Yecheilyah’s 4th Annual Poetry Contest Winners 2021: Jasmina Jammison

IG_Poetry(9)

Introducing Jasmina Jammison

Instagram: jillrxse

Please, tell us what inspired your poem.

I wanted to challenge myself with this poem. I have a love for Greek Mythology that I wanted to incorporate into it. But that is just a part of it. My main inspiration was my current relationship. I’ve learned patience and communication, which was something I lacked in other relationships. I also learned self-love and how important it is to have. You’re supposed to be learning how to love someone else, and the best way to start that is to know how you want and need to be loved first.

Well said!

What do you love most about poetry?

I love the freedom of expression when it comes to poetry. Everyone’s voice is different, but we could all be going through the same thing, and your words need to be heard. Poetry is healing and therapy to me. That’s what I love the most. Being able to put everything down on paper and releasing it. I perform most of my poems, and the stage is where I get the most out of it. Letting the pain and stress or discomfort out in the open for everyone to hear and not to have to worry about it be bottled up inside anymore.

Beautiful. We’d love to hear you recite your poetry one day! We’ll have to set that up. For now, you are a new contestant. In what way do you think contests such as this one are beneficial to authors?

Contests like these are beneficial because of the exposure and the opportunity to step out and be bold. I stepped out of my comfort zone when entering, and I placed. Sometimes you have to step out on faith and believe in yourself, and these contests give authors like myself a place to be bold.

How did you get started writing?

I started writing young. I never really took it seriously. I just knew I loved poetry. I started taking my poetry seriously during my first year of college. I read a poem I wrote to a friend, and she asked me why I hadn’t performed any of my pieces. I had terrible stage fright back then. I would never have dreamed of actually being on stage and performing something I wrote. It scared me to think of what others would think about my inner thoughts, but I loved it. Loved opening my truth up to others because some people felt just the way I did. I found a family that wanted to help me perfect my craft and push myself. I owe a lot to the Deep Release Poetry Society at Valdosta State University. Without that organization, I wouldn’t have challenged myself or continued with my writing.

I admire all the winning poems this year because you guys stepped outside the box.

In your case, you used the Greek Goddess Aphrodite, the ancient goddess of love and beauty. What went into this decision? What was the process of writing this poem like for you?

I pulled all my best ideas into this one. I wanted to make sure everything made sense, so I did some research to ensure I had my Greek Mythology right. The first night I started writing, something happened. I can’t remember what exactly, but I did not finish it that night. It actually took me longer than I thought to finish the ending, but it came together. I enjoyed writing this poem because of the care I put into it.

What would you say is your writing strength and weakness?

My writing strength would have to be relatability. I write to make the reader feel what I mean, not just read it. I want my words to bring out the emotion as much as possible to get the message across. When it comes to my weakness, it would have to be not finishing certain pieces and stopping. I have a bad habit sometimes of having writer’s block and just leaving it there. I have many short poems that need some love.

I feel you. Are you working on any writing projects/books?

I am working on a project and hopefully a book as well. It is still in the beginning stages, but I am hoping to get it launched in the next year.

Yess! Well, be sure to let me know. I’m here for it.

Where do you see yourself a year from now?

I see myself winning more contests, haha.

Okay, you sound like Dondi!

But seriously, I see myself taking my writing to the next level. I know that I have the potential to do more, and I’m ready to act. Sometimes we fall short of knowing what we are capable of, and we stop ourselves from doing more. But this time next year, I hope to have one book under my belt.

That’s right, sis. Speak it into existence! Be on the lookout for her book next year, ya’ll.

And without further ado, I introduce to you “The Secret Garden,” by Jasmina Jammison

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Photo by Kilyan Sockalingum on Unsplash

I once dreamed I lived in the Secret Garden
Where I mastered patience and understanding
Where dreams were reality
Where faith didn’t have to be the size
Of a mustard seed
And she lived there with me

We knew each other in and out
In this garden, we were mythological
Like something out of a Greek novel
Aphrodite graced us with her presence

And we learned love without conditions.
We shared passions and pains
Learned how to inhale peace with every breath
She loved me for just me, every ounce of me
But this is a Secret Garden after all

I woke up
Because dreams are only real when you’re asleep
There was no us
It was just me
No garden to hide in
No one to love my flaws
Cupid didn’t exist in this world
No arrows to hit me with
No infinite peace

So I learned how to build
How to pick up bricks of my past
Lay down and surrender to every slab
Of cement in between
And mold a fence of love and understanding

We can build the Secret Garden.
With every ounce of despair
With every love lost
With the love of oneself
We can build a mansion

I know this because she is here
In the walls of this fence
And she loves me for just me

She picked up my bricks
And helped me build
I put down her insecurities
As she laid down my losses in cement
Together we know peace and intimacy

We built this mansion on a foundation
Of affliction
She gave me the blueprints to her heart
And I made a note of every measurement
Handmade every detail to perfection
Carved my name in the outline of her heart
And I pray she’ll keep me there forever

Because this love only comes
Once in a lifetime
we made sure this house wouldn’t collapse
These walls are too sturdy
We never needed the Secret Garden
To build what we have
Aphrodite taught us that

Copyright©2021 Jasmina Jammison

Yecheilyah’s 4th Annual Poetry Contest Winners 2021: Dondi A. Springer

Introducing Dondi A. Springer

Instagram: napalmjax

Please, tell us what inspired your poem.

My inspiration for this poem was really the essence of life itself. Without love, there is no life.

Hmm. I like that! What do you love most about poetry?

I love the wordplay, how you can paint a picture, tell a story, or escape into your own little world. Better yet, you can sing a beautiful song and not sing one note.

You are a returning contestant. What would you say are some benefits of contests like this to writers?

Some benefits of a contest like this is not just the exposure as a poet or writer, but the opportunity to meet other poets from all over. Plus, being able to showcase versatility and depth with a theme.

What I always admire about your poetry is what I like about your answers so far. It’s powerful in its simplicity. You don’t say a lot, but what you do say, I can tell, is from your heart, from the soul. That’s not easy to do.

Tell us, what was the process of writing this poem like for you?

The process of writing this poem for me was actually kind of challenging. Writing to a theme is not always easy, as it makes you think and stretch your creative muscle. Once I got the direction I wanted to go with, the words came easy.

What would you say is your writing strength and weakness?

My writing comes mostly from my life’s experiences and personal growth. So I would have to say that’s my writing strength and my weakness. I have no technical training. I just like to write. When it comes to poetry, I just throw the rules out the window and write it how I feel it.

I love it! And I think it’s what sets you apart. Are you working on any writing projects/books?

Yes. I am working on a project and a book. I have a short inspirational book called “Can’t Stay Here” that I’m doing edits on right now. Also, I’m working on a memoir about my journey into veganism, called “Vegan-is-M(e)/Deeper Than A Diet.”

Nice! Well, we congratulate you on all your endeavors and wish you the best. I’m really looking forward to t”Can’t Stay Here!”

Where do you see yourself a year from now?

A year from now, I see myself back here, competing for the grand prize, and blogging.

That’s the spirit! Dondi said he coming back, ya’ll! I love to see it.

And without further ado, I introduce to you “Love Is,” by Dondi A. Springer

Photo by Joseph Barrientos on Unsplash

Love is a life that flows like a fluid
An infinite vibration like waves of an ocean
Touching your soul, the arrow of a cupid
That breath of fresh air, when life’s undercurrent comes grasping
To some, it comes freely,
to others, it comes while kneeling.
That long labor of love is where you will find compassion
The blind will see the light to walk out of their plight
It is the fluid of life
More than just a feeling, love becomes a part of your being
It runs deep in your veins,
limitless like the astroplane
Love makes us all relate, with no space for hate
So we are all connected in this space
Love is…

Copyright©2021 Dondi A. Springer

Yecheilyah’s 4th Annual Poetry Contest Winners 2021: ZerahYah Ysrayl

Introducing ZerahYah Ysrayl

Instagram: shining_of_yah

Please, tell us what inspired your poem.

In a world that sometimes seems void of all things good, being a single woman, I thought of love on an intimate level. My mind processed what it would feel like and look like, and that poem resulted from that vision.

It’s a beautiful poem and it’s the only one that spoke of love from a parental point of view. You named the poem “Unknown.” Can you walk us through what’s behind that title? Why the unknown?

I named my poem “Unknown” because up until that point, love was something for me that wasn’t just surface. It was a deep, soul-warming feeling from bringing life into this world where I experienced the unknown. It was different, it was new, and it was foreign to me. I now know that parental love is the best love. Often, we associate love with love between man and woman, overlooking the love between mother and child. This love never changes. No matter what, it never wavers. In my thought process, the unknown is the best known, my experience.

What do you love most about poetry?

Poetry is one of the most beautiful forms of expression I have ever encountered. It’s like giving a voice to the soul. It can be a healer to both the writer as well as the reader.

I agree! Tell us, how did you get started writing?

I grew up in a broken home. The chaos of it all would have my mind racing so much that I started writing my thoughts and my feelings down just to relieve the pain. Then, when I entered middle school as a form of escape, I joined a drama class. The first poem I ever heard was “A Dream Deferred” by Langston Hughes. It was short but powerful. At that moment, I decided I wanted to turn this pain into something beautiful, and the process began.

You are a returning contestant, and it is something I always admired about you. You always came in as an honorable mention, but you didn’t give up. You kept coming back, and it has paid off. This year, you have placed.

How does that feel and what is behind the persistence? What makes you keep entering?

I’ve heard many say that they don’t enter contests because it can weaken your confidence, or they don’t want their art judged. I’m the opposite. I have never been a quitter. Although I’m still a babe in this art, my goal is to perfect, which can only be done by challenging myself, taking criticism from those more experienced than me, and rendering myself vulnerable and humble to those that have spent years perfecting their craft.

Every year I have accepted my honorable mention not as a defeat but as a means to come back stronger and more mature. This year, I placed, and it felt good. However, my work is not done. I will continue to examine and push myself. I’m coming for that number one spot. They say practice makes perfect.

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Listen. It’s the confidence for me! Sis said she coming.

What would you say are some benefits of contests like this to writers?

It gives the writer exposure, and it helps to strengthen the skills of the writer. You get to share a little bit of yourself with the world, and you never know who you may touch along your journey.

What was the process of writing this poem like for you?

I have always been my worst critic. However, I wanted some maturity to show in my writing skills on this one since the topic was so heavy. I wrote and rewrote a few times. But once I tapped into what the word love really meant to me, the words became clearer. All I needed to do was write.

What would you say is your writing strength and weakness?

My strength would definitely be my ability to speak on any topic without fear. I can bare my soul with complete confidence that my words will resonate with someone. My weakness is that I’m not consistent and unable to remember what I write, so it stays in a book most of the time. I need to share my talent more.

Are you working on any writing projects/books?

I’m currently not working on anything in particular. I write all the time, so I’m just waiting for the opportunity to share.

Where do you see yourself a year from now?

I will continue to mature my writing skills. I also would like to work on some spoken words. Writing a poem is one thing, but reciting it is a whole different experience. Poetry is such an underrated art. I want to continue to be a part of keeping poetry alive. Who knows what the future may hold. My book may be coming to a store near you soon.

That’s what I wanna hear!

And without further ado, I introduce to you “Unknown,” by ZerahYah Ysrayl:

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Photo by Mustafa Omar on Unsplash

The epitome of love I carried in my womb.
Every flutter, every kick brought about abundant joy.
Nauseous and excitingly waiting to give birth to a nation.
As my body morphed to make space
a delectable glow filled my face.
The heartbeat was music to my ears
like an ancestral drum beating in the distance
silencing my fears.

The weight on my bladder
the swelling in my feet
it was worth it cause it was pure love I was to meet.
As stretch marks began to cover my abdominal,
I begin to feel something phenomenal.
The conception of perfection
a body within a body
ten toes, two feet
the divinity of the creator giving life through me.

It was an umbilical connection being nurtured from the beginning, and it has no end
As my pelvis expanded,
the pain sent a thrust through my veins
straight to my brain.
Like a volcanic eruption, I think that’s the best way to explain
My introduction took 15 hours, no sedatives
in the room me and my grandmother
my closest relative.

My first gaze upon his tiny face,
my heart was beating faster than the normal pace.
At that moment, I experienced three degrees of love
Unconditional, Agape, and Infinite
For me, parent to child love was and is
the ultimate.

Copyright©2021 ZerahYah Ysrayl

 

Dear Indie Authors, Stop Stalking Your Amazon Book Ranking

Independent Authors have become obsessed with rankings, reviews, and becoming an Amazon Best Seller over the years. While there is proof book reviews carry weight (social proof, credibility, increased visibility), there are many myths surrounding rankings.

According to Amazon, “the better the sales rank, the more sales it’s getting on Amazon.”

But, is this true?

Yes, selling books will naturally raise your book ranking, but your Amazon ranking can also be high for other reasons.

When I released I am Soul back in 2017, I set it up for preorders and, on release, it made it to #7 on Amazon’s Best Seller’s List.

How I thought I was doing it

To the untrained eye, this can look like I sold tons of books. And by the “untrained” eye, I mean everyday people who are not Self-Publishers or are not familiar with how the system works like family and friends.

But then…

According to my sales report for December 2017, I sold five preorders between December 16-19 (the book was released on the 20th).

Yes, I said five.

Five books sold, and I was #7 on Amazon’s Best Seller’s List.

Just so you know I am not BS-ing you, here’s a screenshot:

I thought I was big time.

Even Salt Looks Like Sugar got 13 preorders but did not come anywhere near #7.

How is this possible? Shouldn’t the book that sold more copies rank better? Yes, but as many people have already said, no one knows exactly how Amazon’s algorithm works. What we do know is books sold aren’t the only thing that determines a book’s ranking.

There is nothing wrong with pushing your book to sell tons of copies on release day and to make that Best Sellers list, but your book’s success is not contingent upon how well it does in the first few days or even weeks. A book that continues to sell over time does better than a book that does well all at once and then stops selling.

In the long run, steady, organic growth will always outperform sudden bursts of activity.

“At the end of two weeks, a book that sells five copies a day will rank significantly higher than a book that sells 3,000 copies on its launch day.” (Doppler, J)

It’s like book reviews, in a way. The newer the review, the better.

  • Book A gets about twenty reviews out of the gate. Your review team showed up and showed out. But, over the next few days, weeks, and months, there is no new activity.
  • Book B gets a couple of reviews out of the gate, a few more a week later, a few more the following week, and several more over the next few months.

Because Book B has newer reviews, it tells Amazon’s algorithms people are still interested in this book.

The Moral

A book that gets reviews slowly but consistently over time does better than a book that gets tons of reviews at once, but then the reviews stop coming in.

But what does this have to do with the sales ranking?

The book that continues to get new reviews is likely also the book that is continuing to sell. It might not be a #1 Best Seller or rank in Amazon’s top 100, but the author is selling books consistently. 

And this is what authors should focus more of their attention on.

Most indie books that take off running, in the beginning, stop selling after the release date because so much energy is directed at the launch that authors forget they need to continue to sell books AFTER that.

It is not to say being an Amazon Best Seller is not a cool thing. It is to say it doesn’t carry as much weight as people have made it out to be. Being an Amazon Best Seller is great, but it doesn’t really mean anything if the author is not making sales in the grand scheme of things.

There is no need for Indie Authors to stalk their Amazon ranking because a high ranking doesn’t always mean they are selling books. In the same way, a low ranking doesn’t always mean they are not selling books.

Sales rank plays a minor role in determining the order of Amazon search results. Other factors such as relevance, keywords, sales history, product listing quality, and available inventory may influence Amazon’s algorithms. Therefore, a book with a high sales rank may appear later in search results than lower-ranked books.

How do you tell if your sales rank on Amazon is reflective of books sold or just a bump in Amazon’s algorithm because of other influences?

Consistency

  1. Besides monitoring your sales report through your KDP account, consistency is the best determinate that your book ranking on Amazon is legit. By legit, you are a best seller because you are selling books. If you are a #1, #2, #3 (and so on) best seller in your category for weeks, months, or even years at a time, the chances are that is because you are selling books regularly, getting reviews, and doing the dango thang. Congratulations, you are an actual bestseller.
  1. Suppose you are only a #1 Amazon Best Seller for five minutes. In that case, it could be a combination of things influencing the algorithm, causing the numbers to fluctuate where one minute you are number one (let’s say because tons of people looking at your book page), and the next you are #512.

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You should certainly be proud of yourself for making it to #1, whether you were there for five minutes or five months. However, don’t allow yourself to be deceived by Amazon’s ambiguous system. Ya’ll are out here going crazy and being scammed over something that doesn’t even matter.

This isn’t about Amazon. This is about Indie Authors and how we’ve allowed our writing self-esteem to be determined by numbers and rankings. Just because you are not an Amazon Best Seller does not mean you are not selling books. Period.

And, for clarity, I did not say you should ignore your book ranking, just that there’s no need to stalk it, as in repeatedly going back to refresh the page every five minutes.

Click Here to Discover More Indie Author Basics

Unfinished

Photo by Carlos Quintero on Unsplash

Would you still love me

If I told you instead of making mistakes, I made choices

that clawed its way into my conscious

Would it frighten you

to know being hit by a car isn’t my only accident

and a surgical staple isn’t the only thing

I’ve been shot with

Would it shock you

if I said, I am not always acting like a queen

Could I be honest

about the weight of this crown

What if I confessed my sins in ink

washed my hands of transgression on paper

Is it okay if I sacrifice my body to this poem?

Purify my mind and kill my pride

by lynching my secrets to this tree

transform this test into a testimony

take this trial and morph it into some kind of triumph

some kind of victory like the overcoming of flesh

forged in a fire for the overcoming of death

Would you still admire me

If you knew about the parts of me that aren’t admirable

Add me

to your list of humans humble enough to admit

we encounter defeat

but strong enough not to be defeated

We are not diminished

Maybe just a little

unfinished


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The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen is LIVE

The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen is live!

About.

When Tina’s nephew, Ronnie is killed, she is left to care for his siblings and to solve a series of mysterious murders involving only black men. Investigating each murder thrusts her and her team into a world of deities, demons, and fallen angels, leading Tina to battle a serial killer beyond this realm.


“Paschar walked with confidence and held her head high as she moved her hips from side to side. Red was her most favorite color to wear with this skin. Something about the hue against this dark body is so different from her true form and more comfortable to navigate the Earth. Who wanted to be invisible to humans when it was easier to seduce them in the skin of a beautiful black woman? Passersby, men and women alike, looked, and Paschar smiled. They always stared. Humans were fascinated by blue, crystal pupils against such brown, creamy skin. In real life, Pas thought human bodies were disgusting. She hated the soft, gooeyness of the flesh, how it bruised and bled so quickly, how it fell apart and crumbled with each passing day. She hated the rotting meat on the bone, but she did come to love dark skin tones. Other pigments didn’t make her heart beat like melanin.”

– From Chapter 7, The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen

“Tina walked out of the door as her body trembled. She knew Big Sam had blue eyes, and Ronnie’s death was no accident. They had murdered her nephew, were back, and killing again.”

– From Chapter 3, The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen

We sold out of signed paperbacks on the site, but no worries! You can still order a paperback from Amazon. The next round of signed copies will be restocked soon! Be sure to bookmark my website below so you don’t miss it!

Black History through Poetry

I hope you are all doing well and all that good stuff. I have not blogged much lately because I am working on The Women with Blue Eyes and tons of other projects, including our 4th Annual Poetry Contest I want to get underway next month.

If you are new here, welcome to The PBS Blog! This is a great time for you to learn more about who I am through my most recent interview

Below is a snippet of the interview and links with WRDE-TV, an affiliate of CBS. Also find links to Fox 34 and WBOC, affiliate of NBC. (If you read one, you’ve read the others cause it’s the same article, just on different platforms.)

Interview Snippet:

What’s your best piece of advice for readers who desire to find success in their life?

Y: Faith without works is dead, so my best advice is to do your work. Get on your knees and pray and then get on your feet and work. I hate to sound so overly simplistic, but sometimes things are a lot simpler than we make them out to be. We must be willing to do the work necessary to manifest all that we believe we can achieve. Belief is good, but alone it is not enough so I cannot tell you to just believe in yourself. You must prove this belief with action. What you say you believe is one thing, but what you do exposes who you really are. Whatever it is you say you want, you must act on it for it to become a reality.

Not only must we love ourselves and believe in our ability, but we must also be prepared to do the work necessary to turn the unseen into the seen. Consistency is also key because while actions speak louder than words, consistency speaks louder than both. These skills Yah has blessed us with are not intended to serve only us. They are meant for us to multiply. This is possible when we combine a steadfast belief with a compelling work ethic.

Speaking of success, what does the word mean to you?

Success to me means to genuinely enjoy what you do with your life without sacrificing your authenticity. It means to multiply your gifts to serve as many people as is destined for as long as the breath of life is in your body and you are walking this earth. To do so with as much grit and love as possible, and to do it all while staying true to your integrity.

Read more at one of these links:

FOX 34: https://www.wdfxfox34.com/story/43500189/author-and-poet-yecheilyah-ysrayl-teaches-black-history-through-powerful-poetry

WRDE: https://www.wrde.com/story/43500189/author-and-poet-yecheilyah-ysrayl-teaches-black-history-through-powerful-poetry

WBOC: https://www.wboc.com/story/43500189/author-and-poet-yecheilyah-ysrayl-teaches-black-history-through-powerful-poetry


Read I am Soul or My Soul is a Witness? Don’t forget to leave an honest review! Links below.

Click here to review (or buy for 99cents!) I am Soul

Click here to review (or buy) My Soul is a Witness