I’m Laura DiNovis Berry and I grew up in Lititz, PA, a town that once had its own chocolate factory and now draws famous musicians in.
Yess to chocolate. What genre do you write in, why?
I primarily write poetry. I dabble in short stories, but poetry is like painting with words and there’s something about verse that constantly drives me to keep pushing myself to improve in that arena.
Got another poet in the house ya’ll. When did you publish your first book? What was that like?
I self-published my first poetry chapbook, Bright Pink Ink, right before my wedding last year. It was extremely liberating. I was planning a wedding and a move from Pennsylvania to Texas so having the ability to channel some of my frustrations and nerves into that book provided me with a fantastic stress reliever.
Congrats on the book AND wedding! Laura, are you employed outside of writing?
I am! I have had the pleasure of working and learning from a wide variety of jobs. Currently I work as a Drama Teacher and work with children all the way from kindergarten up to high school. On the whole, it has been a wonderful experience.
I love teaching children. What’s the best thing about working with children?
There is nothing like working with human beings who have only been alive for a few years!
Their take on everything is fascinating. They can be exceptionally mean and fabulously kind – the reminder that they are still learning how to function in this world is sobering, but makes me feel extremely privileged to be a part of that growth. It can also result in some hilarious situations like having the kids be convinced that your hair is a wig since you’ve cut it short. I had to let my class of six year old tug on it to verify.
I understand also you write free poetry book reviews? Tell us about that.
I do! Book reviews are desperately needed in the poetry community so I created Berry’s Poetry Book Reviews last year. This is a platform for poets so they may reach out to a broader audience! The reviews I provide are free but I donate 10% of of my earnings and donations from patrons to a non-profit organization every year. Last year the beneficent of of these program was the Kennett Square Garage & Youth Center, an after school program which aims to empower middle and high school youth. This year, our combined efforts will be helping Lambda Literary!
Outside of writing, what are some of your passions?
Rugby has had a grip on me since college. Right now I play with the Corpus Christi Clams Women’s Rugby Club. I will be moving soon, sadly, but I have actually begun working on a full poetry collection inspired by the female rugby player’s experience so I don’t think I’ll be able to stop playing any time soon!
Alright now so we got another book in the works. If you had unlimited funds to build a house that you would live in for the rest of your life, what would the finished house be like?
My husband would sniff at this, but there’s a very good chance it would end up looking like an earth witch’s hobbit hole.
It would be warm, cozy and lead out into a garden filled with vegetable, guarded by maple trees.
Okay that sounds better. Scared us there a moment. What skill do you think you’ve mastered?
Oh, that’s easy. The skill of being ridiculous.
Lol. Care to explain? What’s ridiculous about you?
Well, I am generally known to be silly – it is not an uncommon occurrence for me to start dancing…wherever really. I like to have a good time and make people laugh.
Yea, laughing is lit. Does blogging help you to write?
It does and it doesn’t. It helps in the sense that I practice different forms of writing (more journal-esque writing), but it hurts because I distract myself from working on my poetry.
Understood. Laura, life is not always pretty. We all experience hardship every now and again. What is your best advice for reducing stress?
Exercise – it doesn’t even have to be anything intense. Just the other night my husband and I were in, not quite a fight, let’s say more of a spat, but walking – taking a nice walk outside together – really helped both of us calm down and better engage with each other.
Nice. What do you love about yourself?
My parents once said I don’t know the concept of failure, and I think that is definitely something that I love about myself.
Thank you Laura for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!
Laura DiNovis Berry recognizes that poetry is a near magical craft that she will never fully understand but will forever be held in fascination by it. When she is not working on her own poetry, she provides free book reviews for her fellow contemporary poets.
The question is deceptively simple. While it may seem like the history of “black people,” or a month worth of 28 days of “Black Pride,” or a horrific recap of slavery, Black History is deeper and richer than this. The African diaspora consists of a worldwide collection of communities and not all black-skinned people are part of the same nationality of people.
Are we going to talk about Black Biblical History and refer to ancestral names? The bible does not support the concept of race which means that we are then dealing with another aspect of black history. What is the nationality of the so-called “black people” of the western hemisphere and abroad? Are we talking about the Israelites (who are black) the Egyptians (black…Israel and Egypt is in Northeast Africa by the way), the Ethiopians, Nubians, Somalians, the Philistines, the Canaanites, Assyrians (who were Black Hamites), or the Elamites (descendants of Shem with Afros and full beards)?
“King Solomon said, ‘I’m Black but I’m comely,’ so what color would all of Solomon’s sons be? The Messiah went into Egypt to hide, how could that be done with blonde hair and blue eyes? It’s not about skin complexion, it’s just a fact, the people of the bible were black.”
Are we talking about the Ghanaian? Nigerian? Kenyan? Ashanti? Are we talking about the Jamaican, Haitian, Dominican, Afro-Cuban, Afro-Puerto Rican, Afro-Brazilian?
Do we discuss Kings and Queens? Who was King Solomon and King David? Did you know they were black Israelite Kings? Or, who was Mansa Mussa, Samore Toure, King of Sudan, or King Tenkamenin of Ghana? Who was Amina, Queen of Zaria, Candace, the empress of Ethiopia, Makeda, Queen of Sheba, Nefertiti, Queen of Ancient Kemet or Yaa Asantewa, Ashanti kingdom, Ghana?
Black people are worldwide so when we say “Black History,” we have a lot to talk about and fortunately for you, this blog is all about that not just in February but every Friday (or every other Friday) of the week. If you’re one of those people who live for the deep and rich experiences of Blacks not just in America but worldwide, if you live for this on an everyday basis, then you’ve come to the right place!
Next week, we have a new episode coming up. For now, this is a great time for you to review some of the articles we already have available on this site. Below are some of the more popular ones and I’ll see you next week!
Learn more by visiting the Black History Fun Fact Friday Page HERE.
ATTN: A quick word. I have selected four of my books that will be on a 99cent digital sale for the ENTIRE month of February! In honor of Black History Month, The Road to Freedom, Renaissance, Revolution and I am Soul will be 99cents in ebook. If you’ve never read any of my books this is an EXCELLENT opportunity to see what the hype is all about.
Before you abandon your blogs to turn up tonight (tee hee), I’d like to introduce our schedule for this year. First, I’d like to thank and welcome our newbies and our die-hard supporters, the people who like our every post and share on social media. You guys are awesome and I do not take your contributions to the growth of The PBS Blog for granted. If you are new to this blog, please be sure to take this time to look around and familiarize yourself with the place. There are four years worth of material here to help you get to know me better and my writing.
Bloggers and Blogging
If you are not sure how the blog works or if you are thinking of starting a blog of your own, I invite you to visit the Blog Tips page HEREwhere I have archived my tips on blogging. I highly recommend you skim through them if you are new to the WordPress platform and are thinking to start a blog of your own (new writers, blogging is a great way to connect with readers!)
Writers and Writing
If you are a writer (especially an Independent writer) and you are looking for encouragement, resources or a better understanding of writing from an Independent/Self-Publishing perspective, I invite you to visit the Writer Tips and Resources page HEREwhere I have archived my tips on all things writerly and links to resources from others (particularly those more knowledgeable in the field.)
I will publish reviews of books I’ve read to this blog again. I have not been as consistent as I was in 2017 (because of amazon‘s constantly changing review policies and my constantly changing schedule) but I am back on it dagone it. You can view my new policy here. (Does not apply to books I read on my own for leisure, just review requests.)
2018 has been a year of self-reflection, self-understanding and focus. This means that I intentionally focused on myself. Not in a selfish way but in a way where I can better understand me in order to help you. Long story short, in 2019 I will be refocusing on my services to others, armed with the fresh revelations that have come from getting to know myself better. I want to do more for aspiring authors, new bloggers, writers and the like. I am excited and motivated with the drive and desire to serve.
Now, let’s get to the point so you can get out of here.
While I have segments going on throughout the week to keep this blog afloat, this is not a niche blog. Meaning, I do not just post about one thing. Do know this schedule does not include any random, off topic posting I may do when I just feel like writing.
Everything starts back up next week, 1/7 – 1/11
Introduce Yourself Author Interviews – I will keep Mondays open for author interviews. To learn more about how to get featured on this blog, CLICK HERE.
No Whining Wednesday – No Whining Wednesday will continue with quotes and empowering notes that help to keep you from whining, criticizing, or complaining! Learn more about NWW HERE (scroll down for the archived articles or follow the No Whining Wednesday tag).
Throwback Thursday – I miss how we used to jam ya’ll! Throwback Thursday will be in full swing next week. Throwback Thursday is when I post old school music videos to the blog. I have 3 categories so everyone gets a lil something something from it.
1. Throwback Jams (old school music the 80s on back)
2. 90s Throwback Jams (jams from the 90s, obviously)
3. and Early 2000 Jams (music from the early 2000’s)
Black History Fun Fact Friday – Throwback Thursday Jams and Black History Fun Facts are the most popular on this blog so they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Black History Fun Facts will return in full swing. (I have written tons of Black History articles on this blog that should keep you busy reading if you are new to PBS. CLICK HERE.) I noticed we dragged a bit in 2018 so I need to step it up in 2019. There’s been a lot of talk about The Year of Return (1619-2019 makes 400-years for Blacks in the America’s per captivity) I may just start the year off talking about that.
Not included is poetry because I don’t have a special day for this. I will continue to publish poetry pretty much whenever I feel like it. If you would like listen to my poems, subscribe to my YouTube Channel HERE. I also host an Annual Poetry Contest, founded in 2017. We have had two amazingly talented winners so far and some outstanding runner-ups and it’s almost time to get things started for our 3rd Annual Contest!
The PBS Blog now contains affiliate links. This means should you purchase anything from these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. This allows me to keep this blog up and running. I will never link to something I haven’t personally used or disliked so don‘t be shy, click on the book cover to this month‘s featured book (Michelle Obama‘s Becoming) in the sidebar and thank you for your support!
Be mindful of how you make people feel because that is what they remember most. Whenever sharing negative experiences be sure there is a lesson to be learned or something to be taught from it. Make sure there is something that you can give back as a result of having shared it. Remember that energy you feed gets stronger. If you feed vengeance, complaints, hatred, and strife, these emotions will get stronger and you will unknowingly begin to project these feelings on others and the feelings you don’t feed like love, compassion, forgiveness, and encouragement get choked out.
Listen to Be Mindful of Negative Feelings now on Soundcloud for more and be sure to subscribe for notification of new episodes.
With the success of the Black Panther movie based on the super-hero comic, I am re-posting this Black History Fun Fact from two years ago based on real life super-heroes for those of you new to this blog (or who missed it the first time around). To understand our present, we must understand our past so that in the future we do not make the same mistakes. The Black Panther Organization actually did more community-outreach than they did protest. The protest is what we saw the most on television however it is not the bulk of their work. They were not a hate group, they were not supremacists and they were not a “black only” group. The Panthers promoted ALL POWER to ALL PEOPLE with an organization comprised of many nationalities of people.
Has history been accurate in its portrayal of the group affectionately known as The Panthers?
In Whitewashing the Black Panthers, Michael Moynihan argues that PBS’s documentary The Black Panthers: Vanguard for The Revolution, tries to excuse a “murderous and totalitarian cult” saying, “Almost anything that reflects poorly on the Panthers is ignored or dismissed and no critics of the party are included. The story is told entirely through the testimony of former Panthers and sympathetic historians.”
(Umm, so is every European, Western focused story ever made, but we won’t go there).
For the record, I did not set out to write about The Panthers based on Michael’s article (I actually came across it much later), or because of the documentary. After doing some reading I decided today’s Black History Fun Fact Friday will focus on three basic principles that everyone should by now, understand about The Panthers. But first, we must cover some additional facts.
The Freedom Movement have always been portrayed as a southern only movement on television and even in some books. Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia are states where trees no doubt bore the remnants of strange fruit. We could see it on the news, the newspapers, and from the mouths of relatives who grew up there. If we didn’t see it, the whole world did when Chicago native Emmett Till went down south and never came back and the whole world saw the ugly face of America. In that time, I am sure, we all had the same consensus on our hearts (among other things): “If only he’d stayed home, this would not have happened.”
This is because seldom did we then, and even today, hear about the racism and discrimination that took place in Northern cities like New York, Chicago, and California. Many blacks, no doubt, escaped the southern states for better opportunities in the North. Still, even this part of history is only a half-truth as not all blacks left because they did not have.
There were many African American’s who, after slavery, suffered tremendously economically but not all of them. Not every black family sharecrop or endure poverty but many families started their own businesses, educated their own people, and founded their own communities. From the Mound Bayou in Mississippi, Blackdom of New Mexico or the famed Black Wall Street in Tulsa it is clear, not all blacks were financially incapacitated. For this, it is only a half-truth that blacks escaped the south for a better financial and economic opportunity in the North and it is only a half-truth that they all left to escape Jim Crow. In truth, many of us sold what we did have to flee North because we were told (both by whites and black elites) that it was better. Many blacks were told that the North was the land of “Milk and Honey” so we sold our land, packed up our families and left the Jim Crow South only to run into the police brutality of the North.
It was Martin Luther King Jr., who said his trip to Chicago’s segregated Cicero was worse than Alabama and Mississippi. “I have never seen, even in Mississippi and Alabama, mobs as hateful as I’ve seen here in Chicago,” King told reporters. That statement is saying a lot considering what we know about the brutality of these states and had I not been born and raised in the city (Chicago), I’d doubt King’s words were true. But as I was born in Chicago and spent the first nine years of my life in the concentrated poverty-stricken projects of The Robert Taylor Homes on Federal Street, the most segregated and poorest urban city in the United States at the time, I can tell you that what King said was no exaggeration.
The truth is that while many segregationist laws were abolished in the South, poverty increased in the North. Black unemployment was higher in 1966 than in 1954, 32% of Black people were living below the poverty line, 71% of the poor living in metropolitan areas were Black, and by 1968, two-thirds of the Black population lived in ghettos, or impoverished communities, also known as slums. And so, it was for this hushed truth concerning the brutality of northern cities that two young men from Oakland California founded what would one day become the most hated black revolutionary organization of its time.
Founded in 1966 by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland California, The Panthers took notice of the police brutality taking place in their own lives and in the lives of members of the black community. They saw black men, and women, being beaten (some of them to their deaths) and nothing being done about it. They saw children who were malnourished because they didn’t have food at home and families denied access to proper medical care and education. Having met at The Meritt Junior College and being active in political movements there, Seale and Newton came together to form the Panthers. Following the passion of men like Malcolm X, and Stokely Carmichael, who were against the passive resistance movements of men like King, Newton, and Seale set out to be examples of what they saw was needed.
This leads me to three basic truths concerning why The Black Panthers were started and while I’m obviously not a black panther or black nationalist enthusiast (nor do I agree with their beliefs), I thought this would be a great way to re-introduce to you what this organization was initially built on and the things that they did that rarely made, and rarely make, the news:
One of the first reasons for the organizing of this group was to assist in the protection of members of the black community. Specifically, the Panthers wanted to protect blacks from police brutality, whether it was literally helping the elderly across the street, being human traffic signals, or literally standing between police and civilians to ensure the laws of California, of the time, were being adhered to. Being students of history and discipline, The Panthers were aware of the laws governing where they lived and they made sure both civilians and the police understood those laws and acted accordingly. Bobby Seale recounts, in Seize The Time: The Story of the Black Panther Party:
“He (Huey) defended himself in court and had beaten a petty theft case, and he was running it down how he got Olsen. Olsen was the dean of Merritt College. Dean Olsen had got up on the stand and testified to the fact that he had called the police in to have Huey P. Newton arrested, and had the police bring Huey to his office because some paddy boy over in the store had accused Huey of stealing a book. Huey explained to me that Olsen had asked him if those were his books. Huey said:
“Yes, this is my property.”
Olsen: “Well, I’ll just keep these books.”
Huey: “No, you won’t keep those books. That’s my property and I’ll keep them myself. You called me in the office for something. I don’t know what you want me for, but I’ll keep my property.” And Huey snatched the books back out of his hand and said, “If you want to arrest me, you’ll have to arrest me, but I’m not going to stand here talking.” And he walked right on out of the office. So, the same thing came up on the stand, and Huey asked Olsen on the stand, “Dean Olsen, why didn’t you have me placed under arrest if you thought I had stolen the books?”
Olsen: “Well, at that time, I just didn’t know my rights as to whether or not I had the right to arrest you.”
Huey: “Mr. Olsen, you’re a dean at a college; have a Ph.D. in education. Here I am a student in the college, learning my rights, and you’ve got a Ph.D., and you tell me you didn’t know your rights?”
(Caution. Dear Young People, I post this excerpt as an example that The Panthers were aware of the laws of their state, not for you to show how hard you are and try and mimic this. You must use wisdom in all that you do. With the number of black men gunned down for nothing, do not try this at home. This was in 1966, this is 2016. I would not want anyone being hurt for trying to mimic the actions of Huey as stated above. It’s important to obey the governing authorities, diffusing the situation if it is at all in your power to do so).
Free Breakfast Program and Medical Care
In 1966, students were not given free lunch like they are given today. Part of that revolution was due to the free breakfast program set in place by The Panthers where they fed children who would otherwise not have anything to eat. The Panthers had a lot to do with why the Public schools offer free lunches to students today. In addition, they implemented their own schools and system of medical care. The Panthers were, in short, of service to their community for no one knows the trouble we see and no one knows our sorrows. Preaching can only go so far, for if a man is hungry physically he won’t hear you spiritually. There must be physical action to accompany the spiritual and that is what The Panthers instilled in their communities: Physical and practical action.
All Power to All People
I do not want this article to be too long as I believe I’ve said enough, but I don’t want to leave without reiterating that despite all the black, The Panthers were not a black only organization. Having recruited members of all nations they recounted repeatedly that they stood for restoring “All power, to all people”. In fact, they were separate from the black nationalist groups often associated with them and conflicted often with them. In his own words, Bobby Seale states: “Cultural nationalists and Black Panthers are in conflict in many areas. Basically, cultural nationalism sees the white man as the oppressor and makes no distinction between racist whites and non-racist whites, as the Panthers do…Although the Black Panther Party believes in Black nationalism and Black culture, it does not believe that either will lead to Black liberation or the overthrow of the capitalist system and are therefore ineffective.” – Bobby Seale
The truth is indeed stranger than fiction and for that most conscious grassroots organizations have to be deemed cults and militant to prevent, what Cointel pro deems, “the rise of a black messiah”. The Black Panthers were seeking to empower black people and that in itself is dangerous, for in the words of the poet Brook Yung, “They used to put to death people like me.”
Finances are a big deal when it comes to Indie Book Publishing. For those who want to do it right, it pays in more ways than one to have a budget for every book you intend to publish. Check out this article from Angela Ford on ways to break it down and later, I’ll publish a separate post on how I break down the costs for my very own books. Until then, enjoy:
“Can you afford to be an indie author? As independent authors, we have to be aware of the way cost plays into self-publishing. Cost can mean the difference between turning book publishing into a business versus having a very expensive hobby. The question is, how much is too much? When do you know if your books are bringing in a positive return on investment?” – Angela J. Ford
Keep reading through to the original article here.