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.
I’ve been working on this collection of poetry since I released I am Soul three years ago. So much as happened in that time that most of this year feels like it happened years ago. It feels like Kobe Bryant died in 2019, but then I remember that tragedy happened earlier this year. I have to remind myself that Kobe’s death is how we opened the year!
It feels like I went to Spain for the first time last year, and then I realize that it was just this past February.
Sometimes, it feels like Friday, and then I remember it is only Tuesday. I find myself looking at the calendar more just to remind myself what day it is.
This is 2020.
The most significant change is the COVID-19 pandemic. Usually, we focus on our individual struggles, trials, and tribulations, so it’s funny to think about the world around us being just as chaotic as our internal struggles. As if a global, deadly virus isn’t enough, the rest of the world is just as upside down.
Black men and women continue to be gunned down in the streets. Historical monuments are being demolished as people awaken to the truth of its origin. The traditional school experience for our babies is all but gone. Sports games do not have an audience.
Oh, and we are all walking around wearing masks and shaming people for not being “productive,” enough during a pandemic.
*Queue George Orwell’s 1984*
We are eight months into 2020, and I sense we haven’t seen anything yet.
But there is always hope.
There is no better time than to release this collection amid such a revolutionary era. Revolution only means change, and while most of the changes we’ve seen have been negative, there is a lot of good happening too. The good is harder to see because hope doesn’t make the news, but like the wind, it is there. I had my first school visit this year, where I spoke to 15 ELA classes about writing. I also had my first keynote invite and welcome this year by the Queenz Circle of ATL Bookclub before the pandemic took away the freedom of face-to-face events.
A lot has happened this year not just for me but also for you, so here’s what I’ve learned.
I’ve learned 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 Yah ordained us to be. It helps to cultivate in us a spirit of patience, faith, humility, and self-control.
I hope these poems are a reminder that in our darkest moments, there is still hope. And I hope this collection will invigorate and renew your soul.
Do not set out to write a poem. Strip yourself of all the education you think will make you a good writer, and undress all the fluff you believe constitutes a good poem. Write only what is in your heart at this exact moment—every thread of thought and every emotion you have not the courage to feel out loud. Write this. That thing you are afraid to say. Write that. Approach the page vulnerable. Come open. Come raw. Come wounded or come healed, but come bared of what you think poetry is and become the poem instead. Write accurately and precisely every sentiment you have bottled up inside. In writing what is in the most sacred part of your being, and the most intense sections of your soul, you may unintentionally stumble on something beautifully authentic.
Handsome does not conjure the strength succulent enough
to uncover the sun underneath his skin.
Shame on those who sexualize him.
Who sees his body as cheap and public.
Who does he think he is, being darker than a brown paper bag?
Sometimes they notice him
like the sun swinging in the sky
and still, he is only handsome for a dark-skinned guy.
They do not know that he is the color of the gods.
I will describe him the intensity of ebony
a precious rarity.
How’d he get so lucky?
Who bathed him in sunlight?
This black hardwood-colored flesh.
He is black keys on a piano.
Play a song for me.
Whisper truth through lips thick and sensual
remarkably soft and pliable.
This espresso-colored body.
Dangerous when diluted.
Potent when raw.
They do not know any better.
How do you greet someone so breathtakingly gorgeous?
It will take them a minute to get used to the truth.
That not even the bite of winter can dare diminish
Book Review “I am Soul” by the imcomparable Yecheilyah Ysrayl #RRBC #RWISA
FOREMOST, It has been a long time my friends but I hope you all have remained safe and healthy. This is a crazy time we are living in right now. I have fallen behind in reviewing some incredible books and collections due my work life as a Social Worker and Inpatient Program Manager. I wish to thank everyone who has reached out to me or sent warm wishes during this health scare that is surrounding us all. I do apologize if my silence has worried anyone or caused them concern.
My first review is a beautiful poetry and prose anthology by the beautiful Yecheilyah Ysrayl. I happened upon her through the wonder Rave Reviews Book Club #RRBC and #RWISA.
Before I go into my review, please read more about Yecheilyah Ysrayl and her collection “I am Soul”