Poet Spotlight: Nailah Shami | Yecheilyah’s 2nd Annual Poetry Contest 2018

This week we are spotlighting the winners of the 2nd Annual Poetry Contest! Today, you’ll get to meet the poets and read their poems. Let’s dive right in with our 2nd Place winner.

Introducing Nailah Shami

Nailah Shami is the author of two non-fiction books: Taking the High Road: How to Cope Your Ex Husband, Maintain Your Sanity, and Raise Your Child in Peace and Do Not Talk To, Touch, Marry, or Otherwise Fiddle with Frogs: How to Find Prince Charming by Finding Yourself. Continuing to fulfill a personal mission to inspire, encourage and entertain others, she blogs on Better for That, a weekly platform of uplifting micro-essays, vignettes, self-care streams and poetry. She is also working on a series of contemporary women’s fiction novels and a volume of poetry. Nailah lives in Washington state in the shadow of Mt Rainier and loves travel, festivals, music, comedy, cooking, pampering, all things lavender, hanging out with friends and family (or interesting strangers) and, of course, writing. She is always writing.

Welcome Nailah! So nice to meet you beautiful! I have to say we loved your poem.  Please tell us what inspired you to write it.

Nailah: My childhood was spent in an abusive, alcoholic household, so it took a while to come to the concept of self-care, or what I have come to describe as intentionally loving and mothering myself. But once I did, it became the perfect antidote for undoing that early trauma. I am fascinated, even addicted to, the power that self-care has to enhance every area of my life. It’s me saying to myself over and over in so many ways, I got you. This is a sacred obligation that I trust completely. Shortly before I wrote this poem, my BFF {Best Friend Forever} complimented me for being the most resilient, self-sufficient person she knows. Extreme self-care is the reason and I wanted to share that in a poem.

And share you did! Loving Myself Full is a beautiful poem. I mean, we loved it. There are several lines that spoke to us, one of them was:

I reverse-engineer my collapse

With unhurried tithes to myself

Can you explain a little bit to our readers about this line?

Nailah: What I was trying to convey there was that there is a certain mindfulness about knowing what it will take for me to burn out, and a wholehearted willingness to counteract that by making small, deliberate contributions to my well-being. Could be taking 10 minutes to choose just the right bouquet of flowers, 30 minutes on my yoga mat, 90 minutes on the massage table, making sure I’m eating right and getting my zzz’s or happily saying no to a swarm of demands on my time.

Very nice. I think that’s a nugget of wisdom we can all take with us. 

Now let’s get into this poem!

 

Loving Myself Full, Copyright©Nailah Shami

2nd Place

 

I turn off the phone, turn on the sauna

Dial down stress, dial up serenity

Gather my wounds in a circle,

Sing them the tender lullaby, years cultivated

And love myself full

Hush, I whisper

Until they trust me to gently paint over their grievances

With a mosaic of sunshine and light

They vary in age

Strolling through a lifetime, I nod to each me

Spending extra moments with Inner Mother me

She knows how all of this tenderness will play out

My eyes close when a melody from another world caresses my ears

The massage therapist pulls tension out of shoulders, arms, legs, spirit

Hot stones, aromatic oils, mindless bliss

I am AWOL, refusing to be needed

Lost in the valley of me, myself and I

Vowing to return to more simple things

Coloring, skipping, daydreaming

Hula hooping for breakfast

Beach dawdling for lunch

Lovemaking for dinner

Months before I am raggedy meat on a bone

I reverse-engineer my collapse

With unhurried tithes to myself

Casually buying roses with the groceries

Spraying lavender on the sheets,

Rose water on my face,

Wonder in my heart

I practice forgetting disappointments

And I do not have time to doubt the power of this spell I am casting,

The voodoo poetry of peace, stillness, and self-care

Of vowing to do the hardest things in the softest fabrics

And then have someone ease the memory of the fight from my muscles

With Zen music and hopeful scents

I lose time, but do not miss it

A fair exchange to put stars back in my eyes, silken my soul

From far away, I hear the massage therapist tell me to take my time getting up, and I do.

Oh, I do.

Be Sure to Follow Nailah Online!


https://betterforthat.wordpress.com/

 

Books by Nailah

 

CLICK HERE to learn more about Taking the High Road.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Do Not Talk to, Touch, Marry, or Otherwise Fiddle with Frogs.


Stand by for our 2-Day Special Feature of the Grand Prize Winner taking place tomorrow (Mon. 8/27, and Tues. 8/28)!

Who took home the grand prize and why?

Stay glued, Jahkazia Richardson is next.

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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

Self-Love: A Process

When I started my self-love journey, at 30, I didn’t even know it was a thing. I didn’t know that other women had started self-love journeys too, many of them starting in their 30s. I also thought, when I started, that I was headed to a specific place. “I’m on a journey of self-love,” I’ll tell people. They probably just rolled their eyes. I was acting like I was on my way to the spa or something. Like after three weeks of prayer and meditation I would arrive. That suddenly, after a month of Sunday’s I would be so aware of myself that insecurity and uncertainty would never find me again.

Over one year later and I am still finding myself, still learning myself, still fighting off insecurities and uncertainties. Almost two years and I am still developing that deeply personal and spiritual understanding of myself. That’s because self-love is a process, a journey, not a destination. It’s not some place you come to after three prayers and an inspirational quote. It’s something that develops over time and that only gets stronger as you age.

Ever wonder why elderly men and women have such a “I don’t give a damn,” attitude?

It’s not that they don’t care about anything. It’s just that they’ve been on this Earth long enough to have such a deeply personal understanding of who they are that they will not allow anyone else to tell them about themselves, neither do they care what others think of their actions. It’s important for you to know that you will not get to the place they are immediately. Just like they had to go through the years, you will have to go through them too so you shouldn’t rush the process. It could take years to truly heal from trauma, heartache, depression, self-hatred or whatever spirit is stopping you from fully loving yourself.

This also means that in this process you will have to be intentional, deliberate, and disciplined about re-examining who you are as an individual. And you must be very, very honest with yourself. Without honesty, you are doing yourself a great disservice and you are headed for self-destruction. A life built on deception will eventually crumble. You can’t heal by covering the wounds with more crap. You must expose the wound and allow healing to take place. This can’t happen if you’re just going to lie to yourself.

Before you commit, understand that Self-love is a long-term commitment of learning and knowing yourself. It happens in stages and can take years.


Now, go write a poem about Self-love or Self-Care in some way and enter it into my 2nd Annual Poetry Contest! We are SIX days out. Don’t miss the chance to win money, a beautiful notebook and pen, publication, promotion, and books!

What does self-care mean to you? What does it look like to you? What do you think of when you hear self-love? How can we take better care of ourselves?

CLICK HERE to read through all the entry rules and guidelines and then email your poem to yecheilyah(at)yecheilyahysrayl(dot) com. Also remember this is a free entry contest so there’s no entry fee to enter. But hurry! Time is running out!

Self-love and Poetry Contest

I’ve been watching The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu. It’s slow, a little boring and I find the portrayal of submission and authority and the use of scripture to verify abuse offensive, filled with all of the stereotypes and misconceptions the world has taught in regard to a woman and man’s divine role. But, there is one perfect example in the series that illustrates why self-love is so important.

The TV show is based on the best-selling novel by Margaret Atwood and is set in Gilead, a totalitarian society in what used to be part of the United States. Gilead is ruled by a fundamentalist regime that treats women as property of the state and is faced with environmental disasters and a plummeting birth rate. In a desperate attempt to repopulate a devastated world, the few remaining fertile women are forced into sexual servitude. One of these women, June (Offred), is determined to survive the terrifying world she lives in, and find the daughter that was taken from her.

In the series, the Handmaid’s (whose purpose is to birth the children) are treated worse than the baby they carry. The society and the household only love the Handmaid’s to the extent that they love the child they are pregnant with. They treat the women like crap, like slaves and only extend kindness when they get pregnant. When the women get pregnant they are allowed privileges, mercy, and compassion. But only until after the baby is born, where they are to nurse the baby for a few months before turning the baby over to the wives. The women are then shipped off to another family, where their purpose is the same. Make babies for the barren wives of the wealthy families, to be loved only when they have conceived. But how can you love the baby but hate the mother who births the baby?

 

Self-love is important because you can only love others to the extent that you already love yourself.

When the wives of the wealthy men abuse their Handmaid’s, it’s because they hate themselves. They hate themselves for not being able to bear children. They only show love (if we can call it that) to the Handmaid’s when they love themselves and they only love themselves when they have conceived (through the handmaids) children.

Love Yourself. Know Yourself. Be Yourself.

Self-love is not being arrogant and prideful, it is not about the clothing you wear, not about how many likes and comments you get on a post, not about the amount of money you make or what you do for a living. Rather, self-love is a state of appreciation for yourself that grows from actions that support your physical, mental, professional, and spiritual growth. When Self-love is present, we begin to accept better our weaknesses as well as our strengths without thinking badly about ourselves. We are not easily provoked, popping off and cursing people out every time they say something bad about us. We have less of a need to explain our actions and decisions when we know who we are and what our intentions are. We are not quick to over-intellectualize our shortcomings in an effort to get people to understand us. We have more compassion for ourselves instead of beating ourselves down when we do something wrong and we are more centered in our life purpose and values.

Self-love also gives us the discipline to deny what we want for what we need. You love yourself when you can turn away from something that feels good and exciting to what you need to stay strong, centered, and moving forward in your life, instead. By staying focused on what you need, you turn away from automatic behavior patterns that get you into trouble, keep you stuck in the past, and lessen self-love.

When we love ourselves, we expect more of ourselves and of the people around us. No longer does it become acceptable to treat us any differently than we would treat ourselves. When we love ourselves, we demand more and we give more. When we love ourselves, we become more productive professionally, spiritually, and physically. Our cup runs over and we are able to give more to others.

Self-love is important because you will otherwise hate others in the same way that you hate yourself…

…which leads to abuse. Abuse of your friendships, abuse of your relationships, abuse of your career, abuse of your children, abuse of your family. People who hate themselves destroy everyone and everything around them. In turn, they cope by deceiving themselves into thinking it is someone else fault. The truth is that relationships are two-sided. It is never 100% the other persons’ fault but each person has come with their own set of issues. But if you don’t love yourself, you’ll lack accountability for your actions. You’ll tend to always make other people the villain and you, always, the victim.

Remember, without love, knowledge is nothing. Without love, prophecy is nothing. Without love, the truth is nothing.

Now, Enter the 2nd Annual Poetry Contest before July 31st!

Win money. Win books. Get published. Get noticed.

The theme for this year is: Self-Love, Self-Care. Write a poem that talks about self-love or self-care in some way and email it to yecheilyah(at)yecheilyahysrayl(dot) com

Don’t forget to read the full rules and guidelines HERE to learn more about this year’s prizes and how to enter.

That’s it! 3poem max per poet. Enter BEFORE 12:00pm EST on July 31, 2018. Winners announced on August 22, 2018.

 

Jenifer Lewis Talks Self Awareness, Mental Illness, Sex Addiction + More

Really enjoyed this interview with Lewis with the Breakfast Club. She got me pumped to finish my own memoir! I may be quiet and reserved but I love realness and I love people (as an introvert, extroverts keep me balanced lol). I love real people because life is real. The rest of ya’ll can walk around with your noses in the air and your high horses but I ain’t got that kind of time. Be real with me. I am the closest to people who just keep it 100 and this interview is pretty much that. I haven’t read her memoir yet but I am about to go get it. (Note: I try not to use profanity and posting this video should not be taken as consent that I condone it. Lewis is hilarious though.)

My favorite quote:

“Love yourself so that love will not be a stranger when it comes.”

Sips of Nourishment

Take the time every now and again to step back and to refresh parts of your soul that no one sees. Stay in your studies and send up prayers and meditation to quench the thirst of questions that no man can answer. Everyone laughs at faith until desperation strolls into our lives wearing a smirk and holding a sickle in his right hand. He is here to reap and leave the malnourished one empty. Everyone believes in something when the catastrophe ensues and no one is laughing any longer. Don’t be like those laughing at creation and yet calling on a god when things go wrong. Keep yourself full of hope and expectation no person can touch. Exercise both your body and your mind and it’ll work wonders for you in the end. Read books and study to nourish that beautiful mind of yours so no one makes a prey of you through philosophy and deceit. Sing, dance, praise and laugh like the crazy person you are. How dare you cloak yourself in positive vibes and radiate a smile brighter than the sun? Only if you keep yourself filled with light can you shine. Take these sips of nourishment to sustain you so that in the daily grind that is your life, while you’re busy surviving, you do not forget to live.