Yecheilyah’s 4th Annual Poetry Contest Winners 2021: ZerahYah Ysrayl

Introducing ZerahYah Ysrayl

Instagram: shining_of_yah

Please, tell us what inspired your poem.

In a world that sometimes seems void of all things good, being a single woman, I thought of love on an intimate level. My mind processed what it would feel like and look like, and that poem resulted from that vision.

It’s a beautiful poem and it’s the only one that spoke of love from a parental point of view. You named the poem “Unknown.” Can you walk us through what’s behind that title? Why the unknown?

I named my poem “Unknown” because up until that point, love was something for me that wasn’t just surface. It was a deep, soul-warming feeling from bringing life into this world where I experienced the unknown. It was different, it was new, and it was foreign to me. I now know that parental love is the best love. Often, we associate love with love between man and woman, overlooking the love between mother and child. This love never changes. No matter what, it never wavers. In my thought process, the unknown is the best known, my experience.

What do you love most about poetry?

Poetry is one of the most beautiful forms of expression I have ever encountered. It’s like giving a voice to the soul. It can be a healer to both the writer as well as the reader.

I agree! Tell us, how did you get started writing?

I grew up in a broken home. The chaos of it all would have my mind racing so much that I started writing my thoughts and my feelings down just to relieve the pain. Then, when I entered middle school as a form of escape, I joined a drama class. The first poem I ever heard was “A Dream Deferred” by Langston Hughes. It was short but powerful. At that moment, I decided I wanted to turn this pain into something beautiful, and the process began.

You are a returning contestant, and it is something I always admired about you. You always came in as an honorable mention, but you didn’t give up. You kept coming back, and it has paid off. This year, you have placed.

How does that feel and what is behind the persistence? What makes you keep entering?

I’ve heard many say that they don’t enter contests because it can weaken your confidence, or they don’t want their art judged. I’m the opposite. I have never been a quitter. Although I’m still a babe in this art, my goal is to perfect, which can only be done by challenging myself, taking criticism from those more experienced than me, and rendering myself vulnerable and humble to those that have spent years perfecting their craft.

Every year I have accepted my honorable mention not as a defeat but as a means to come back stronger and more mature. This year, I placed, and it felt good. However, my work is not done. I will continue to examine and push myself. I’m coming for that number one spot. They say practice makes perfect.

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Listen. It’s the confidence for me! Sis said she coming.

What would you say are some benefits of contests like this to writers?

It gives the writer exposure, and it helps to strengthen the skills of the writer. You get to share a little bit of yourself with the world, and you never know who you may touch along your journey.

What was the process of writing this poem like for you?

I have always been my worst critic. However, I wanted some maturity to show in my writing skills on this one since the topic was so heavy. I wrote and rewrote a few times. But once I tapped into what the word love really meant to me, the words became clearer. All I needed to do was write.

What would you say is your writing strength and weakness?

My strength would definitely be my ability to speak on any topic without fear. I can bare my soul with complete confidence that my words will resonate with someone. My weakness is that I’m not consistent and unable to remember what I write, so it stays in a book most of the time. I need to share my talent more.

Are you working on any writing projects/books?

I’m currently not working on anything in particular. I write all the time, so I’m just waiting for the opportunity to share.

Where do you see yourself a year from now?

I will continue to mature my writing skills. I also would like to work on some spoken words. Writing a poem is one thing, but reciting it is a whole different experience. Poetry is such an underrated art. I want to continue to be a part of keeping poetry alive. Who knows what the future may hold. My book may be coming to a store near you soon.

That’s what I wanna hear!

And without further ado, I introduce to you “Unknown,” by ZerahYah Ysrayl:

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Photo by Mustafa Omar on Unsplash

The epitome of love I carried in my womb.
Every flutter, every kick brought about abundant joy.
Nauseous and excitingly waiting to give birth to a nation.
As my body morphed to make space
a delectable glow filled my face.
The heartbeat was music to my ears
like an ancestral drum beating in the distance
silencing my fears.

The weight on my bladder
the swelling in my feet
it was worth it cause it was pure love I was to meet.
As stretch marks began to cover my abdominal,
I begin to feel something phenomenal.
The conception of perfection
a body within a body
ten toes, two feet
the divinity of the creator giving life through me.

It was an umbilical connection being nurtured from the beginning, and it has no end
As my pelvis expanded,
the pain sent a thrust through my veins
straight to my brain.
Like a volcanic eruption, I think that’s the best way to explain
My introduction took 15 hours, no sedatives
in the room me and my grandmother
my closest relative.

My first gaze upon his tiny face,
my heart was beating faster than the normal pace.
At that moment, I experienced three degrees of love
Unconditional, Agape, and Infinite
For me, parent to child love was and is
the ultimate.

Copyright©2021 ZerahYah Ysrayl