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.
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.
Introducing the winners of Yecheilyah’s 3rd Annual Poetry Contest 2019!
Chanelle Barnes snatched up the #1 spot with her piece, “Straight Lines.” We had such a challenging time deciding between both the poems she submitted that we decided to include her second poem as an Honorable Mention.
But the brothers said they will not be left out this year people!
Buddah Desmond claimed second place with his uplifting poem “Claiming the Victory.”
Don’t forget our Honorable Mentions! They didn’t come to play either. Their poems were too good to leave out. We have two returning champs from last year. Jahkazia Richardson (our #1 Winner from last year!) came with “Aya,” a powerful poem about being wrongly convicted, and Kiyana Blount (who also placed last year) crushed it with “Lioness Strength.” Dondi Springer is a newbie to the contest and he brought it with “Look Within.”
Each of our winners will be featured individually over the next few weeks. We will start with our Honorable Mentions and work our way up to the Grand Prize Winner. Barnes and Desmond are preparing for their spotlight interviews where they will tell us what inspired their poems and more on their writing journey. You don’t want to miss it!
We are doing something different this year by not publishing the poems to this blog. Instead, you can read them in the 2020 Edition of the LKP Literary Magazine for poets coming February 2020. You will also get to read poems from this year’s entrants. ALL of them!
Over the next few weeks we will promote the winners of this contest on this blog. We are kicking things off next week.
Scroll over and click that beautiful Subscribe Button for notifications of new posts so you don’t miss this. Share this post and tell your poet friends things are about to get lit on The PBS Blog. Stay glued!
To help us level up next year’s contest we are seeking help early. If you would like to sponsor a book,* writing service,* or gift cards toward the 2020 contest, please comment your email address or send me one directly at yecheilyah (at) yecheilyahysrayl dot com.
*We are only accepting Poetry Books or Inspirational/Encouraging books for sponsorship.
*Writing Service is anything that will help our winners to level-up their writing or get exposure (that is what this platform is about after all, exposing new, talented writers!) This could cover editing, cover design, formatting, a guest post on your blog, promotion to your audience, or even publishing! The more we can offer the writers the better.
You don’t have to mention my name
Waste, not your resources
Carving my initials into the ground
Or on street signs and buildings
Not near corners
where future Martin Kings
Will sell dope and brawl
Until their quarrels leak
With the accidental stench of death
Over dice games
I’m sure King didn’t expect his memory
To be synonymous with the street
At which the next ghetto is named
Remember me not this way
Not on the front of your t-shirts
And flowers as if my nose can still
In your thoughts
You don’t even have to say my name
Build no fancy statues for me
Sing no sad songs
Remember me in ink
No need to write me down
Just write me down in ink
Admit that every time
I opened my mouth
the earth moved
that I did not sugar coat
the splitting of the sky
when it birthed the rain and that yes,
I drowned a time or two
be sure to mention my mistakes.
But at least you can say that with every base in my voice
I played the truth
and that with the thrashing
of every keyboard my fingers
exposed the secret
why every heart