knew from the start this was the poem we were looking for when we decided on this prompt.

When I said this year, our theme was love, I wanted to see how the poets would explore love beyond what we typically think of it. More than romantic love and even self-love. What other faces does love have?

“Love is food stamps, government cheese, grits with sugar, and collard greens. Love is the sand between my toes. Love is the prize at the bottom of crackerjack box. Love is hopscotch and Double Dutch. Love is Afro-puffs, two French braids, and your first French kiss.”

As someone who grew up in the Robert Taylor Projects on Chicago’s south side, I can relate to these words. I remember government cheese and powdered milk and how my mama used to french braid me and my sister’s hair. Sometimes we had one french braid to the back and sometimes two. While we didn’t have much, we had love.

These are the kinds of lines that set Tiffany’s poem apart. She went deeper and took us back to our roots. Her poem showed us other sides of love and it was relatable:

“Love is easy like Sunday morning. Love is Betty Wright, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, and Patti LaBelle, a brilliant collaboration of lyrical hands fighting for the same devotion because love is Soul Train. Love is rich soil to the soul.”

As you can see from these excerpts, Tiffany understood the assignment. Let me introduce and congratulate our grand prize winner, who will, along with the other prizes, be taking home a full publishing package toward whatever book she writes in the future.

Congratulations Mrs. James!

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Tiffany James | The Personal Encourager, Founder of Encouraging Touch Enterprises Writer/Encouragement  Coach, Spoken Word Artist/StoryTeller, Author of “Living in the Land of I Am- Your Life Story Reveals your Purpose | IG: ncouragetouch

Tiffany James is an incredible motivator, speaker, and gifted storyteller. She is married and has three beautiful daughters, who are her world. Tiffany’s mission is to inspire everyone to own their voice, walk with their heads high when they walk in a room because they belong in the room, and rock their greatness while celebrating the greatness in others. 

Tiffany knows firsthand how hard it is to be the cheerleader behind your dreams, after deciding in 2007, when her corporate career came to an end due to the economy, to pursue her passion of using her voice and writings to impact change. It has been a beautiful, exciting, and sobering journey. There have been many times over the years she found herself struggling with uncertainty from the many disappointments and considered giving up and returning to Corporate America. Thankfully during that time, she had surrounded herself with a strong tribe who believed in her dreams as much as she did. 

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It is now her mission to be a voice of encouragement to people all over, regardless of their journey, to be bold enough to answer the call of the dream. IMG_6117

www.encouragingtouch.com

Tiffany passionately and consistently achieves this mission through her writings, workshops, storytelling, encouragement-coaching, speaking, and her new, inspiring book, Living in the Land of I Am- Your Life Journey Reveals Your PurposeShe teaches you success is not defined by how many figures you make but by the courage, it takes to stay true to yourself while pursuing your purpose. Her mentoring motto, “Greatness is about serving others with the gift that God has given you.”

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be spotlighting each of these poets individually here on the blog and social media. We will start with #4 and countdown from there. Be sure you are subscribed to this blog as we dig deeper into what inspired the winning poems.

Announcing the Winners of Yecheilyah’s 4th Annual Poetry Contest 2021: 2-4

Introducing the winners of Yecheilyah’s 4th Annual Poetry Contest 2021: 2-4

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Before we introduce winners two through four, I want to send a BIG thank you to everyone who participated in our fourth annual poetry contest, either by submitting a poem or showing support via social media.

I judged this year’s entries based partly on how well they exemplified the entry requirements and partly on the willingness of the poets to dig deep in creative and unique ways. Each winning poet brought something different to the table while staying on topic.

CONGRATULATIONS Y’ALL!

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Jasmina Jammison

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I am from Savannah, Ga. I’ve written poetry since the beginning of my college career. Poetry has become a therapy for me over the years. It has been great healing for me.

Instagram: @JillRxse
Twitter: @_Dezdez
Facebook: Jasmina Jammison

Dondi A. Springer

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My name is Dondi A Springer, from Florida. Beyond being a husband, father, son, brother, uncle, and blue-collar worker, I am a writer, poet, and modern-day jack of all trades. I love to inspire, motivate, and let people know it’s not too late to elevate in life.
 
Instagram: @napalmjax / Mr. Runthatback
Twitter: Mr. Dondi A. Springer
Facebook @DSpringer76

Zerahyah Ysrayl

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My name is ZerahYah Ysrayl. Native New Yorker and raised in Atlantic City, New Jersey. When I was younger, my best friend’s mother used to make us read the dictionary. That gave birth to my love of words, along with being raised in the hip-hop era. I learned to convey my feelings through the rhyme and rhythm of words. Whatever was going on around me or in me, I learned to put it in writing. Words and poetry help me to make sense of it all. Poetry is the most beautiful form of expression, and I’m honored to share my gift as a piece of my struggles, pains, and triumphs. Each one reaches one, bringing healing to one through poetic form.

Instagram: @shining_of_yah
Facebook: Zerahyah Ysrayl
 

We aren’t revealing our number one winner until Monday, 9/6 so be sure to stick around!

Over the next few weeks we’ll be spotlighting each of these poets individually here on the blog and social media. We’ll get to dig deeper into what inspired their poems and their writing process in general.

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life by Dr. Thomas Jordan, Ph.D

Title: Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life

Author: Dr. Thomas Jordan, Ph.D

Print Length: 132 pages

Publisher: Book Baby

Publication Date: December 16, 2019

 

In Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life, clinical psychologist Dr. Thomas Jordan Ph.D., outlines several ways couples can improve their love lives. He shows from a “psychological blueprint” how those previous experiences of love have shaped our current understanding in relationships going as far back as birth. He uses his personal life experience to show how what we learn in our family “shapes our experience of interpersonal reality when we become adults.” (Jordan, 92) Dr. Jordan challenges readers to identify what they’ve learned, challenge what they’ve learned, and then try something new. As you can tell, Dr. Thomas’ explanations are easy-to-understand, and his examples are clear and concise.

One of the most important points he makes is about learned beliefs, behavior, and feelings. Jordan asserts, for example, that if what we’ve learned about love was unhealthy growing up, we will unknowingly, somewhat subconsciously, repeat what was unhealthy in our adult relationships. The key here is what you believe about love relationships will shape your experience. Suppose someone taught you to think relationships are dishonest because you experienced dishonesty growing up. If you are not aware of this learned belief and have not made changes, chances are your current relationships will recreate dishonesty and generate a feeling that someone is deceptive.

This same thing can apply if you’ve felt Abandonment (loss), Exploitation (used), Abuse (fearful), Mistrust (suspicious), Controlled (trapped), Neglect (deprived), Dependency (needy), and Rejection (rejected). According to Dr. Jordan, these are among the ten unhealthy traits we learn and unconsciously recreate in our love relationships if we have not healed from them. Another critical detail Dr. Jordan makes is about how we become defensive to avoid being vulnerable.

It is the vulnerability that allows people to get to know us better because we have let them “in.” People shy away from opening up in this way because one cannot be vulnerable without risking unintentional hurt from time to time. What is meant by “unintentional?” There will inevitably be differences between you and the person you are in a relationship with, disagreements, different perspectives, opinions, etc. These differences are inevitable. There is no escaping it. According to Dr. Thomas, one cannot be in love without feeling unintentional hurt based on differences.

So then, why is “falling in love” worth it? Dr. Thomas has an interesting answer: Because we all have a natural ability to heal. The risk of falling in love is more tolerable and less stressful when we believe in our innate ability to heal. “If hurt leads to loss, we can grieve, heal our hearts, and move on.” (Jordan, 55)

We can avoid pain altogether by not opening up, but being defensive in relationships interferes with our ability to give and receive love. Dr. Thomas notes that love as an emotion is unpredictable and uncontrollable; hence, we “fall in love,” the connotation is that we have lost control. Because of losing control, we risk getting hurt. We avoid this hurt in attempting to achieve a love relationship without being vulnerable, which is not possible.

“Vulnerability is the emotional experience that shows you are open to giving and receiving love.” – Dr. Thomas Jordan

This understanding took me back to the 80/20 rule. It is a lot to expect to receive 100% good from one person because we all have trauma and baggage from our life experiences we carry with us. Even in an emotionally healthy and stable individual, you still might only get 80% of what you consider beautiful traits, if that. Can you live with that person’s twenty percent, or is this person’s twenty percent unbearable/intolerable? Based on your conscious awareness of your own flaws and strengths, combined with their weaknesses and strengths, what can you realistically tolerate in a love relationship? What flaws can you live with (accept)?

My only issue with this book is the opening section detailing what the book would be about. I found it unnecessary and thought the author would do well to jump right in. However, the author made up for it with the breakdown of healthy relationship experiences at the end! I think that tied things up well. These healthy traits are the opposite of the unhealthy list I mentioned earlier: Attachment, Respect, Freedom, Independence, Honesty, Consideration, Trust, Devotion, Acceptance, and Intimacy.

Anyone, single or married, disappointing love life or not, can learn how to heal by learning to love themselves, starting with being consciously aware of toxic patterns.

 

Strong Introduction: 4/5

Authenticity / Believable: 5/5

Organization: 5/5/

Thought Provoking: 5/5

Solid Conclusion: 5/5

Overall: 5/5

Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life is available now on Amazon!


My book review* registry is OPEN. To learn more about my registry be sure to visit the Blog Book Review Policy page here.

*Note that poetry books and Non-Fiction books will have a different rating system than fiction books.