Throwback Thursday Jams – Luther Vandross: Here and Now

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We Are Not Your Negroes

Inspired by James Baldwin’s “I am Not Your Negro”

 

Negroes are born
without name
without record
they are boys despite age
Uncles
Johns
Negroes are sign language
using symbols to communicate
their existence
born without land
without placement
without ownership
what King referred to as
“a degeneration
of nobodyness”
they are sojourners
wandering from person to person
in search of themselves
Negroes are born
without heritage
without honor
without pride
without mothers
their umbilical cords
cut
their screams muffled with injustice
their bodies sold
and bellies stuffed with lies
Negroes bleed death
and cannot recognize their own corpse.

But we are not Negroes.

We are soil and Earth
lips that sing
mouths and song and praise.
We are bodies and flesh
veins and blood and salt
We are salt
of the Earth.

Seasoning.

We are crowns and rubies and pearls
eyes and nose
vision and smell.
We are scripture and fire
and dripping honey
We are blood, teeth, and bone
We are people
brave. proud. strong.
But we are not your

Negroes.

The Poetry Magazine Proof

Featuring Jahkazia, Nia, Nailah, Kiyana, Tehilayah, Khaya, Olayemi, Zerahyah, Tinzley, Kathy , Lisa, and S.R. Graham.

So I come home and look what’s here! The proof for our Poetry Magazine featuring the winners and honorable mentions of last year’s contest. It’s so beautiful! I am happy with the way it came out. It’s thick, sturdy, and colorful! The picture doesn’t do it justice. It looks more like the digital version in how it pops (images are not pixelated! Phew). It’s truly a work of art.

Now, I gotta look through this baby and see if there are any changes that are needed so I’m pushing the release date back to Monday, June 3rd. Both hard copies and digital downloads will be available online and I’ll give you the details for that. Wanna be published in next year’s issue? Be sure to enter this year’s contest and win for the 2020 Edition! We also promote our sponsors in the mag, their business, books or services.

 About LitMag

This Literary Korner Publishing Magazine (LitMag) is an extension of Yecheilyah’s Annual Poetry Contests featuring poems written by the talented authors who have entered and won. We would like to welcome you to the first issue of the Literary Korner Publishing Magazine for poets, releasing Monday, June 3, 2019. Inside you’ll meet our Grand Prize Winner, Runner-Ups, and Honorable Mentions. You’ll also read an inspiring article from one of our sponsors and get a look at some phenomenal books to check out! Each year, we will publish a new issue featuring the winning poets of the previous year. This year (2019), we introduce you to the winners of our 2018 contest and next year, you’ll meet the winners of this year’s contest in our 2020 edition.

This year’s contest is officially open to entries!

Be sure you are following this blog for updates. 

Click on the link below for full details on entering, prizes, and all that jazzz! (*new fav word haha*)

 

>>>Enter the 2019 Poetry Contest!<<<

New Adventure: WeBuyBlack.com

I’ve been supporting the Webuyblack movement for a while now. I’ve purchased products from the many black-owned businesses on the site, attended the inaugural convention last year and met some talented all-black business owners. I bought toothbrushes, coffee, hair care products and even potato chips all from black-owned businesses. Recently, I watched the first episode of Killer Mike’s Netflix special and was proud to see Webuyblack represented. Mike’s idea intrigued me: See if you can survive 3 days solely on the strength of food, transportation and products from black-owned businesses. This was interesting and brought the idea of selling on the site back to my memory.

I first met a WeBuyBlack representative in March, 2018 at the Greenbriar Mall in Atlanta. At the time I had decided I would definitely open a store on the site. Over time, though, I was not sure if I should. I was not sure if it was worth it from an author point of view. I didn’t see many authors at the convention and I didn’t see many of the authors whose books are on the site being promoted by the Webuyblack team. I am not selling Laundry Detergent, Soap, or clothing. It took me almost a year to decide if it was worth it. To make a long story short, I have decided to try it out. I see this as eventually being monumental and I’d like to be part of its history.

What is WeBuyBlack?

We Buy Black is a global marketplace for Black owned businesses. All the products on the site are designed and produced by black business owners, but not only that, WeBuyBlack is a movement to see social and economic justice globally. Can we recreate our own version of Black Wallstreet? Can we pool our resources together and support one another? My books are on Amazon, B&N online, Kobo and iTunes but why not WeBuyBlack? As a writer of Black History, this is right up my alley. Surely, I can support a movement centered on black empowerment.

Support My Storefront on WeBuyBlack

https://webuyblack.com/yecheilyahysrayl

First, you should know that as my circle of readers, I am not asking you to buy anything.

Many of you already have the two books I have decided to upload for now. If you reviewed these books on Amazon, I am asking if you can review them on Webuyblack. This will help me to get the attention of other readers and to decide if I want to make this a permanent move or not.

If you LOVED Renaissance and you LOVED I am Soul, let’s show other readers why these books are worth the time investment. I’ve decided to start with just these two. Only if they do well will I add more. What do you think? Can we do this? Yes, we can!

>>>https://webuyblack.com/yecheilyahysrayl<<<

The Evolution of a Book Cover

I’ve always enjoyed looking at book covers. In fact, choosing a cover is my favorite part of the Indie Book Publishing process. In the beginning, I didn’t care too much about the cover and that was cool. But then, as I matured, I started to look at my writing differently. I stopped looking at my writing alone and started looking at the book as a complete package. In doing so, I’ve learned that the best chances of a book succeeding is not just one thing, but a collection of things. Not just a nice cover alone or a well-written story alone, but everything together. That is what I’ve learned and that is how I will look at book publishing from now on. I will look at the process as a complete piece, a body that I must dress not just outwardly but inwardly and not just inwardly but outwardly.

I’ve been having a little success with I am Soul so I thought I’d talk a little bit about the evolution of the cover and how I think it has played a major role in that success.

To start, I wasn’t going to even release this book when I did. I was supposed to release book two of Nora December 20, 2017, my mothers birthday. Instead, I pushed that book back (it wasn’t ready) and released I am Soul.

I am Soul is a collection of poems from this blog as well as my personal journal, collected, compiled and edited into what is now my 4th collection of poetry. I call it I am Soul because some of the poems are personal, some of them are centered around the African American experience (a people of Soul) and also because people have always said that I have an old soul. Even as a kid people have said that I was mature for my age. For these reasons, I am Soul.

Grainy pic of me and I am Soul with old cover.

The first cover was decent. I liked it a lot. A purple book with a heart-shaped bible page. It was nice enough to land me the #7 spot in the African Literature category of Amazon before release day. It started at number 17, then dropped to number 9 and then number 7.

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But…

I liked the cover a lot but I didn’t love it. I couldn’t help but notice that the cover looked better electronically, to me, than it did when the paperback arrived. It also didn’t stand out very well on Amazon.

I AM SOUL- 3D

I still think this is a cute cover but it doesn’t look all that great offline. Once the book printed it didn’t look the same. The dark blue on top the purple didn’t pop. In fact, this is still the cover on Goodreads. I don’t know how to change it. At first I didn’t care but after awhile I had to follow my heart and change the cover. (A privilege of publishing books Independently. You can change what you want, when you want.)

I decided to try something that matched the name of the book and the content in full. When you think of Soul you think of something deeply personal and connected to that individual.

Soul is something Israelites (Blacks) have always had (think Soul Train), from our hair styles to our creative way of dance, the way that we dress, the way that we sing, and the way that we speak. We set the trends and nothing was more trendy than the Afro at the peak of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. From the practice of shaving the head to pass as a free person in the antebellum south, to the Afro of the 60s and 70s that said that Blacks were proud of who they were and free to be so openly, natural hair had made a comeback.

FFxG
Young, beautiful Cicely Tyson.

In the 1950s-60s it was common for Black women in Africa to wear their hair in small bushes. In America, Black women stopped straightening their hair. Women like Nina Simone and Abbey Lincoln are examples. And then Miriam Makeba (“Mama Africa”) emerged with a fro in the January 1960s issue of Look Magazine and Cicely Tyson wore her hair in a fro on episodes of the CBS drama East Side, West Side. And as college students and political activists like Jesse Jackson and Angela Davis started wearing fros, the fro had eased on into the mainstream.

Before and After

 

It wasn’t just about hair no more than Samson’s locs was about being trendy. Those locs were a representation of power and strength and so the Afro was a representation of the social-economic and political era of the time. A time when Black men and women were gaining strength and reclaiming parts of their lost heritage, one hairstyle at a time. A similar revolution is taking place today. Black men and woman are embracing more of their natural selves and waking up to the true knowledge of who they truly are.

For all of these reasons, I felt an image of a Black woman wearing a fro spoke volumes concerning the kind of messages I was seeking to give with the poetry inside of the book. Not just the soul of one woman but the soul of a people. The soul of an era.

I still think both covers are nice in their own right but the one that sticks out the most and which embodies a much more clear message; the one that will not just appeal to those who are biblically conscious but reach a larger audience; the one that makes people stop in their tracks, is the new cover.

When I uploaded this to social media, readers responded immediately. This had not happened with the first cover.

 

 

The new cover got me new reviews…

Screenshot (42)

I submitted this book to two different bookstores. One using the old cover and one using the new cover. The one with the new cover got a call back and the book is beginning to sell at the store. I am still waiting on a response from the store using the old cover.

 

I’ve learned that book covers really are important because I’ve experienced how important they are. Don’t get me wrong, content is just as important. At the end of the day if there’s nothing special to read there’s nothing special about the book. I am Soul still had to be edited and get through the bookstore’s professional reviewers to be stocked.

But, when I walked into the store yesterday, I couldn’t help but notice that because of the cover, Soul stuck out more than some of the other books that I could tell, as an Indie Author, were also self-published. In fact, to my surprise, Soul was sitting right next to Nikki Giovanni’s A Good Cry. Whether someone just sat it there or not, I cannot be sure. But, I was sure enough proud. I wasn’t going to taint the moment with thoughts of how it got there. It was there nonetheless.

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