This started out as something I wrote for myself. It wasn’t necessarily a poem. But I decided to turn it into something for you as well. I rewrote it in third person instead of first person. Do not be cheap with yourself. Know your worth. Know your value. Be you. Love you.
Yecheilyah (e-SEE-li-yah, affectionately nicknamed EC) is an Author, Blogger, and Poet and lives in Marietta, GA with her wonderful husband. She has been writing poetry since she was twelve years old and joined the UMOJA Poetry Society in High School where she learned to perfect her craft. In 2010, at 23 years-old, Yecheilyah published her first collection of poetry and in 2014, founded Literary Korner Publishing and The PBS blog where she enjoys helping other authors through her blog interviews and book reviews. The PBS Blog has been named among Reedsy’s Best Book Review blogs of 2017 and 2018 and has helped many authors in their writing journey. I am Soul is her fourth collection of poetry.
Today I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Tehilayah Ysrayl. Welcome to The PBS Blog! Let’s get started.
What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Tehilayah Yahqar Ysrayl. I am from Fort Wayne, Indiana.
For those who don’t know, tell us what your name means.
My name means a song of praise to Yah.
Wonderful. What would your perfect writing/reading room look like?
Oh…I have never been asked this before. Hmm. I would have to say it would be white with splashes of earth tones, you know browns, tans, and greens. I would have an oversized reading chair with a tan blanket laid across. Next to the chair would be a table that displays the current book I am reading and an always ready wine glass. Across the room would be this glass desk with an executive chair and a new computer would be waiting for me and next to it a monogrammed notebook with my name in gold, (I love notebooks). My coffee cup to keep me energized. The sunlight would beam through the room because of the sky windows and land on my beautiful bookcases. There would be a beautiful rug in the middle of the floor, maybe white to cover the cognac colored hardwood floors. In the winter I would be able to light my fireplace so that I can stay cozy while I read and write. Yesss, and there would be a sign on the door that says “leave me alone I am writing/reading”. I would have a tranquil waterfall in the corner to give it that relaxed feel. Yess, lol… I kind of went there huh?
You did but we love it. That room sounds nice! What’s your favorite food?
Mexican food, I love it. Can’t get enough. I love nachos and guacamole.
Do you have a favorite color?
It changes, right now it’s purple and burgundy. Those colors have always been royal to me.
So Tehilayah, married? Children?
I am and my hubby is awesome. We have been together for almost 16 years and married for going on 6 or 7 years. Oh, wait, I better get that right. lol. Well, we have an anniversary coming up in October. We actually celebrate 2 anniversaries. The day we met and the day we got married. I think that is why I get it all messed up, lol. Truth is I knew he was my husband 2 weeks after we met. When he finds you, you just know, hee hee hee. I do have 4 children. three boys and one girl, she’s the baby. They are the ages of 19, 17, 14 and 9.
Beautiful. What is your favorite movie or TV show?
Movie is The Matrix hands down. That has always been my favorite. I have the whole trilogy but nothing is like the first one. My favorite TV show is Underground. I really hope they bring that back soon.
I loved Underground myself. Let’s talk about writing a bit. I hear you are working on a book. Tell us about this project and what inspired you to write it.
I am. No Idle Word is my first collection of poetry.
Thank you! This project is my baby. It’s the start to a new beginning and venture. It was last year when I took to the stage and I realized that I had a voice. It was then that hubby said, “you should release a book.” I thought he was gassing me up! I was nervous and anxious but I am here, trying new things and stepping out my comfort zone. I decided to leave it all on the page.
I love “No Idle Word.” Why this title? What does it mean, “No Idle Word?”
I meditated on a title for a while. I had so many written down and scratched out. No Idle Word was my last thought. I chose this because words are living. They have the power to build up and break down. They are always moving. It’s just a matter of how you choose to use your voice.
You heard it here first people!
Now. If you had one superpower that could change the world, what would it be?
Well, my son is my go-to guru on everything superpower. But if I had to choose without his consultation it would be love. Love conquers all things. If I could touch someone one to make them feel loved and give love we could change the world one touch at a time. Make it contagious. “Don’t touch her she got that love bug.”
Love it. In your own words, what is truth?
Truth is taking off the mask and walking in the you that people don’t see. It’s the bearing of all unapologetically. Truth has never been gentle. I would say it’s the one experience that is always authentic. There’s a phrase “truth, you can’t handle the truth,” something like that. It’s true. We can’t handle the truth. Truth handles us, it refines, tears down and builds. Truth has always been the start of construction and growth within yourself.
Why is writing important to you?
Writing is the way that I can release all the ideas and thoughts that I have flowing all day and night. If I didn’t have a pen and notebook on my person I would probably be frazzled and confused all day. It’s a way that I can get whatever is on my heart and mind out so that I don’t let whatever feelings I have had throughout the day overtake me. Writing is my place of freedom.
Thank you Tehilayah for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!
Tehilayah is a poet, wife, and mother and has presented her poetry at various venues and impromptu poetry gatherings in her city. She enjoys singing, sewing, reading, wine, whiskey and, most importantly, words. Some of her favorite poets include but are not limited to, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Amiri Baraka, Countee Cullen, Sonia Sanchez, Steven Willis, and Rudy Francisco.
Tehilayah is also a voracious reader and fell in love with Urban Fiction because of Donald Goines. From there she branched off to discover other authors like Sista Soulja and the love stories that Eric Jerome Dickey brought, Carl Weber and many more. Currently, Tehilayah is enthralled in the Ashley and Jaquavis novel series. Tehilayah reads not only for the entertainment but also for the techniques in writing.
Tehilayah is working on her first book, a collection of poetry she is calling, No Idle Word. No Idle Word is about encouraging the faint at heart, providing awareness to the ignorant, and healing to the broken.
Yecheilyah (e-SEE-li-yah, affectionately nicknamed EC) is an Author, Blogger, and Poet and lives in Marietta, GA with her wonderful husband.
She has been writing poetry since she was twelve years old and joined the UMOJA Poetry Society in High School where she learned to perfect her craft.
In 2010, at 23 years-old, Yecheilyah published her first collection of poetry and in 2014, founded Literary Korner Publishing and The PBS blog where she enjoys helping other authors through her blog interviews and book reviews.
The PBS Blog has been named among Reedsy’s Best Book Review blogs of 2017 and 2018 and has helped many authors in their writing journey. I am Soul is her fourth collection of poetry.
Today concludes our spotlight of the runner-ups and grand prize winner of our 2nd Annual Poetry Contest 2018. Choosing winners from such talented writers was not easy so we hope that you have enjoyed our spotlight series on these beautiful sistas. Brothers! No worries, there are poems written by men that will be part of the magazine, no doubt.
Speaking of which, don’t forget to look out for the coming Magazine which will not only feature the ladies you’ve seen this past week but also our poets who didn’t place but whose poems also struck a chord with us. As badly as we want to profile them, we can’t give away all the goodies! But trust, these poems will blow your mind as well.
Introducing Jahkazia Part Two
Okay Jae. Go ahead and reintroduce yourself for those who didn’t meet you yesterday. What is your name and where are you from?
Hi! My name is Jahkazia Richardson, and I am from Bull City (Durham, NC).
What is the most annoying habit that you have?
Ugh, I feel like I collect everything! I have a problem with throwing away things with sentimental value. I have more clothes and things in my apartment that I care to mention for that very reason.
It’s hard to throw stuff away for real. Any siblings?
I have one little brother who is 20.
We know you can write but what was your childhood dream?
When I was 10 years old, I wanted to open a restaurant called “Big Momma’s Kitchen.” I believe I wrote out a business plan, menu, and everything. I still want that restaurant actually – just under a different name. Coming soon! Send me some juju, please!
Lol. Okay. Speaking of food, what’s your favorite? (I like “Big Momma’s Kitchen” by the way!)
I am an EXTREME foodie, so everything is my favorite. If I had to choose just one thing, I would say Jamaican Jerk Chicken – extra sauce.
Yaass. Love jerk. That’s favorite food, color?
This is so easy! Yellow. It’s the same color as my favorite flower – the sunflower. Oh, and it looks good on my melanated skin so that is a plus.
If you could shadow your favorite artist, who would it be?
Jill. Scott. Jilly from Philly. She has inspired me so much from her transparency, style, and confidence. There were not many artists that looked like me growing up, so looking up to her as a 5 years old felt like a dream.
I can so get a Jill Scott vibe from you! Speaking of music, what kind of music are you into?
My music taste is definitely a melting pot! Most of music playlist consists of mostly R&B, Neo-soul, and hip-hop. I think that’s why I’m always in my feelings. *haha*
Lol. Single? Married? Do we see children in your future?
I’m in a relationship right now. Yes, I cannot wait to be married one day but no, I am nowhere ready for a little one right now. Sometimes I have a little baby fever. Then, there are times when I see a child and want to run, so it’s a tossup.
Lol. Jae, we like to be informational on this blog so tell us, what do you wish you knew more about?
I wish I knew more about music. I have such a deep appreciation for the craft, but I sincerely wish I could turn back the hands of time and learn how to play and read music.
Do you have a favorite TV show?
I love “Chopped” which is the show where you get a few random items and have to make a marvelous meal.
I can dig it. I like Top Chef myself. Religious?
I have tried all my life to me a religious person, but I haven’t found a good fit yet. I am very much a spiritual being. I have healing crystals and sage everywhere.
Be careful with that. I’ve heard some bad things about those healing crystals and sage. Let’s switch things up a little bit. After all, we are here because of your writing. Why is writing important to you?
I grew up extremely, extremely shy and insecure. Writing was my only outlet in order to deal with my mental health issues. Writing was how I processed my worry, pain, and suffering in a way that turned chaos into beauty. In eighth grade, I became an entirely different person when I started reciting in slams, and it built my broken confidence. Being able to have the opportunity to express myself in that way changed my life forever.
Your poem is about knowing your self-worth so tell us, what is it that you love about yourself?
Even with my past self-confidence issues I have always appreciated and loved my loyalty to other people. No matter how folks treated me, I have always been there for them and loved them through it all. I guess it is a double-edged sword, but I love loving others.
That’s what’s up. Jahkazia, thanks so much for spending this time with us!
This week we are spotlighting the winners of the 2nd Annual Poetry Contest! For the next two days, you’ll get to learn more about our grand prize winner.
Jahkazia reminded me that it’s never too late. How so? Because her poem came in exactly one minute to the deadline of this contest and won the entire competition. If she had thought, “maybe it’s too late,” then we would not get to meet and learn more about this beautiful soul. Let’s get into it.
Introducing Jahkazia Richardson
Jahkazia (Jah-kay-asia which translates to Goddess of the land) is a slam poet hailed from Durham, NC. She studied Clinical Psychology at William Peace University and will be continuing her vocational path in Art and expressive therapy next fall. She appreciates going to live shows in the area as well as trying different recipes from all over the world. Currently, she is an insurance agent in ‘Bull City’ where she teaches clients how to protect their financial assets.
Welcome Jahkazia! So nice to meet you beautiful. We almost didn’t get to witness your beautiful writing and voice. Please, tell us what inspired your poem.
Jahkazia: In my darkest moments, I saw myself as a victim for a long time, and I always had a pretty negative outlook on life. When things got cleared up, I truly felt more powerful than I have ever felt before. My inspiration for my piece was a deep reflection of my overall growth and healing journey as well as wanting to honor my ancestors in their struggle to find their own power also.
We’re going to stop here because tomorrow we will go a bit deeper into the mind of Ms. Richardson. For now, let’s get into this poem!
Thunder that cracked like the whip on the back of my ancestors
Too bad I didn’t have their strength
Head hung low and shallow
my back hunched and broken.
How did I get here?
Words that cut deep into my skin like razors,
But I didn’t let anyone see me bleed
Times that I would cut into my own self
with the perpetuation of my thoughts
Lies that I would tell the little girl inside myself
Cut – excise the light from their eyes
Until darkness became my reality
Pain my reality
Depression my reality
Shujaa – warrior
Ripped out, open, and beaten.
Boom, boom, boom, I’m an African drum
Don’t let them see you break
Don’t let them see you bleed
Wrap them like the bastard’s child away and out of sight
Until the blood began to drip through
Until the universe can no longer ignore my cry
Cry like – negro spirituals echoing through the Earth and waking up the light
Somehow there was refuge in my brokenness
Deep in the soul of my being,
Up I came from the waters and introduced my light
Shujaa – warrior
Shujaa – strength
That’s me powerful with my pen and I write:
“Thunder thighs was my name growing up,
I hear thunder that cracked like the whip on the back of my ancestors
Passed down like tales they used to speak,
I now know that power
I am worthy. I am warrior.”
Whew. That’s some powerful stuff. I highlighted some of the lyrics that really spoke to me. What did I like about this poem and why did I think it was worthy of the win?
Self-love is a journey and a journey is called that because you never know what you will find. It’s not always about being where you want to be but the journey. It’s about the process and all of the challenges and emotions that come along with it and the willpower to endure those challenges and to overcome those emotions.
This piece embodied the personal touch that all of the poems had. It was set-apart in that it told the story of how one person went from self-hatred to self-love in a deeply honest way. This is not just someone who had conquered the demon of self-hatred, but someone who had fought it and could show that fight in words. Someone who had gone through the journey and had fought to reclaim that power. This is a fight we’ve all had and this poem showcased that process. You get to see someone who did not just suddenly arrive but who evolved and endured the way we all do when we are coming home to ourselves. At some point, we have all asked ourselves, “What if I knew My Worth?”
Very well done.
Be Sure to Follow Jahkazia Online!
Facebook: Jahkazia Richardson
Tomorrow, we will be asking Ms. Richardson some more questions and learning more about her as a person with an extensive introduction interview. You don’t want to miss this. Stay glued.
Missed our other poet spotlights? Please be sure to show our winners some love: