My Soul is a Witness, a collection of poems that reminds us that there is still hope in our darkest moments. Nothing we go through is without a purpose. No pain we suffer, and no trial we experience happens without reason. It all ministers to our education and the development of ourselves into the people we are ordained to become. It helps to cultivate in us a spirit of patience, faith, humility, and self-control.
Wherever you are in the world, welcome. I have been MIA a minute, and I’ve noticed an uptick of Freedom Readers to this blog. You guys are fantastic.
If you have not already done so, be sure to visit the About Page to learn more about me and this blog.
My name is Yecheilyah, pronounced e-SEE-li-yah, aka EC. It is a Hebrew name meaning Yah Lives. In case you are wondering, I was not born with this name. I follow in the footsteps of Maya Angelou, Ntozake Shange, Sonia Sanchez, Amiri Baraka, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Kwame Ture, and others who are not widely known by their birth names.
At some point, I imagine these people, like I, have awakened to a truth that demanded a better version of themselves and a better way of living. Not only did they strive to change their perspective on life, but they changed their names to fit the newly developed person, they became. (I am drafting an article called “The Power of Your Name,” about the vital role our name plays in author branding. I should have it ready for you sometime next week).
Speaking of growing, this blog is so much more than what it was. It is the primary platform from which I share my work and the work of others. From our home office, living room, or bedroom, we can reach people worldwide. Isn’t that amazing? While I don’t intend to blog forever, I hope what I share here serves a purpose. With so many people home now because of this global pandemic, I take my role as writer/author/blogger even more seriously than ever. I know now more than any other time the power of the written word and its capability to change lives.
This blog runs mainly by a few weekly posts you might want to know about.
The Women with Blue Eyes – I usually author poetry and black historical fiction, but I have a secret love affair with Fantasy and Sci-Fi. My first published novel (The Aftermath, 2012) was Sci-Fi. I got interested in writing in this genre after reading George Orwell’s 1984 in 2008.
The Women with Blue Eyes is a free fantasy story I have been sharing freely here on the blog. When Tina’s nephew Ronnie died, it traumatized her. It wasn’t just that he died. It was the way he died. After taking custody of Ronnie’s sisters and brother, Tina experienced supernatural phenomenons that eventually led to therapy and hallucinogenic suppressants. This didn’t help.
She meets Azbuga, an Archangel sent to tie the missing pieces together, still connecting her to Ronnie’s death.
Paschar (pu-shar), is the angel of vision, once tasked with guarding the veil between the physical world and the heavens, between consciousness and unconsciousness, between awareness and illusion. She once saw the beauty of visions from the Almighty and projected these into human consciousness. Now, she is limited, capable only of seeing physical beauty, extracting energy from mortal man, and projecting illusions. Paschar has fallen, and in a jealous rage, she attacks black men for their energy. How dare he choose them over her?
Can Tina, Jason, and Az defeat Paschar and her Legion once and for all? More black men are dying, and you can’t fight spiritual warfare with physical weapons.
This series is divided into two parts, and I am sharing freely part one, chapters 1-20. Click here to read chapters 1-17. Chapter 18 publishes next week. (Note: The Women with Blue Eyes is a Rated-R Fantasy series. You should know there is some profanity for those sensitive to cursing, and adult language).
My intent is to use this platform as a motivation for completing the series and one day turning it into a full-length novel.
Throwback Thursday Jams – If I was on the edge of a cliff, music would be one force pulling me back from jumping.
Okay, well, that’s a lil dramatic but, yea. I love music. Tee Hee.
So while I’m a serious person, I am also a silly and musical person. I love R&B and old school soul, and Thursdays are all about introducing you to some of my favorite throwback jams. Now, when I say throwback, I don’t mean that they are all technically throwbacks. I post music ranging from Old School (60-80s), the 90s (my fav), and the early 2000s. And sometimes I might post something new-ish because I just like it. Check out the Throwback Thursday category to jam out.
Black History Fun Fact Friday -Black History Fun Fact Friday is a weekly blog series of articles focused on Israelite/Black/African American history. While the title of the series includes the words “Fun Facts,” not all pieces are “fun,” in the sense that is is all positive. My intention with this series is to present black history as it is without adding to or taking away from the truth, despite how brutal or uncomfortable it may be to read.
Take Sun-Down Towns, for example. The unfortunate truth is that some all-white communities today are all-white neighborhoods because they were once sun-down towns or cities where blacks were driven out and not allowed to enter after sun-down. Read more about that here.
And while this is a weekly series, we have had no new articles in a few weeks. There’s a good reason for that, and I will let you all know about that exciting bit of news later!! In the meantime, if you would like to participate, I am still accepting black history guest blog posts for this feature. Please click here to learn how to apply.
These are some top weekly posts you can get used to. In between them, I share poetry, quotes, blog, and writing tips I call Indie Author Basics with EC based on my experience as an Independent Author.
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
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.
Richardson is an actor and poet. She is currently studying Social Work at North Carolina Central University. She appreciates going to live shows in the area as well as trying different recipes from all over the world. Currently, she is a preschool teacher where she teaches them how to play unapologically. Her poem “Aya,” is a powerful piece about wrongful convictions which we know is at the heart of the Black Lives Matter movement to date in the Black community.
“Police sirens rang in the distance like freedom, The smell of privilege and oppression filled the air, I – somehow confused the chain-linked fences With chains and handcuffs.
They say “I am under arrest,” I say, “I am innocent!” But somehow I still fit the description”
Excerpt from “Aya”
Jahkazia, your work is beautiful. Please tell us, what inspired your poem?
“I was wrongfully arrested for a crime I did not commit. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced, so I wanted to shed light on this experience.”
We asked Jahkazia to dig deeper into the experience behind her poem.
Considering the police brutality plaguing the Black community, why do you think it is important for Black writers specifically to talk about their experiences in poetry?
Black writers have to talk about their experience first hand in order to make it real. Black death has been dramatized over and over. To make it more digestible society disconnects themselves from the soul attached to the victim/survivor. Writing about our experiences makes it impossible to disconnect. This is my story. These are my words. You can not, you will not erase me.
How has writing about your own experience with a wrongful arrest helped you to heal from the experience?
Believe it or not, this was the first time I have written about it since it happened (almost 3 years ago). I would speak about it briefly, and I even did an interview with a collective of Black Femmes who wanted to know about the experience of our dealings with the police. This wound being reopened has been hard, but rewarding in the sense that it has given me an increased momentum. Since I am now a social worker, my duty is to educate, protect, and inspire – that is healing in itself.
It is indeed. I love how poetry can heal by bringing out our most deep self. Thank you for sharing this with us!
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.