Your Testimony is a Bridge

Copyright©2019. Photo by Ciao Bella Photography.

The Houston Signing was excellent. It was different from my other signings. We had a small crowd but it felt more intimate and personal. What’s better than talking about self-love to a group of Black women? It reminded me of teaching and you know what they say “when you teach you learn twice.” One of the most important lessons I learned is the importance of telling our stories. I wish I had gone deeper into my background during the introduction. I think it would have added a bit more depth.

I was raised on the south side of Chicago in the Robert Taylor Projects, the largest housing project in the world and one of the poorest urban communities in the United States (second only to Cabrini Green). I’ve seen things most people only read about or watch in hood movies. I know what it’s like to grow up around drug addicts and gangs. I got my own war wounds. I’ve been homeless. I’ve been hungry. I know what it’s like to be depressed and sad. Keep Yourself Full is not a regurgitation of the latest Social Media Self-love Guru. Keep Yourself Full exist because I know what it’s like to feel empty.

This kind of vulnerability helps us to be more relatable with others and capable of helping people who are where we were to see living proof that overcoming is not just a word: it actually is possible. If we consider ourselves healed and whole, how did we get that way? What lessons have we learned? We didn’t always know what we know today and preaching and browbeating rarely works…

…but stories do.

Tell your story. Let people know how you got here. Stories help us to connect more with others. It humanizes us and makes people open to hearing our perspective.

Your testimony is a bridge.


More photos of the signing will be uploaded to my website soon. yecheilyahysrayl.com/photos

3rd Annual Poetry Contest Spotlight Interview: Grand Prize Winner Chanelle Barnes


About.

Chanelle’s passion for writing poetry stemmed from an early obsession with song lyrics, reading and discovering the benefits of journaling. Inspired by poet/songwriters such as Jim Morrison, Jewel and Ani DiFranco, she began to find her voice, which has evolved immensely throughout her life experiences.

Over the years, she has shared her work via several blog names and has experimented with the art of spoken word. At times, she’s veered away from writing a bit to work on other creative endeavors but poetry has always been a staple and a place of healing.

More recently, she has moved her focus and research towards storytelling and activism through elements of performance and slam poetry. With this new venture, she hopes that others can relate to her stories and be inspired to start writing and sharing their own.

Your piece “Straight Lines,” won this year’s contest and your second submission “My Body Isn’t a Temple,” is an honorable mention. Please, what inspired these poems?

Straight Lines – This piece was a work in process for quite some time. As I struggled through some self esteem issues I began to delve into a different style of writing and healing. This was one of the first poems that surfaced. Soon after, it was performed at a poetry reading and has since been one of my favorites and most meaningful to date. As with all of my writings, I hope that others can relate and find the courage to overcome their insecurities as I did. (even though it is still a work in process)

We are all a work in process chile. I know I am lol. Tell us about “My Body Isn’t a Temple.” I know the title got some people like what? Ya’ll gotta read the poem though! It’s not what you think.

This piece was inspired by the Me-Too movement. So many people stood up to share their stories and I was finally able to voice mine. It was important for me to aid in bringing forth awareness towards such an important issue. I believe survivors and I am proud of them. 

Chanelle!! Welcome!

As the grand-prize winner you get a full interview so go ahead and get comfortable. Can I get you anything? Coffee? Tea? Water…wine?

If it’s that kind of party, some wine sounds perfect!

Yass! Here you go!

Okay. Let’s start from the top. What is your name and where are you from?

Chanelle Barnes  -Fort Wayne, Indiana 

What would your perfect writing / reading room look like?

Somewhere cozy with a fireplace, plants, sunshine (but no too much), lots of pillows, a record player and inspirational artwork. There would be large dormer window with a seat that overlooks an abundant forest. 

Nice! That sounds really comfortable. What is the most annoying habit that you have?

I have a habit of being self-conscious and at times, too modest.  

What job do you think you’d be really good at?

I think I would be a good travel blogger! Or… perhaps a wedding planner. 

I can actually picture you doing both those things. Any siblings Chanelle?

I have two younger siblings, a brother and a sister. They are amazing. 

Awwue. Tell me, what skills would you like to master?

Acro Yoga & Ballroom Dancing! I would also love to hone in on public speaking. No matter how many readings I do, I’m still terrified! 

What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?

I’ve always wanted to go to Australia, but I have also been wanting to go to a Wellness Retreat somewhere exotic! I also want to take a train ride across the states sometime.

I feel you on the public speaking! Chanelle, what is love?

Love is being your true self. Love is comfort. Love is not giving up but also, love is blind.

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 finished house would include a balcony, porch swings, fireplace, a scenic view (preferably with water), a winding staircase, a greenhouse, a large art room, a guest suite for my friends to visit whenever they’d like, a claw foot bathtub, secret passages, lots of plants, pets, a room with a glass ceiling and a telescope to view the stars and an abundance of color.

Copyright© 2019. Chanelle Barnes.

Let’s talk about writing a bit. Why is writing important to you?

To heal, inspire and release.

Having dealt with trauma at an early age (and being very shy/ introverted) I found writing to be the only way that I could sort out my thoughts and feelings in a way that made sense. Through journaling, poetry and music I felt I wasn’t alone. It wasn’t until much later, did I decide to share my writings publicly. It was at this point, that I realized I could not only express myself in this art form, but also inspire others to write and heal as I did.

Who’s your favorite writer?

Right now, I am really feeling the spoken word artist Kyle Tran Myhre (Guante).  He has been a huge inspiration as I move more towards spoken word and event planning. I also have been relating to and enjoying work by Rudy Francisco and Ruby Dhal.

Love Rudy. Just finished his Helium Audiobook. Good stuff.

You said you are moving toward Spoken Word. How would you describe the difference between spoken word poetry and written poetry? How are they similar and how do they differ?

To me, I feel that a spoken word piece is better portrayed when performing and it is written as such. I also feel they tend to be a little more raw. There is more that can be expressed when using tone and body language. With written poetry, it is up to the reader’s imagination to determine the tone and flow which is also satisfying. My spoken word pieces are typically stories and my written poetry is more based on feeling and emotion. I hope that makes sense!

It does! What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The most exciting thing?

The most difficult is being vulnerable.

The most exciting is painting a picture with words and words alone.

It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there to the world, but it’s also one of the most exciting!  It’s kind of like inviting others into your soul and like any art form, putting yourself out there for criticism or judgement. It’s a risk worth taking though. 
 
I like to compare poetry with music. You know when you hear a song and it makes you feel a certain way? When you hear lyrics and you can relate or they speak to you even though you really don’t know what the songwriter was thinking when they wrote it? It’s like that. Creating an image or story for the reader or listener to take with them. It’s all about twisting words into a feeling. In the words of Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” It’s so true!

That’s one of my favorite quotes! Speaking of music, we love music on The PBS Blog. What kind of music do you like and what songs have you completely memorized?

I love all kinds of music! Mostly, I listen to music with lyrics that make me feel something or beats that make me want to dance or relax.There are many, but the first one that comes to mind is Carnival by Natalie Merchant.

Chanelle, what takes up too much of your time?

Working two jobs and taking care of my home. I wish I had more time to work on writing and other creative endeavors.

I feel you. What do you wish you knew more about?

The human mind.

What about the human mind do you find most interesting?

I’ve delved in quite a bit when I was studying for my psychology degree and I think that’s what jump-started the desire to learn more. What I’ve been most interested in is social psychology, dream analysis and mental health. The mind is like an ocean and there are so many parts left to discover!

What’s your favorite drink?

Hot Tea.

Okay Chanelle. You know I gotta mess with you. Tea is supposed to be hot lol so what’s your second favorite drink?

Haha, okay that’s fair. Let’s see… I would say my second favorite would have to be this glass of wine I’m having. 

Heey. Here, let me refill that for you.

Thank you.

While you sip, favorite color?

Purple  

If you could live in a movie, which would it be?

Across the Universe -I think I lived through the 70’s in a past life.

Copyright © 2019. Chanelle Barnes.

Chanelle, I am all about self-care and self-love. What do you love about yourself?

Resilience. My ability to rise up against anything that gets thrown my way. This life isn’t easy, but I have my strength and experiences to guide me.   

Love it. Speaking of self-love, what is love?

Love is being your true self. Love is comfort. Love is not giving up but also, love is blind.

Most people think of love only in terms of “romantic” relationships and when I ask what it is, most people give me a definition based solely on that so I love that you defined it outside of that box.

I do have to ask though, you said love is blind, what does that mean?

To me, it means accepting flaws and feeling a deeper connection within the soul. In other words, it is felt, not seen.

What is truth?

An unbiased sense of self, void of outside influences.

Thank you Chanelle!

Be Sure to Follow Chanelle Barnes below and look out for both her pieces, “Straight Lines” and “My Body Isn’t a Temple” in the 2nd Edition Lit Mag Literary Magazine, 2020.

Copyright©2019. Chanelle Barnes

Instagram: @redredclover 


Today wraps up our spotlight of this year’s poetry winners.

All poet spotlights can be found on this page.

Be sure to follow @literarykornerpublishing on Instagram and Facebook for notification of the release of the 2020 Edition Lit Mag Literary Magazine for Poets where you will get to read our winning poets pieces in full AND the poems of everyone who entered this year’s contest! Be sure to also subscribe to this blog.

3rd Annual Poetry Contest Spotlight 2019: Buddah Desmond

 

Welcome to the blog Buddah and congratulations! Your poem, “Claiming Victory” was so uplifting it won you the #2 spot. Please tell us, what inspired this piece?

This poem was inspired by the challenges many of us face in believing in ourselves and doing what’s necessary to fulfill our purpose and achieve our dreams. Too often we think we’re not good enough. Too often we think we don’t have what it takes to make it. Too often we allow the noise, conditioning, and all the junk we’ve been fed by external forces to negatively impact our outlook and our ability to act. When we’re able to change our mindset, own all of who we are, and shed all of which hasn’t served us, we’re unstoppable. That’s when we can embrace abundance. And claim our victory!

“People get caught up on the highs, peaks,
and successes
They don’t see what went down in the valleys
What it took to get up, get out, and rise again
It’s what we’ve been through—
the periods between life’s highs and lows—
that make us so resilient
We can’t concede
We have to keep on”

-Excerpt from “Claiming Victory.”

As one of the top winners you get a full interview so go ahead and get comfortable. Can I get you anything? Coffee? Tea? Water…wine?

Thank you. May I have water please?

Copyright©2019. Buddah Desmond

Certainly!

Now, let’s start from the top. Why don’t you go ahead and tell us your name and where you’re from.

My name is Buddah Desmond (aka BDez). I was born in Washington, DC. Was raised in P.G. County MD (primarily in Forestville, MD and Greenbelt, MD). I currently reside in Alexandria, VA.

That’s very specific Buddah lol.

LOL, yes. I know. I can’t help it. Just call me Mr. Specificity. LOL

Soo Mr. Specificity, are you employed outside of writing?

Yes, I am a User Experience (UX) professional with over 13 years of experience crafting timely, intuitive, and forward-thinking solutions to improve the overall usability / UX of websites, apps, and services for non-profit, commercial, and government clients. My specialties include user research and analysis, user-centered design, user experience design, usability testing, content strategy, and information architecture. I’m also a health and wellness coach. Finished my masters in Nutrition and Integrative Health earlier this year. I’m in the process of completing my hours and studying to become a certified Nutritionist, and in the very early stages of starting my health and wellness coaching practice.

Wow. Congratulations on all your endeavors! With all this, what was your childhood dream?

My childhood dream (and still my dream today) was to be a Renaissance man… To be able to pull from my many talents, do work that matters, and to make a difference. I’m striving to achieve this mission still to this day.

What’s your favorite TV Show? Movie?

A number of favorites here, but one show that continues to be at the top of my list is Queen Sugar. The writing, acting, cinematography, the landscape, and the issues that are addressed with each episode—it’s phenomenal. I love everything that Ava DuVernay has done. She’s a gem. A national treasure. The epitome of Black Girl Magic! In terms of film, Black Panther has been sitting at the top of my movie list since it’s opening weekend. What an inspiring, impactful, and empowering film. A classic. Ryan Coogler did that!

He did indeed. We love music on The PBS Blog. What kind of music do you like?

Music is my first love. I come from a family that deeply loves, appreciates, and respects music. A number of us, myself included, are musically inclined. I have an eclectic taste in music. I love Jazz, R&B/Soul, Hip-Hop, Gospel, Classical, Reggae, Dancehall, Afrobeat, Latin, Country, and Rock… Music is an undeniably powerful and universal art form. Life wouldn’t be the same without it.

We agree there. Speaking of the Universe, with a name like Buddah I have to ask, religious or nah?

No, I’m not religious. I’m more of a spiritual being. I believe in the Most High… The Divine Creator of our universe that ties us all together. I’ve always been fascinated by religion though, and learning about how people worship, where they worship, their sacred texts, and the similarities / differences between the guiding principles we abide by.

Let’s talk about writing a bit. Favorite writer. Go.

These questions are always tough because it’s a rarity that I can ever narrow down to just one favorite of anything. LOL!

I knew I’d get you eventually.

Okay. I’m done. Carry on.

I have so many favorite writers. Maya Angelou. Langston Hughes. Nikki Giovanni. Sonia Sanchez. Saul Williams. James Baldwin. Toni Morrison. Alice Walker. Terry McMillan. Yrsa Daley-Ward. Nayyirah Waheed. Lucille Clifton. June Jordan. Janet Mock. Ntozake Shange. Devon Franklin. Octavia Butler. Amiri Baraka. Haki Madhubuti. Zora Neale Hurston. I could keep going, but I’ll stop there.

What genre do you write in, why?

My primary genre is poetry. I also write prose, essays, short stories, song lyrics, and blogposts. There’s a universality and musicality to the language of poetry. I couldn’t deny it when I first started reading it. And definitely couldn’t deny it when I started writing it. I think Amiri Baraka said it best, “Poetry is music, and nothing but music. Words with musical emphasis.”

I absolutely agree. It’s like poetry has this ability to bring out the depth in us in ways nothing else can.

YES! Poetry gives us the freedom to get soul-deep to tell our stories in such extraordinary ways.

Soul-deep. I like that. Yess.

The beauty is that we can each write a poem in any form about the same topic, emotion, or experience, and it can be embraced and interpreted quite differently by readers. What we as writers get out of it may be worlds away from what our readers get out of it. And that’s amazing. Truly amazing. Poetry has the power to change minds, and change lives.

When did you publish your first book? What was that like?

I self-published my first volume of poetry, Prevail: Poems on Life, Love, and Politics, in June 2012 through iUniverse. The experience was exhilarating, rewarding, frustrating, so many things. When I made the decision to publish my manuscript, I had a “no turning back” attitude. I was at a point in my life where it was imperative to go all in for the things I wanted. I couldn’t be mad at anyone but myself if I didn’t put in the effort or work to make my dreams come true. And I’m grateful I did. Publishing Prevail afforded many opportunities for growth and development, reading and speaking at a number of events, and connecting with other writers, creatives, and readers alike. Not to mention, many learning lessons about building a platform, social media, and book marketing and promotion.

Prevail: Poems on Life, Love, and Politics is available now on Amazon.

What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The most exciting thing?

That’s a great question. Hmmm… The most difficult thing would be pushing through writer’s block. Or periods when you really want to write, but the muse, inspiration, or motivation is sorely lacking. The most exciting thing is the freedom of expression. Being able to create you own world or worlds. New possibilities. And the blessings of your work opening minds, speaking for those whose voices aren’t being heard, and making deep, meaningful connections with a larger audience.

Nice. Buddah, what is humility?

Humility is quiet confidence. It’s being comfortable in who you are, your abilities, and what you bring to the table without being rude, brash, egotistical, or narcissistic. It’s also about being open to change and possibilities. And knowing that your way, whatever it may be, is not the only way.

What is love?

Love is one of the greatest emotions. It’s more than just deep feelings for something or someone. It’s in the actions. It’s all in what you do (or don’t do). Love can be life changing. Life-saving even. It’s unconditional. As I wrote in a recent piece, “I am nothing without love. I am everything with love.”

Beautiful. Thank you Buddah for spending this time with us. We certainly enjoyed you.

Be Sure to Follow Buddah Desmond below and look out for his piece, “Claiming Victory” in the 2nd Edition Lit Mag Literary Magazine, 2020.

Copyright© 2019 BuddahDesmond

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/buddahdesmond/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BuddahDesmond/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/buddahdesmond

Website: http://buddahdesmond.com/

Get the Book: Prevail: Poems on Life, Love, and Politics


Stay glued guys! Our first place winner is coming up!

Hit subscribe so you don’t miss it!

 

3rd Annual Poetry Contest Spotlight 2019: Returning 2018 Champion Jahkazia Richardson

Jahkazia (Jah-kay-asia which translates to Goddess of the land) is not just a returning poet but she’s our 2018 Champion! She shocked us all by submitting her poem minutes before the deadline and winning it all with “What if I Knew My Worth,” which you can read by clicking here and picking up a copy of the 1st Edition 2018 Lit Mag Magazine.

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!

Be Sure to Follow Jahkazia Online!

 

IG: @chamelaninaire 

Facebook: Jahkazia Richardson


Our first and second place winners are up on 12/2 and 12/4! They have a FULL interview coming and trust, you DON’T want to miss it.

Hit the subscription button!

Peace and hair grease!

3rd Annual Poetry Contest Spotlight 2019: Kiyana Blount Returns

Kiyana Blount is not new to the spotlight. She’s a returning winner, placing fourth in Yecheilyah’s 2nd Annual Poetry Contest 2018.

Blount is a hard working, dedicated and strong single mother who is on a journey of living through self love, self awareness and true divinity. She is seeking her true purpose and living it to make an impact on the world.

“Keep watching me I’m coming like the Lioness of the jungle
Hunting the wanting of my universal platform
Perspiring strength while I join the revolution for my evolution
Fighting my way through the shed layers of my old self”

-Excerpt from “Lioness Strength”

Kiyana! Good to have you back.

Lioness Strength is such a powerful title and we are excited to read the whole piece in next years Literary Magazine. For now, please tell us, what inspired your poem?

The major life changes that I had to endure this year led me to a path of realizing I needed to love myself more. Even though much had happened, I used those down moments to build myself back up and be the Goddess I am. Now I am working towards building my empire and legacy to leave my mark and leave for my SonShine to carry.

Right now I have my own business of promoting a healthy lifestyle and providing whole food natural products to help aid in weight loss and a healthy, natural you from the inner to the outer.

Eating healthy is big right now. How does this relate to or help you with your writing?

Working on my inner has really helped me to express externally. Taking the healthy approach along with strengthening myself spiritually and emotionally has made it easier for me to tap into my art and connect with my poetry on another level! I read my poetry and see the growth from being an unhealthy me to working towards and being closer to a better version of me inside and out.

Beautiful. Any books in the works Kiyana?

I am not a published author YET but I am working on some pieces. Peace, love and light Kings and Queens! You’ll see me soon!

You heard it here first people! Look for her. She’s coming.

 

Be sure you are following Kiyana online!

Web. kiyanablount.itworks.com

IG: @kueen7

Facebook: Kiyana Blount


Jahkazia Richardson is up Friday! Hit the subscription button so you don’t miss it!

Peace and hair grease!

3rd Annual Poetry Contest Spotlight 2019: Introducing Dondi Springer

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.”

Copyright©Dondi A Springer

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!

Instagram: @napalmjax

Facebook: @DSpringer76

Twitter: @MrSpringer76


Kiyana Blount is up on Wednesday! Hit the subscription button so you don’t miss it!

Peace and hair grease!