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!
Dondi A Springer is a happily married man and has been writing for a lifetime. At 43-years-young he never took writing seriously until his wife told him he should do something with it. “I was mostly inspired by the strength of my mother,” he says, “and also my own life experiences. As a champion of the underdogs, I strive to constantly grow, and show that through personal growth anything is possible.”
We are certainly glad you kept writing Dondi!
“Faith has already brought you farther than you can see
You crawled before you walked, bumped your head, and scraped those knees
Tears burning, blurring your vision, and yet wiped from your cheeks..”
-Excerpt from “Look Within”
Springer’s submission, Look Within is a short inspiring piece about looking within to find the strength that we need.
Dondi, please tell us what inspired your poem.
“My personal mantra is Ignorance Does Not Open Doors (I.D.N.O.D.), and ignorance did not overcome me. You can find plenty of positive energy, and motivation on my social media pages, and stay tapped in for what’s coming next for me.”
Springer has had poems published by the National Library of Poetry and is working hard on several projects.
Keep in touch with Dondi by following him online at the Social Media handles below!
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.
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.
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.
I’m Laura DiNovis Berry and I grew up in Lititz, PA, a town that once had its own chocolate factory and now draws famous musicians in.
Yess to chocolate. What genre do you write in, why?
I primarily write poetry. I dabble in short stories, but poetry is like painting with words and there’s something about verse that constantly drives me to keep pushing myself to improve in that arena.
Got another poet in the house ya’ll. When did you publish your first book? What was that like?
I self-published my first poetry chapbook, Bright Pink Ink, right before my wedding last year. It was extremely liberating. I was planning a wedding and a move from Pennsylvania to Texas so having the ability to channel some of my frustrations and nerves into that book provided me with a fantastic stress reliever.
Congrats on the book AND wedding! Laura, are you employed outside of writing?
I am! I have had the pleasure of working and learning from a wide variety of jobs. Currently I work as a Drama Teacher and work with children all the way from kindergarten up to high school. On the whole, it has been a wonderful experience.
I love teaching children. What’s the best thing about working with children?
There is nothing like working with human beings who have only been alive for a few years!
Their take on everything is fascinating. They can be exceptionally mean and fabulously kind – the reminder that they are still learning how to function in this world is sobering, but makes me feel extremely privileged to be a part of that growth. It can also result in some hilarious situations like having the kids be convinced that your hair is a wig since you’ve cut it short. I had to let my class of six year old tug on it to verify.
I understand also you write free poetry book reviews? Tell us about that.
I do! Book reviews are desperately needed in the poetry community so I created Berry’s Poetry Book Reviews last year. This is a platform for poets so they may reach out to a broader audience! The reviews I provide are free but I donate 10% of of my earnings and donations from patrons to a non-profit organization every year. Last year the beneficent of of these program was the Kennett Square Garage & Youth Center, an after school program which aims to empower middle and high school youth. This year, our combined efforts will be helping Lambda Literary!
Outside of writing, what are some of your passions?
Rugby has had a grip on me since college. Right now I play with the Corpus Christi Clams Women’s Rugby Club. I will be moving soon, sadly, but I have actually begun working on a full poetry collection inspired by the female rugby player’s experience so I don’t think I’ll be able to stop playing any time soon!
Alright now so we got another book in the works. 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 husband would sniff at this, but there’s a very good chance it would end up looking like an earth witch’s hobbit hole.
It would be warm, cozy and lead out into a garden filled with vegetable, guarded by maple trees.
Okay that sounds better. Scared us there a moment. What skill do you think you’ve mastered?
Oh, that’s easy. The skill of being ridiculous.
Lol. Care to explain? What’s ridiculous about you?
Well, I am generally known to be silly – it is not an uncommon occurrence for me to start dancing…wherever really. I like to have a good time and make people laugh.
Yea, laughing is lit. Does blogging help you to write?
It does and it doesn’t. It helps in the sense that I practice different forms of writing (more journal-esque writing), but it hurts because I distract myself from working on my poetry.
Understood. Laura, life is not always pretty. We all experience hardship every now and again. What is your best advice for reducing stress?
Exercise – it doesn’t even have to be anything intense. Just the other night my husband and I were in, not quite a fight, let’s say more of a spat, but walking – taking a nice walk outside together – really helped both of us calm down and better engage with each other.
Nice. What do you love about yourself?
My parents once said I don’t know the concept of failure, and I think that is definitely something that I love about myself.
Thank you Laura for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!
Laura DiNovis Berry recognizes that poetry is a near magical craft that she will never fully understand but will forever be held in fascination by it. When she is not working on her own poetry, she provides free book reviews for her fellow contemporary poets.
We are so excited to meet all the amazing poets who will be entering this year’s contest! Prizes include a $50 Barnes and Noble gift-card, promotion, and publishing in our 2nd Edition, 2020 Poet Magazine. Below are some tips and best practices for bettering your chances of winning this contest! (For the video version of this post, go to my IG account and watch the EcTV version!)
Make sure your poem lines up with the theme surrounding one of these words: Strength, Courage, Wisdom, Faith (Read the rules).
To qualify as entry you MUST subscribe to my email list. CLICK HERE to sign up. Then, go ahead and send your poem to firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t rush to write your poem and forget to sign up for the email list. Last year’s winner got her poem in just before the deadline and won the entire competition so take your time and do it right. The best way to remember is to sign up for the email list first and then spend the rest of the time writing your poem. (Read the rules)
Deadline for entry is August 1st. Winners announced November 1st. (Read the rules)
Poems are judged based on ORIGINALITY, style, and how closely it relates to the theme. Poems cannot be previously published in a book or online and plagiarism is cause for immediate elimination.
Pay Attention to the theme: If you submit a poem that is not about Strength, Courage, Wisdom, or Faith in some capacity you put yourself at risk for elimination. Why? Because poems that don’t follow the rules are one of the first to go. My team has to read through a lot of poems and you don’t wanna make it easier for them to disqualify you by not…following the rules.