The Enemy of Poetry

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I am not at all surprised I am enjoying Cicely Tyson’s memoir, Just as I am. While I am not an actor,* I try to learn as much as I can from others. Even if it’s reading a book, I want to know what brought us together and what purpose I might piece together that we are intended to serve to each other.

I have had this post sitting in my drafts since the beginning of May. It wasn’t until I read this chapter last night I could finish it and feel comfortable publishing it.

In Chapter Ten, Center Stage, Miss Cicely is recounting her training with Vinnette Carroll playwright, actress, theater director, and the first black woman to direct on Broadway, with her 1972 production of the musical Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope

In discussing art, Miss Cicely (I like saying that) explains in just a few short sentences everything I want to convey in this post. 

“Vinnette taught me to learn technique and then to forget it–and to resurrect it only if it served my portrayal. Technique is important, to the extent that it is undergirded by emotion. I once knew an actress who was a brilliant technician, but her portrayal fell flat. She could create a moment and bring it to fruition, yet it was apparent she wasn’t feeling anything, and as a result, neither was her audience.”

Cicely Tyson, Just as I am, Chapter Ten, pg. 156-57

“Technique is important, to the extent that it is undergirded by emotion.”

I never consider myself an expert on anything. I will say what I have come to know in my experience, both as a writer and listener of poetry, is to watch out for intellect. By intellect, I mean the need to be so fancy you confuse the reader. It is, in my opinion, similar to using technique and forgetting emotion.

That is why I often feel that intellect, if not used in balance with emotion, passion, and heart, is the enemy of sound poetry.

“Watch out for intellect,
because it knows so much it knows nothing
and leaves you hanging upside down,
mouthing knowledge as your heart
falls out of your mouth.”

Anne Sexton, The Complete Poems

I have read poetry so over my head I could not possibly relate to it. Metaphors and similes were so puzzling I am not even sure Maya Angelou could decipher what the poet meant if she were alive. I once read a poem that ended with the author saying he or she had eaten a bird. I do not know who or what the bird symbolized. All I know is a bird at the beginning that ended up eaten by the end of the poem.

Poor bird.

I did feel sorry for the bird to this poet’s credit, so I was not without emotion completely. It is not lost on me that readers can discover their own meanings and interpretations of poems, which is part of the fun. We learn what the author intended for the poem to communicate and what we got from it based on our personal experiences and feelings. I love hearing how a poem I’ve written resonated with readers, even if what they got from it was different from what I thought as I wrote it.

But, I like to think reading and writing is a partnership. While the first person our writing serves is ourselves, I would hope there is something to be gained by the reader too. I don’t want to get so wrapped up in the beauty of language that there is no substance, just pretty words. I expressed this in the poem Give Me Life.

To me, this would be similar to the woman Tyson references, who was a brilliant technician when acting but could not move her audience.

If you know anything about me by now, you know I am a Black Movie Buff. It’s like Justice said in Poetic Justice about having something deep to say, about having a voice.

Lucky: “What you write about in that notebook?”

Justice: “That’s my poetry.”

Lucky: “You trying to say my cousin’s shit ain’t poetry?”

Justice: “It ain’t if he ain’t got nothing deep to say. Gotta have a voice. A perspective.”

Intellect can be a strength or it can be a weakness.

If there is an easier way to say something, write it plainly, and it will reveal its own depth. I like to write the poem as it comes to me and then come back later to dress it up. Ain’t nothing wrong with a little icing once you have the cake.

Here is another quote I picked up from the quote of the day from author and editor Shayla Raquel’s newsletter, which I also just read yesterday.

“Your writing voice is the deepest possible reflection of who you are. The job of your voice is not to seduce or flatter or make well-shaped sentences. In your voice, your readers should be able to hear the contents of your mind, your heart, your soul.” 

— Meg Rosof

*I said at the beginning of this post I was not an actor. I should say I am not a professional actor, as I do have some experience with it. In High School, I was part of a special program to write and perform plays. I cannot remember the program’s name or what the aim was, but this was my first official summer job. I did this for the summer of my Sophomore and Junior year, taking an official drama class my senior year, where I would also perform my poetry live for the first time as a monologue. In 2015, I was featured in a stage play at the DuSable Museum.

But as I reflect, fun as it was, I prefer to write the screenplay. Ya’ll can do the acting.


Yecheilyah's 4th Annual Poetry Contest

Have you entered this year’s poetry contest? I hope I gave you some inspiration! Take your time but keep your eyes on the clock. June will be here before you know it.

Submit your love poem on or before June 1st.

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

Note: I have not read any of the poems submitted yet! I don’t read any of the poems until the contest has ended and everything is in.

Yecheilyah’s 4th Annual Poetry Contest 2021: Rules, Guidelines, and Prizes


Yecheilyah’s 4th Annual Poetry Contest 2021

Theme: LOVE

This year’s theme is love. The difference between this year and our first year is this is not only about self-love or romantic love. You can certainly talk about self-love or the love of your life, but you can also talk about the love for family, the love for a hobby or career path, truth, history, and so on.

The grand prize this year is HUGE, so I am looking for some dopeness. If the poem doesn’t move me, I’m not accepting it, so bring your A-game. This is year four, and we are not accepting anything less than our best so let’s goooo!!

Here is a snippet of a poem from author and poet Jayla John on love. Let it inspire you!

“What love touches heals. What love reaches feels. What love bows to kneels. Love glances at sewage and turns it sacred. Love turns slander into praise. Love is a sacred storyteller. Love destroys all castles, drains all moats, rubbles royalty and thrones. Love answers. Prayers. Poetry. Passion fires. Love revolts. Love constantly births. Lets go. Remembers. Wakes your embers. Love is not romantic blindness. It is searing vision. Love sees. Love kills what is already dying, diseased, polluted, corrupted. Love makes all things new. Love is not in you. You are in love. And all of this is love.” –  Jalya John, Author of Freedom.

Submissions Accepted:

Thursday, April 1st – Tuesday, June 1, 2021 

*If your poem is ready, go ahead and submit it!*

Winners Announced: Wednesday, September 1st and 6th 2021*

*The 2nd-4th Place Winners are announced 9/1 with the Grand Prize Winner announced on 9/6.

Guidelines

  • The poems submitted must be original work. This means that the poems must be written by you. If we find a poem that resembles any previously published poem in any way that poet will be disqualified from the competition. Please send the poem as a Word Doc attachment, 12p font with your name on the document.
  • The poem must not be previously published in a book or anywhere online (including your blog)
  • The contest will be judged based on writing, style and how closely the poem adheres to the theme. This year’s theme is LOVE. Keep in mind this isn’t limited to romantic type love. You can also write about love for family, love for the creator, love for a passion or hobby, self-love, e.g.
  • All poets are welcomed to enter regardless of race, religion, political views or location. All poems must be written in English and there will be no shipments of books outside of the U.S. If a poet wins this competition and their residence is outside of the U.S., any prize requiring shipping (if any) will be awarded in digital form. Ex. Ebooks instead of paperbacks.
  • All poets must be at least 18 years of age to enter.
  • There is a $5 Entry Fee to enter the competition. This will help go toward the sponsoring of the prizes for the winners (See Below). If you are a member of the email list your fee is waived. If you would like your fee waived, sign up  HERE and email your poem to enter. Anyone who subscribes only to unsubscribe before the competition is complete (any time before the winners are announced) will be disqualified for the win. Any subscription that has not been made before 11:59pm EST on June 1st will  be disqualified.
  • Authors of the winning poems grant Yecheilyah of Yecheilyah Books LLC and Literary Korner Publishing the right to publish their winning poem on her blog located at www.thepbsblog.com. Permission is granted upon entry of the contest for publishing to The PBS Blog. The poets retain all rights and copyrights of their own work.
  • Multiple entries to this contest are allowed. If submitting multiple poems there is a 2-poem max.
  • Entry is taken as acceptance of ALL of these guidelines.

Submission Instructions:

Click THIS link to pay the entry fee.

Or Click on THIS link and subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list.

This will automatically give your name and email address.

*If you are already subscribed to my list you are halfway there! Just email me your poem*

Once you’ve paid the entry fee OR subscribed to the list, please send your poem(s) to yecheilyah@yecheilyahysrayl.com.

Submissions are accepted NOW through June 1st 2021.

Winners are announced September 1st and 6th, 2021 on The PBS Blog and across social media.

Video submissions are welcomed! This is a chance for you to get creative.

Prizes:

2nd, 3rd, 4th Place Prizes

  • $25 Amazon Giftcard nested inside a specialty gift box. The card has no fees and no expiration date and is redeemable towards millions of items storewide at Amazon.com (ecards for International Winners)
  • Signed Copy of I am Soul + My Soul is a Witness + Matching Bookmarks (ecopies for International Winners)
  • Writing Journal and Diamond Pen
  • Poem Published to The PBS Blog at thepbsblog.com (exposure to over 3100 subscribers)
  • Interview on The PBS Blog at thepbsblog.com (exposure to over 3100 subscribers)
  • Social Media Promotion Across All Platforms (IG, Twitter, FB)

1st Place Winner / The Grand Prize

The first-place winner receives everything under 2-4th place with an exclusive publishing package courtesy of Yecheilyah Books LLC’s publishing arm Literary Korner Publishing. Yes, you heard me right! I will finance the publishing of your next (or first!) poetry ebook. As the grand prize winner, you get the following (in addition to everything else):

  • Book Cover Design (ebook only)
  • Copyediting
  • ISBN Assignment
  • Digital Format for e-readers such as Kindle
  • KDP Set-Up
  • PreOrder Set-Up (Optional)

The most exciting thing about this prize is I will work with you one-on-one every step of the way so you can know what to do the next time you want to publish a book. I am not here to fish for you. I am here to teach you how to fish so you can keep eating.


Let’s GOOO!!

Deadline to Submit is 6/1/2021

Yecheilyah’s 1st Annual Poetry Contest Winners 2017

Yecheilyah’s 2nd Annual Poetry Contest Winners 2018

Yecheilyah’s 3rd Annual Poetry Contest Winners 2019

Yecheilyah’s 3rd Annual Poetry Contest 2019: Winners Revealed

Introducing the winners of Yecheilyah’s 3rd Annual Poetry Contest 2019! 


CONGRATULATIONS Y’ALL!

 

Copyright© 2019 Chanelle Barnes

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!

Copyright© 2019 BuddahDesmond

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.

Yecheilyah’s 3rd Annual Poetry Contest Winners: Friday is the Day!


Friday, November 1st is here and we are announcing the winners of this year’s poetry contest. The winners are notified ahead of time so we can prepare their interviews, but I will swear them to secrecy (lol) until we make the announcement.

We have selected 2 winners (1st and 2nd place) and four honorable mentions.

But that’s not all.

Please be sure to check your email if you entered a poem for the 2019 contest to learn more and for further instructions on what to do next.

As a reminder:
The 1st Place Grand-Prize Winner will be awarded the following:
  • $50 Barnes and Noble Giftcard
  • Publishing in the 2020 2nd Edition Literary Korner Publishing Magazine for Poets
  • Publishing and Author Spotlight Interview on Yecheilyah’s Blog (over 2900 subscribers, 70k views a week)
  • Spotlight across Yecheilyah’s social media
  • Spotlight in Yecheilyah’s email list
  • Signed copy of I am Soul with matching bookmark

 

2nd Place Awarded the following:

  • Publishing in the 2020 2nd Edition Literary Korner Publishing Magazine for Poets
  • Publishing and Author Spotlight Interview on Yecheilyah’s Blog (over 2900 subscribers, 70k views a week)
  • Spotlight across Yecheilyah’s social media
  • Spotlight in Yecheilyah’s email list
A digital version of the 2020 Literary Korner Publishing Digital Magazine will be available February 2020 featuring the winning poems. The Print version will be available fall of 2020. We will not feature the winning poems on the blog this year because they are featured in the magazine.

If you have not already purchased this year’s LitMag of our 2018 winners you can do so HERE. Your support helps to sponsor this and future contests. Thanks to everyone who contributed so far!

Okie dokie. We will see who wins on Friday! 


MogulCon 2019 | Atlanta Marriott Perimeter Center Ballroom

I learn something new every time I vend. This weekend’s MogulCon event was about learning, networking and allowing things to flow. It also further solidified my belief that vending is more about discoverability than profit. I met two wonderful ladies and we proved to be a good fit for helping each other in an area I had been praying about for some time. To learn more about the pros and cons of author vending click here.

#LitMag Poetry Magazine 2019 is LIVE

LitMag 2019: Vol 1, Issue 1


Poetry is all around us. It’s in the wind’s whistle, the chirping of the birds, the kiss of a loved one. Poetry is my husband’s scent and my mother’s smile. We would like to welcome you to the first issue of the Literary Korner Publishing Magazine (LitMag) for poets. LitMag publishes once a year and is inspired by Yecheilyah’s Annual Poetry Contests featuring poems written by the talented authors who have entered and won from the previous year. As you read, we ask that you think about what it means to love yourself, deeply and authentically.

These are not lullabies or children’s tales. What you are about to witness is each poet’s personal testimony on the transformational power and strength of self-worth. “There was refuge in my brokenness,” says grand prize winner Jahkazia Richardson. “Deep in the soul of my being, I awakened.” As you read, we ask that you think about these lyrics and we hope these poets’ words will help you come home to yourself. “I reverse engineer my collapse,” says Nailah Shami, second place runner-up, “with unhurried tithes to myself.”

Your support helps fund the poetry contest so we can do this year after year.

>>>Get it in Digital or Print<<<

*Free digital version when you get it in print!
Perks: Digital gives you a PDF and web browser version of the Mag.
Print gives you a PDF and web browser version as well as a hardcopy shipped to you. The print copy is a heavy-duty, high-quality booklet in full color. Standard magazine size at 8.25”x10.75”, 54 pages and perfect bound. Ships in sturdy protective cardboard packaging to protect during shipping.

*When sharing about the magazine on sm be sure to use the hashtag #LitMag! Thanks so much.

To be featured in next year’s edition, be sure you are participating in this year’s contest! Click Here for full details on entry, prizes, and guidelines.

poetry contest

Poet Spotlight – 2-Day Special: Grand Prize Winner | Jahkazia Richardson Part 1

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 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.

Beautiful.

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!

What if I Knew My Worth?

Copyright©Jahkazia Richardson

Thunder thighs was my name growing up,

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

That’s me.

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 likenegro spirituals echoing through the Earth and waking up the light

Somehow there was refuge in my brokenness

Deep in the soul of my being,

I awakened

Like sunrise

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.”

From Yecheilyah…

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!

IG: @chamelaninaire 

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:

Click Here for Kiyana Blount

Click Here for Nia Elise

Click Here for Nailah Shami

Winners and Runner-ups! | Yecheilyah’s 2nd Annual Poetry Contest 2018

 

First, congratulations to ALL of the poets who entered this year’s contest and to those who sent us the required information in case of a win! You certainly did not come to play! My judges and I have read and reread and read again! Some of your poems had us reading out loud and going over each line. Thank you so much for pouring out your heart and soul.

We have read EVERY single entry MORE than once!

We had not one, not two, but three sets of eyeballs on this thing!

The poems were so good that we are STILL choosing a few of the poems that didn’t place to feature in our debut online magazine!

How it Works

Tomorrow, August 23, 2018, we will profile our 4th place winner, Friday, our 3rd place, Saturday our 2nd place and then finally, Sunday AND Monday we will be featuring our Grand Prize Winner and learning more about the poet and the winning poem.

Below are the names of the winners and the names of their poems. Remember, over the next few days, we will be profiling each of them separately so make sure you are staying glued. You’ll learn more about them and read their poems.


Our Runner-Ups will Receive:

 

CONGRATS ARE IN FOR


4th Place (3rd Runner-Up)

Kiyana Blount for Clouded Container

YASS!

3rd Place (2nd Runner-Up)

Nia Elise for Self-Love

YASS!

2nd Place (1st Runner-Up)

Nailah Shami for Loving Myself Full

YASS!

******************

Our Grand-Prize Winner will Receive:

  • $50 Amazon Giftcard nested inside a specialty gift box, no fees, no expiration date, and redeemable towards millions of items storewide at Amazon.com

  • Signed paperback copy of I am Soul poetry book by Yecheilyah Ysrayl

  • 1 Writing Custom Designed Journal and matching pen to encourage your writing journey!

  • Publication in our online Magazine

  • Publication and Promotion on this blog and SM, email list, and across social media

  • Special Individual Blog Promotion + Interview

 

AND NOW….

DRUMM ROLL

ANOTHER DRUMM ROLL

OKAY OKAY! 🙂

*

*1st Place, Grand Prize Winner*

Jahkazia Richardson for

What If I Knew My Worth

YASSS!

CONGRATULATIONS ALL OF YOU!!

BUT WE ARE NOT DONE…


WE STILL HAVE A FEW POEMS THAT WILL MAKE IT INTO OUR MAGAZINE!

POEMS OUR JUDGES ALSO FOUND AMAZING:

 

S.R. Graham, Love in its Simplest Form

Olayemi Ifeoluwa, On Self-Love

Zerahyah, Reflection

Khaya Ronkainen, Running Brook

 

You will get to read their poems soon. Stay glued for details on the mag debut.

A Word from Yecheilyah…

I just want to say that I am so proud of these poets. It’s something refreshing and authentic about reading someone’s words and seeing the beauty of the person without having seen their faces or knowing much about their life. When we decided on the winners we didn’t know what these writers looked like or what their lives were like, just their words on the page. When their photos and bios came in it was heartwarming for me personally. We did not intend to choose all women for our finalists. We were so focused on the poems (they had us studying child!) that we didn’t stop to think about race or gender or any of that. Personally, I think that’s what I enjoyed the most about this contest. It was all about the heart and what spoke to the judges the most and I cannot wait until you get to read their poems! Here’s to many more contests to come. Let’s do it bigger next year! Yess.

I can’t leave without extending a special thank you to all of the women who made this contest possible:

Lisa W. Tetting
Dr. K.E. Garland
Tinzley Bradford
Tehilayah Ysrayl

Thanks beautifuls! Guys, please be sure to support their work. They are all so powerful in their own right. Click on their names to visit their sites.

Best,

-Yecheilyah

Host, 2nd Annual Poetry Contest

Runner-Ups, our sponsors will be in contact with you shortly on your gifts!

The rest of you, be sure to return to learn more about our winners.

 

Thursday, 8/23 – Kiyana Blount
Friday, 8/24 – Nia Elise
Saturday, 8/25 – Nailah Shami
Sunday + Monday, 8/26-27 – Jahkazia Richardson