They have turned truth into a popularity contest
where contestants compete to measure egos
but their faith is all fluff
and their zeal, a Judas kiss.
They forgot where they came from
so the hood is desolate of disciples.
Far be it from them to be seen in the streets of sinners
(the messiah did it, but they don’t really know their scriptures)
They preach salvation
but dine with demons
They walk on water
and dress in white
but they are not wise
Scripture is an early-morning anthem
but when one is hungry, they walked right passed them
Their heads are high, their garments fresh,
the world is ending; the time is dire
but the hypocrites do not reach for the lowly
they preach to the choir.
They teach those who already know the lyrics to the song
too mighty in their own eyes to see their own wrong
They sound intelligent to the human ear
but they crawl on their bellies and their eyes are slits
these die-hard saints are really just snakes
My next collection of poetry releases this year and I have decided on the title, “My Soul is a Witness.” I want to thank the members of my email list for helping me to choose the perfect image (we had a contest featuring several images. If you are not subscribed for exclusive first-looks and sneak peeks, you may click here).
This book releases in the fall and will be available for preorder soon. Exact date to be announced.
One of my favorite movies (I have lots of favorites lol) is The Great Debaters. I love the use of language, history, and education, and it also feels like to me they are doing performance poetry, not just debating. When the movie comes on, the Negro Spiritual song, “Witness,” is being sung as the people dance.
Just as with I am Soul, My Soul is a Witness jumped out at me and I felt it in my spirit that this was the appropriate title for the book. The soulful, sacred, and riveting Negro Spiritual songs taught of freedom, of hope, of redemption, and biblical justice and righteousness. I hope these poems do the same for you. I hope that they are liberating, restoring, and reinvigorating. “My Soul is a Witness,” is poetry that reminds us that in our darkest moments, there is still hope. It reminds us that our scars do not cripple us but prepare us for a work, and that our greatest weaknesses make us strong. Here, I give you my ache and my praise. This is a love letter to our overcoming, of yours and mine. My Soul is a Witness.
Chanelle’s passion for writing poetry stemmed from an early obsession with song lyrics, reading and discovering the benefits of journaling. Inspired by poet/songwriters such as Jim Morrison, Jewel and Ani DiFranco, she began to find her voice, which has evolved immensely throughout her life experiences.
Over the years, she has shared her work via several blog names and has experimented with the art of spoken word. At times, she’s veered away from writing a bit to work on other creative endeavors but poetry has always been a staple and a place of healing.
More recently, she has moved her focus and research towards storytelling and activism through elements of performance and slam poetry. With this new venture, she hopes that others can relate to her stories and be inspired to start writing and sharing their own.
Your piece “Straight Lines,” won this year’s contest and your second submission “My Body Isn’t a Temple,” is an honorable mention. Please, what inspired these poems?
Straight Lines – This piece was a work in process for quite some time. As I struggled through some self esteem issues I began to delve into a different style of writing and healing. This was one of the first poems that surfaced. Soon after, it was performed at a poetry reading and has since been one of my favorites and most meaningful to date. As with all of my writings, I hope that others can relate and find the courage to overcome their insecurities as I did. (even though it is still a work in process)
We are all a work in process chile. I know I am lol. Tell us about “My Body Isn’t a Temple.” I know the title got some people like what? Ya’ll gotta read the poem though! It’s not what you think.
This piece was inspired by the Me-Too movement. So many people stood up to share their stories and I was finally able to voice mine. It was important for me to aid in bringing forth awareness towards such an important issue. I believe survivors and I am proud of them.
As the grand-prize winner you get a full interview so go ahead and get comfortable. Can I get you anything? Coffee? Tea? Water…wine?
If it’s that kind of party, some wine sounds perfect!
Yass! Here you go!
Okay. Let’s start from the top. What is your name and where are you from?
Chanelle Barnes -Fort Wayne, Indiana
What would your perfect writing / reading room look like?
Somewhere cozy with a fireplace, plants, sunshine (but no too much), lots of pillows, a record player and inspirational artwork. There would be large dormer window with a seat that overlooks an abundant forest.
Nice! That sounds really comfortable. What is the most annoying habit that you have?
I have a habit of being self-conscious and at times, too modest.
What job do you think you’d be really good at?
I think I would be a good travel blogger! Or… perhaps a wedding planner.
I can actually picture you doing both those things. Any siblings Chanelle?
I have two younger siblings, a brother and a sister. They are amazing.
Awwue. Tell me, what skills would you like to master?
Acro Yoga & Ballroom Dancing! I would also love to hone in on public speaking. No matter how many readings I do, I’m still terrified!
What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
I’ve always wanted to go to Australia, but I have also been wanting to go to a Wellness Retreat somewhere exotic! I also want to take a train ride across the states sometime.
I feel you on the public speaking! Chanelle, what is love?
Love is being your true self. Love is comfort. Love is not giving up but also, love is blind.
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 finished house would include a balcony, porch swings, fireplace, a scenic view (preferably with water), a winding staircase, a greenhouse, a large art room, a guest suite for my friends to visit whenever they’d like, a claw foot bathtub, secret passages, lots of plants, pets, a room with a glass ceiling and a telescope to view the stars and an abundance of color.
Let’s talk about writing a bit. Why is writing important to you?
To heal, inspire and release.
Having dealt with trauma at an early age (and being very shy/ introverted) I found writing to be the only way that I could sort out my thoughts and feelings in a way that made sense. Through journaling, poetry and music I felt I wasn’t alone. It wasn’t until much later, did I decide to share my writings publicly. It was at this point, that I realized I could not only express myself in this art form, but also inspire others to write and heal as I did.
Who’s your favorite writer?
Right now, I am really feeling the spoken word artist Kyle Tran Myhre (Guante). He has been a huge inspiration as I move more towards spoken word and event planning. I also have been relating to and enjoying work by Rudy Francisco and Ruby Dhal.
Love Rudy. Just finished his Helium Audiobook. Good stuff.
You said you are moving toward Spoken Word. How would you describe the difference between spoken word poetry and written poetry? How are they similar and how do they differ?
To me, I feel that a spoken word piece is better portrayed when performing and it is written as such. I also feel they tend to be a little more raw. There is more that can be expressed when using tone and body language. With written poetry, it is up to the reader’s imagination to determine the tone and flow which is also satisfying. My spoken word pieces are typically stories and my written poetry is more based on feeling and emotion. I hope that makes sense!
It does! What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The most exciting thing?
The most difficult is being vulnerable.
The most exciting is painting a picture with words and words alone.
It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there to the world, but it’s also one of the most exciting!It’s kind of like inviting others into your soul and like any art form, putting yourself out there for criticism or judgement. It’s a risk worth taking though.
I like to compare poetry with music. You know when you hear a song and it makes you feel a certain way? When you hear lyrics and you can relate or they speak to you even though you really don’t know what the songwriter was thinking when they wrote it? It’s like that. Creating an image or story for the reader or listener to take with them. It’s all about twisting words into a feeling. In the words of Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” It’s so true!
That’s one of my favorite quotes! Speaking of music, we love music on The PBS Blog. What kind of music do you like and what songs have you completely memorized?
I love all kinds of music! Mostly, I listen to music with lyrics that make me feel something or beats that make me want to dance or relax.There are many, but the first one that comes to mind is Carnival by Natalie Merchant.
Chanelle, what takes up too much of your time?
Working two jobs and taking care of my home. I wish I had more time to work on writing and other creative endeavors.
I feel you. What do you wish you knew more about?
The human mind.
What about the human mind do you find most interesting?
I’ve delved in quite a bit when I was studying for my psychology degree and I think that’s what jump-started the desire to learn more. What I’ve been most interested in is social psychology, dream analysis and mental health. The mind is like an ocean and there are so many parts left to discover!
What’s your favorite drink?
Okay Chanelle. You know I gotta mess with you. Tea is supposed to be hot lol so what’s your second favorite drink?
Haha, okay that’s fair. Let’s see… I would say my second favorite would have to be this glass of wine I’m having.
Heey. Here, let me refill that for you.
While you sip, favorite color?
If you could live in a movie, which would it be?
Across the Universe -I think I lived through the 70’s in a past life.
Chanelle, I am all about self-care and self-love. What do you love about yourself?
Resilience. My ability to rise up against anything that gets thrown my way. This life isn’t easy, but I have my strength and experiences to guide me.
Love it. Speaking of self-love, what is love?
Love is being your true self. Love is comfort. Love is not giving up but also, love is blind.
Most people think of love only in terms of “romantic” relationships and when I ask what it is, most people give me a definition based solely on that so I love that you defined it outside of that box.
I do have to ask though, you said love is blind, what does that mean?
To me, it means accepting flaws and feeling a deeper connection within the soul. In other words, it is felt, not seen.
What is truth?
An unbiased sense of self, void of outside influences.
Thank you Chanelle!
Be Sure to Follow Chanelle Barnes below and look out for both her pieces, “Straight Lines” and “My Body Isn’t a Temple” in the 2nd Edition Lit Mag Literary Magazine, 2020.
Be sure to follow @literarykornerpublishing on Instagram and Facebook for notification of the release of the 2020 Edition Lit Mag Literary Magazine for Poets where you will get to read our winning poets pieces in full AND the poems of everyone who entered this year’s contest! Be sure to also subscribe to this blog.
Welcome to the blog Buddah and congratulations!Your poem, “Claiming Victory” was so uplifting it won you the #2 spot. Please tell us, what inspired this piece?
This poem was inspired by the challenges many of us face in believing in ourselves and doing what’s necessary to fulfill our purpose and achieve our dreams. Too often we think we’re not good enough. Too often we think we don’t have what it takes to make it. Too often we allow the noise, conditioning, and all the junk we’ve been fed by external forces to negatively impact our outlook and our ability to act. When we’re able to change our mindset, own all of who we are, and shed all of which hasn’t served us, we’re unstoppable. That’s when we can embrace abundance. And claim our victory!
“People get caught up on the highs, peaks, and successes They don’t see what went down in the valleys What it took to get up, get out, and rise again It’s what we’ve been through— the periods between life’s highs and lows— that make us so resilient We can’t concede We have to keep on”
-Excerpt from “Claiming Victory.”
As one of the top winners you get a full interview so go ahead and get comfortable. Can I get you anything? Coffee? Tea? Water…wine?
Thank you. May I have water please?
Now, let’s start from the top. Why don’t you go ahead and tell us your name and where you’re from.
My name is Buddah Desmond (aka BDez). I was born in Washington, DC. Was raised in P.G. County MD (primarily in Forestville, MD and Greenbelt, MD). I currently reside in Alexandria, VA.
That’s very specific Buddah lol.
LOL, yes. I know. I can’t help it. Just call me Mr. Specificity. LOL
Soo Mr. Specificity, are you employed outside of writing?
Yes, I am a User Experience (UX) professional with over 13 years of experience crafting timely, intuitive, and forward-thinking solutions to improve the overall usability / UX of websites, apps, and services for non-profit, commercial, and government clients. My specialties include user research and analysis, user-centered design, user experience design, usability testing, content strategy, and information architecture. I’m also a health and wellness coach. Finished my masters in Nutrition and Integrative Health earlier this year. I’m in the process of completing my hours and studying to become a certified Nutritionist, and in the very early stages of starting my health and wellness coaching practice.
Wow. Congratulations on all your endeavors! With all this, what was your childhood dream?
My childhood dream (and still my dream today) was to be a Renaissance man… To be able to pull from my many talents, do work that matters, and to make a difference. I’m striving to achieve this mission still to this day.
What’s your favorite TV Show? Movie?
A number of favorites here, but one show that continues to be at the top of my list is Queen Sugar. The writing, acting, cinematography, the landscape, and the issues that are addressed with each episode—it’s phenomenal. I love everything that Ava DuVernay has done. She’s a gem. A national treasure. The epitome of Black Girl Magic! In terms of film, Black Panther has been sitting at the top of my movie list since it’s opening weekend. What an inspiring, impactful, and empowering film. A classic. Ryan Coogler did that!
He did indeed. We love music on The PBS Blog. What kind of music do you like?
Music is my first love. I come from a family that deeply loves, appreciates, and respects music. A number of us, myself included, are musically inclined. I have an eclectic taste in music. I love Jazz, R&B/Soul, Hip-Hop, Gospel, Classical, Reggae, Dancehall, Afrobeat, Latin, Country, and Rock… Music is an undeniably powerful and universal art form. Life wouldn’t be the same without it.
We agree there. Speaking of the Universe, with a name like Buddah I have to ask, religious or nah?
No, I’m not religious. I’m more of a spiritual being. I believe in the Most High… The Divine Creator of our universe that ties us all together. I’ve always been fascinated by religion though, and learning about how people worship, where they worship, their sacred texts, and the similarities / differences between the guiding principles we abide by.
Let’s talk about writing a bit. Favorite writer. Go.
These questions are always tough because it’s a rarity that I can ever narrow down to just one favorite of anything. LOL!
I knew I’d get you eventually.
Okay. I’m done. Carry on.
I have so many favorite writers. Maya Angelou. Langston Hughes. Nikki Giovanni. Sonia Sanchez. Saul Williams. James Baldwin. Toni Morrison. Alice Walker. Terry McMillan. Yrsa Daley-Ward. Nayyirah Waheed. Lucille Clifton. June Jordan. Janet Mock. Ntozake Shange. Devon Franklin. Octavia Butler. Amiri Baraka. Haki Madhubuti. Zora Neale Hurston. I could keep going, but I’ll stop there.
What genre do you write in, why?
My primary genre is poetry. I also write prose, essays, short stories, song lyrics, and blogposts. There’s a universality and musicality to the language of poetry. I couldn’t deny it when I first started reading it. And definitely couldn’t deny it when I started writing it. I think Amiri Baraka said it best, “Poetry is music, and nothing but music. Words with musical emphasis.”
I absolutely agree. It’s like poetry has this ability to bring out the depth in us in ways nothing else can.
YES! Poetry gives us the freedom to get soul-deep to tell our stories in such extraordinary ways.
Soul-deep. I like that. Yess.
The beauty is that we can each write a poem in any form about the same topic, emotion, or experience, and it can be embraced and interpreted quite differently by readers. What we as writers get out of it may be worlds away from what our readers get out of it. And that’s amazing. Truly amazing. Poetry has the power to change minds, and change lives.
When did you publish your first book? What was that like?
I self-published my first volume of poetry, Prevail: Poems on Life, Love, and Politics, in June 2012 through iUniverse. The experience was exhilarating, rewarding, frustrating, so many things. When I made the decision to publish my manuscript, I had a “no turning back” attitude. I was at a point in my life where it was imperative to go all in for the things I wanted. I couldn’t be mad at anyone but myself if I didn’t put in the effort or work to make my dreams come true. And I’m grateful I did. Publishing Prevail afforded many opportunities for growth and development, reading and speaking at a number of events, and connecting with other writers, creatives, and readers alike. Not to mention, many learning lessons about building a platform, social media, and book marketing and promotion.
What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The most exciting thing?
That’s a great question. Hmmm… The most difficult thing would be pushing through writer’s block. Or periods when you really want to write, but the muse, inspiration, or motivation is sorely lacking. The most exciting thing is the freedom of expression. Being able to create you own world or worlds. New possibilities. And the blessings of your work opening minds, speaking for those whose voices aren’t being heard, and making deep, meaningful connections with a larger audience.
Nice. Buddah, what is humility?
Humility is quiet confidence. It’s being comfortable in who you are, your abilities, and what you bring to the table without being rude, brash, egotistical, or narcissistic. It’s also about being open to change and possibilities. And knowing that your way, whatever it may be, is not the only way.
What is love?
Love is one of the greatest emotions. It’s more than just deep feelings for something or someone. It’s in the actions. It’s all in what you do (or don’t do). Love can be life changing. Life-saving even. It’s unconditional. As I wrote in a recent piece, “I am nothing without love. I am everything with love.”
Beautiful. Thank you Buddah for spending this time with us. We certainly enjoyed you.
Be Sure to Follow Buddah Desmond below and look out for his piece, “Claiming Victory” in the 2nd Edition Lit Mag Literary Magazine, 2020.
Blount is a hard working, dedicated and strong single mother who is on a journey of living through self love, self awareness and true divinity. She is seeking her true purpose and living it to make an impact on the world.
“Keep watching me I’m coming like the Lioness of the jungle
Hunting the wanting of my universal platform
Perspiring strength while I join the revolution for my evolution
Fighting my way through the shed layers of my old self”
-Excerpt from “Lioness Strength”
Kiyana! Good to have you back.
Lioness Strength is such a powerful title and we are excited to read the whole piece in next years Literary Magazine. For now, please tell us, what inspired your poem?
The major life changes that I had to endure this year led me to a path of realizing I needed to love myself more. Even though much had happened, I used those down moments to build myself back up and be the Goddess I am. Now I am working towards building my empire and legacy to leave my mark and leave for my SonShine to carry.
Right now I have my own business of promoting a healthy lifestyle and providing whole food natural products to help aid in weight loss and a healthy, natural you from the inner to the outer.
Eating healthy is big right now. How does this relate to or help you with your writing?
Working on my inner has really helped me to express externally. Taking the healthy approach along with strengthening myself spiritually and emotionally has made it easier for me to tap into my art and connect with my poetry on another level! I read my poetry and see the growth from being an unhealthy me to working towards and being closer to a better version of me inside and out.
Beautiful. Any books in the works Kiyana?
I am not a published author YET but I am working on some pieces. Peace, love and light Kings and Queens! You’ll see me soon!
You heard it here first people! Look for her. She’s coming.
When your hands are shaking so badly,
your body is an Earthquake.
When your mind is a war-zone of worry.
When uncertainty is an uninvited guest
snaking its way inside your mind
and poisoning it with doubt.
When you are weighed down by
what is not yours to carry.
When depression feels like a friend
and sadness a sister
Remind yourself that you exist.
Don’t you know purpose entered your lungs armed and ready for battle?
The universe waits for you with unparalleled patience.
A vase for your tears
An embrace for your misunderstanding.
Remember how your bones were formed and stitched together
inside someone else’s body.
Remember that you are a miracle
a divine welcome
Your mother and father’s prophecy
a spiritual alliance of their passion
their history in one body.
You are history
soil and earth
a timeless treasure.
Purpose waits for you to find the courage
to see yourself
because you exist.
You take up space
you send energy out into the world
you vibrate a frequency that someone else feels
you speak a language that someone else understands
You are the manifestation of love
And the universe commands that you jump
even when your heart is in your throat
because you are here
Have you heard? I am Soul won the Kindle Book Award for Poetry in the 8th Annual Kindle Book Award Ceremony. Because I want you to get your hands on this book without breaking the bank, I have lowered the kindle book to 99cents for a limited time. Click here to get it now.
Note: This poem is not in the book. This poem is new.