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.

Growth is Uncomfortable

I spent most of September reflecting on my writing and spending time with family. I’ve got tons of unfinished manuscripts in need of work and truth is they are hard to finish. I do not mean hard as in difficult to write. I mean hard as in finding the joy in publishing them.

I have felt bored with the monotony of publishing books. The support doesn’t feel the same. The blog doesn’t feel the same and now, even Self-Publishing doesn’t feel the same.

I am always writing, and I love publishing but I’m no Terry McMillan with millions of readers lined up to read my next book or any other author with multi-city tours lined up to guarantee that the next release will provide a change in routine. I do not mean this to sound pessimistic.

I am not giving up on publishing but those of you who have been Self-Publishing for a while may understand. No real change can get tiring. I have felt like King Solomon when he said, “the making of many books has no end and much study wearies the flesh.” (Ecc 12:12)

I feel myself transitioning to a level I do not as of yet fully understand.

Last week, the revelation came and while I know it’s not the only revelation on its way to me, it’s one I think important enough to share.

Growth is uncomfortable.

This is an exciting phase and every day I am reminded of its promise. Just recently a media specialist contacted me for something I cannot speak on at the moment. These kinds of moments provide me with the proof that I am not going crazy and that perhaps my name is being uttered in rooms I have not walked into yet.

Growth is like strength. It doesn’t feel you are being strengthened when you are in process. It doesn’t feel like growth when it’s happening. It feels uncomfortable and uncertain. I can feel myself changing in a way I never have before. I can almost reach out and touch it.

The next time you feel uneasy and uncomfortable, consider that perhaps, you are growing. Evolving. Blooming.

A little discomfort helps us to grow. The feeling is not fun, but it’s a big part of improving our personal development.

“Routines may make you feel at ease and in control, but what a constant routine really does is dull your sensitivities. Think about the times in your life when you’ve driven the same route repeatedly: after a certain number of trips, you start tuning out most of it. Have you ever had a trip to the office where you barely remember what happened after you got in the car? If you don’t get out of your comfort zone, you might find yourself tuning out much of your life on a daily basis. (Sujan Patel Entrepreneurs, Growth Marketer & Co-founder of Web Profits)

 

To keep from tuning out, I had to stop and think real hard about why I was feeling such discomfort and then I had to accept it, even as I watch people become distant and even as I strive to overcome my own limited thinking.

Brain research shows that putting yourself in new and unfamiliar situations triggers a part of the brain that releases dopamine, the “happy,” chemical. That part of the brain is also said to only be activated when we experience new things.

I don’t want you to think this post is about quitting. This isn’t about quitting. This is about allowing ourselves to grow/level up.

It is tempting to want to revert into that state of normalcy, to remain as we are. It’s easy to go through life unchanged out of fear that this new version of us won’t be accepted or that someone may accuse us of no longer possessing the same moral integrity as before. And how can we not think this way? We’ve been well-trained to think newness and change are inherently bad.

This is not the truth. Not all change is bad and since all change teaches us something, perhaps even change we perceive as bad is not so.

In the words of Maya Angelou, “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”

Few people enjoy the feeling of being uncomfortable and as we are now a few months away from 2020, time will not wait for us to catch on. My challenge for this month and the rest of this year is to get past that initial feeling of wanting to return to the norm, so I can grow and benefit from that discomfort.

I hope the same for you.

The 1619 Anniversary: 5 Things people still get wrong about Slavery

There is much more to be added to this list but these five are good points. Black History Fun Fact Friday returns to the blog this week. We will be revisiting some basics. Specifically, the End of Chattel Slavery and Reconstruction.


“In August 1619, the first ship with “20 and odd” enslaved Africans arrived on the shores of Virginia. Four hundred years later, we look back at this moment as the start of an enduring relationship between the founding of the United States and the unconscionable exploitation of the enslaved.

In a sweeping project published by the New York Times Magazine this month exploring the legacy of slavery, Nikole Hannah-Jones wrote, “[The enslaved] and their descendants transformed the lands to which they’d been brought into some of the most successful colonies in the British Empire. … But it would be historically inaccurate to reduce the contributions of black people to the vast material wealth created by our bondage. Black Americans have also been, and continue to be, foundational to the idea of American freedom.”

 

>>Keep Reading Here<<

No Whining Wednesday – It is Easier to Walk When It’s Not Raining

Wow. It’s been sooo long since we’ve had a No Whining Wednesday episode! I have officially fallen off. But, I’m back. If you are new to this blog be sure to click here to learn more about what NWW is all about.

The No Whining Wednesday Badge

 

I don’t open up much on social media. Not that I am hiding anything. It is just that social media, with a few exceptions, is not real. It is virtual reality. A place people go to hide their flaws, criticize others, and pretend that their lives are great. This is annoying and I find myself not wanting to be involved except in sharing my writing. I log in, post up and log off. Sometimes (every other month), I deactivate my Facebook account completely. Social media is good for business but it is an energy exchange like everything else. I have to cut it off like I cut off toxic energy. I have limited my use to business-related posts only with some motivation thrown in there. Today, I will make an exception and let you in, briefly, on what has been going on with me. I call this, “It is Easier to Walk When It’s Not Raining.”

For a few months, I have not been feeling well. I do not mean physically. I mean emotionally. I have felt unmotivated and uninspired. I had no real reason to feel this way. No one spoke badly of me (not to my face anyway lbs) and I have had no shortage of work. Instead, more opportunities came my way, but it seemed the more events I attended and the more work I did, the less excited I felt. I did not feel unexcited completely. I was and am thankful for the opportunities that come to me. I was just not over the top and I know I should have been. I know I should be. So, what gives?

Part of this reason is the lack of support I have received. This is only a small part (I know it is much deeper than this), but it is a part. As I reflected on myself and my work, it seemed the more work I did, the less support I received. Despite these feelings, I continued to book work, plan for school and post up about my events. I continued to send emails and update my socials. I continued to do this not to deny my feelings. Nothing goes away just because you ignore it. We must address things. We must address feelings. Energy/Spirits/Vibes must be rebuked, removed, accessed. I continued because when the sun is shining (metaphorically and literally), and the birds are chirping and the sidewalk is clear of obstacles it is much easier to walk. You can circle the block while humming your favorite tune and walk at your own pace. But when it rains, everything changes.

Walking in the rain is easier if you are prepared. If you have an umbrella or raincoat, boots, and good windshield wipers. But your vision is still blurry compared to when it is not raining and you will still have to walk or drive slower than usual. There is also the fear of being struck by lightning, trees crashing into homes and cars, and other factors we must consider during a serious storm.

When we are going through our most difficult times, we want to stop. I have wanted to stop tons of times these past few months. But we shouldn’t stop because these are the most important times. These times, when things are not going well and we feel down, are the times when we are being strengthened. These are the times when we grow the most. Anyone can drive or walk when it’s nice outside and nothing is wrong but not everyone can navigate a storm.

(Do not misunderstand me. I am not saying you have to be “fake positive,” when you are not feeling it. I am more so talking about not giving up when you come in contact with a bad storm in your life).

If you notice something beautiful happens after a good rain. Everything blossoms. The grass is greener, the leaves on the trees are fuller, and if you planted something, watch out! That something will grow tremendously. Therefore, instead of stopping when things are bad we should just keep going. We are not falling apart. As painful as it is, we are growing.We are being prepared, positioned, aligned.

If you have ever felt how I have felt, please do not stop. Just keep at it. Keep doing what you are doing. Be patient with yourself and have faith that your purpose will be revealed in time. It is always easier to walk when it’s not raining. As the saying goes, “everyone solid until put in hot water,” (Unknown).

It is the storms that ultimately reveal our strengths. From our level of preparation to our discipline and resolve. It is the storms that cultivate something in us and that prepares us for the next level.

Don’t run from the rain. Let yourself grow.

To Be Loved

Every living thing wants to be loved
We need it like the lyrics in our throats when the beat drops
on our favorite song
like the natural way our bones jump
and our legs twitch
and our hands move about
and we dance
Every living thing needs to be loved
like dandelions in a field trying to convince the world
that they are not just weeds
We hope someone will care enough to watch over us
And not transgress our boundaries
Won’t severe our flowers from their roots
Won’t pluck our souls
From its skin
We do not need to be picked and fussed over
We hope only, to be loved
To be cared about while breath
Still feeds our lungs
Hoping someone will love us intentionally
Like the giggles of a child
Free, raw, and innocent
Hope to be as valuable as the swell
Of a woman’s womb
and the protruding belly that everyone wants to touch,
but no one does without permission
The delicate miracle we all want to protect
and we hope to be miracles too
a surprising welcome worthy of protection
because every living thing
wants to be loved

5 Ways to Self-Edit Your Blog Post

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash
It’s been a hot minute since I’ve done a blog tips post. As fun as writing is, there is one thing that’s not so fun: The English language. As writers, though, writing and grammar go hand in hand. Usage of the wrong word or incorrect homophone use can change the meaning of a sentence or an entire poem! Accept/Except are different words with different meanings. Misuse them, and it changes everything. The same with Ad/Add, To/Two/Too, There/Their/They’re. If you are like me, you can’t afford to have an editor to proofread every blog post, but there are free resources we can use to help. Not only can you use these programs to clean up your blog, but you can use them to edit typos on your website or revise a finished manuscript.

1. Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is a powerful tool the more we learn to use it. Writers can use Word to create book covers, format books for print and so much more. My tip here is to draft your post in Microsoft Word before posting to the WordPress editor. Word will alert you to basic misspellings or grammatical errors as you are writing. You will notice spelling errors by the red wiggly lines and grammatical errors by the blue wiggly lines.

But Word has a bad reputation for not giving the right corrections…

2. Grammarly

Once you’ve written your post in a Word Document, you can then copy and paste it into the Grammarly editor to double-check for what Word may have missed. Grammarly is a software program that corrects spelling, detects plagiarism, and checks against over 250 grammar rules. There is a free version, but I recommend the premium version for more advanced features. Premium will alert you to more advanced grammatical errors to include overused words or misused words. My school gave us a free premium version of Grammarly, and I love it! There is such a significant difference between the free and paid version. The free version works fine, though and I use both.

3. ProWriting Aid

After you have made corrections in Grammarly, you can copy and paste the post into ProWriting Aid as a final run-through. ProWriting Aid is such an excellent program! Like Word and Grammarly, the program is another self-editing tool. ProWriting Aid will pick up even more errors and recommend changes. It also has a plagiarism detection tool for premium users. What I love about PWA is they are not stingy with the free version. The free version checks for repeats, structure, readability, fiction, and consistency. Yes, I said fiction! If you are using it to revise a novel, it will help track pacing and dialogue use.

4. Hemingway Editor

 I can’t say too much about Hemingway because I just started using it and I don’t use it often. The program is okay, and it’s not my favorite, but it’s still an excellent program to use to self-edit. Hemingway does an excellent job at detecting wordy sentences, and overused adverbs. While I prefer the other two programs, Hemingway is still a valuable tool (mainly when used with one of the other applications).

5. Save Post as Draft and Preview as Final Proofread

After you have run your post through Word, Grammarly, ProWriting Aid, Hemingway (or all four) proofreading the post is another great way to self-edit your post. Once I have drafted a post, I save it as a draft and then preview it on the computer and my phone. I find lots of typos this way. Sometimes reading over the post in this way helps to catch even more errors before clicking the publish button.

None of these programs will replace a human editor. ProWriting Aid once tried to correct the word “to” for “two,” but I did not mean the number two. I intended to write “to.” But at least you know you’ve cleaned up the basics enough to ensure your post is clear and reads the way you intended. When I publish blog posts, these are some programs I used to proofread my work and now, so can you. It will take more time, but it’s time well spent.


Want more tips? Be sure to check out the Blog Tips Page! Click Here.

I Want My Stuff

I want my truth
before slavery.
I want customs and traditions
without being conditioned
I want unconditioned
hair.
I want my stuff.
I want my Kings and Queens
my silver and my gold
I want my laws and commandments and my stories
retold.
I want do-overs
for how we’ve been done over
I want my children re-educated
Give me raised fists
and two-parent households.
I want functioning Black family units,
Afros, Black power, curly hair
and I want my cocoa butter skin.

I want credit for all my skills.
I want my midwives
I want my tribes
I want my inventions before you re-invented them.
I want Lewis Howard Latimer
not Thomas Edison.
I want my covenants renewed
I want my 40 acres and a mule.
I want my land rich as I left it
I want my spirituality accepted
I want my names changed back
I want my Proverbs and freedom songs
and I want my Moses Black.
I want what you stole from me
I want King Solomon Black and comely.
I want it all back.

I want my stuff.