Blog · General

August Updates

Hey everybody!

It’s somehow August already. This year is moving slow and fast at the same time. Since being quaranined, I have been able to do some things I wouldn’t normally do. For example:

  • I was one of Sundress’ readers in June, which (if you missed it) you can find here with a bit at the end talking about craft and the relationship to body. Some poems are straight from my book, and some are not.
  • I was a reader with Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review in June as well. I wish there was a link, but it was such a great, full night, and I was first!
  • I have been featured at Kahini Quarterly here, and you get three poems in one! All three poems are near and dear to me and speak volumes about the Black existence in the United States. (No, I will not stop talking about it until the problem is actually solved.)
  • In June alone, I sold 30 books! That number seems so small but it’s the start of a new life for me. In July, I sold all 20 of the copies I ordered, and even more people wanted signed copies of the books, so I had to order another set, which are almost all spoken for already! (and this is without me seeing July’s sale log from Amazon or etsy). I am floored at the support coming in. If you haven’t bought the book yet, but would like to, you can do so here. The one website has the links for the PDF, Kindle, and paperback versions. If you liked the book, please suggest it to your friends and leave a review on goodreads and/or Amazon.
  • In addition to all of the above, I’ve been able to exercise my Twitter fingers and meet some more amazing poets and form a collective, The Estuary Collective, with three other beautiful writers, and we plan on doing a lot in the writing world, including craft talks, readings, workshops, and more, so keep on a look out for that!
  • I also got a cance to do a lot of ancestry work, which has been fun, but I definitely want to do more and really dive deep ebcause the things I’ve seen have been both depressing and eye-opening.

I have also been able to think about what I really want in the writing world as well as from it. I’ve been compiling and revising other manuscripts, but I definitely want to be in the world for good. I want to do workshops and readings and craft talks on my own and actually get paid for it. I want to be a professor of poetry, but on my terms. If you all have any advice for that, please let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for coming along on this ride with me.

See y’all soon (hopefully)!

-A. Elizabeth

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One week later and…

I still can’t believe my book is available for purchase. It is available as a PDF, on Kindle, and in print. I never imagined that this manuscript would see the light of day, let alone already have four 5-star reviews across sites!

In addition to this Sundress Publications has invited me to be a part of their online reading series for this month, which you can find out more information about here. It’s on June 24th, 7pm EST. If you cannot make it, it will be recorded, and I will post about that in a separate blog as well once I have that information. It will be myself and two other writers, Cy Ozgood and Ever Jones. After we read, there will be a little time for a Q & A session afterwards if you had any “I gotta know” moments or questions. I will be reading a mix of this book and some of my other work, so please come and check it out, even for just a little bit. You won’t be disappointed.

If you also read it and liked the book, please leave a review on either goodreads or Amazon (both if possible). Also please share with your friends!

Thank you so much for reading and supporting my work!

And remember, Black lives still matter.

Blog · General

As a Black Woman, I’m Tired

With the death of George Floyd, I am so tired. Of the hashtags. Of the senseless violence. Of the hate. Of the fact that the police force and those attributed to them can get away with murder, even when it’s filmed, even when things don’t make sense. Of white people that are listened to without question resulting in possibly. Of white people who ask me to educate them of my lived experiences as a Black person instead of doing the actual research themselves; all it takes is a google search (I’ve done it.). Of white people who perform kindness and allyship in situations like this just to call their Black “friends” niggers behind their back. Of people defending racism. Of “All Lives Matter.” Of “Blue Lives Matter.” Of seeing dying Black bodies up and down my timeline or feed.

Of being told I “talk white.” Of saying my work is too Black, that I should be writing about other things. Of being frightened that the next time I’m pulled over will be the last time I ever get to pull over. One of my tail lights is currently out. I tried fixing it, but there is something wrong with the wiring and I don’t have the funds for it right now, so I’m scared of driving past the wrong cop. Of feeling my Black girl magic riding around with the windows down and Nicki Minaj rapping through my speakers. Of feeling this feeling.

Allies, use your voices for good. For change. Do not just stop after one thing and call yourself an ally. Continue the work. Check yourselves, check your neighbors, check folks on social media, and don’t be scared of being corrected. Be willing to listen.

Share love, y’all. Don’t let this man’s death (or Breona Taylor’s, or Aiyana Jones’, or Tamir Rice’s, or Ahmed Aubrey’s, or Mike Brown’s, or Eric Garner’s, or Trayvon Martin’s, or Emmett Till’s, or Sandra Bland’s, or Kendrick Johnson’s, or Amadou Diallo’s, or Justin Howell’s, or Junius Stinney’s, or Philando Castile’s, or Sean Monterrosa, or Freddie Gray, or Korryn Gaines, or any of the many others unjustly murdered) be in vain.

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May 2020 Super Update

Hi everyone!

I know it’s been relatively quiet on this front, and that’s for a few reasons, but let me start by saying that I missed you all! I’ve been focused on my career for the past year and doing more events, so I’ve had more time away from my writing than for my writing.

But since I’ve been away from you, I’ve had the honor of having these pieces published:

Check ’em out and leave a comment what you think of any of them below.

But most of all, I had a manuscript accepted from publication by Nightingale & Sparrow! It is a poetry versionbased on the prose manuscript I’d been talking about, previously, “For You, My Best Friend,” but this work is called you were supposed to be a friend, and you can check out the details of this work here. (In case you couldn’t tell, the featured image is the cover!) I am continuing the prose version as well as a space of reflection, so hopefully that will be picked up too once I finish all of the steps involved. But if not, I will say “Thank you” and walk away from it.

That is one thing I’ve learned during my time away. It is okay to let things go if they aren’t for you. Not just with poetry, but also with relationships, jobs, and material things. You have to protect your energy.

Aside from that, I have begun compiling a manuscript about family matters, and I am also looking for a place to publish my other mansucript that has a new title of “black has every right to be angry.” I have revised it, and it’s ready for the world. Will I keep it as a chap? I’m not sure, but I know it is worth being in the world.

Sending light and love y’alls way in this super trying time,

Ashley Elizabeth

PS – I will get better at posting!

Blog · General

March Madness

…and I’m not talking about basketball. (Cuz I mean, who am I kidding? Basketball isn’t really my thing, but if you take me to a court, all bets are off)

But before I talk about what is happening in March (and there is a LOT more to talk about than normal), I have to reflect on the first two months of 2019.

In January, I completed a 31 in 31 challenge with one of my littles. I came to I think 32 or 33 poem drafts, some I love, some that are going in the trash, some just depend on if I feel like revising it or not. I was a hard month for writing though, partly because some of the prompts from the list we chose to follow weren’t so friendly. We did, however, choose another prompt from a different list if we really got stuck. Only happened about two or three times though, so not bad for the most part. And I find that I circle around the same themes, but I am slowly exploring and expanding my topic list. Weird prompts do help though, so I’m grateful for the internet.

In February, I was still writing, but not as much; I’ve been focusing on studying for an exam I will be taking this Saturday. Pray that I pass because I do NOT want to pay another $146 if I fail, but Also because I’ve been really studying since January for this test. I need to pass; it’ll open up better opportunities for me. Aside from that, I have also been preparing mentally for March.

Some more great February news! I have a microchap out with Damaged Goods Press that you can find here. I’m not going to tell you what it’s about because the title makes it quite obvious, but I will say it is very blunt and to the point, but I adore these pieces due to their rawness. It’s an eight chaplet bundle, though, so not only will you get my work, but the work of seven other people as well! Sounds like a great deal to me.

And finally, we get to March. I already told you that I have an exam this Saturday, it’s the Praxis for English/Secondary Education. It’s kind of a big deal. I’ve been studying SUPER hard for this, and it would crush me if I failed.

Next up, I have a reading on Tuesday, March 12 at Charmington’s in Baltimore. You can find the facebook event here. I still have yet to come up with a set list (Sue me), but I’m sure it’ll be amazing regardless of the work I pick. It will be me and three other writers. This is my first reading of the year, so I definitely have the energy for it. It’s free, so come on down to Charmington’s!

My hubby’s birthday is also in March, and I have a few fun things planned for him.

Last, but certainly not least, I will be hosting a writing workshop called “Confessionals: Writing the Hard Stuff” on March 27th at Greedy Reads in Baltimore. I was excited to pitch the idea, let alone teach it! Last year, my big sister and Managing Poetry editor of South85, Mel, challenged me to write more confessional poetry. I’m not going to say it was easy, but it has helped me big time with some of the pieces I’ve been working on, not just poetry either.  It was also featured in a magazine!

I think that’s all for now, but let me know what your plans for March are in the comments. Hopefully your month is less stressful (albeit all good stress that I signed up for) than mine.

Blog · General

2019 Goals!

I don’t do resolutions, but goals are just as great! Here are some of my writing-specific goals for this year:

  • Keep writing
  • Keep submitting
  • Submit more than I did in 2018
  • Complete 3 30-in-30s! (One in January with my little, one in April for NaPoWriMo, and one for Zoetic Press if they have WLYA this year)
  • Write more confessional poems and pieces
  • Become a featured reader
  • Expand my writing themes past relationships and blackness. Hopefully compile a chapbook about family, but we’ll see how that goes.
  • Not give up on a manuscript as a whole. I may give up on individual pieces but overall, I’ll try not to give up on them as much as I used to. I have a steadily growing slush pile
  • Be more intentional about writing this year. Get more organized.
  • Not be scared to self-promote
  • Apply for MFA programs (laugh with me)

Feel free to hold me accountable to these things and ask questions/for updates on any of them. Or if you want to be my cheerleader, be my guest!

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It’s the end of 2018. Where did time go?

I’ve been slacking on updates and reminders and a little writing. This summer and fall have been absolute whirlwinds, both professionally and personally, but here are some things I am grateful for and some things I have accomplished in 2018:

  • I had my first poetry reading. Yes, it was a short reading. Yes, there were other readers there, but I was still chosen to stand in front of people to share my work. This was nerve-wracking and terrifying and I didn’t really look up much the whole time, but I did it.
  • I got a new job! I’m still wrangling children, but I’m in one location instead of all over the county. I may have less time for writing and editing during the day, but the work I do is incredibly rewarding minus the temper tantrums and talking back and physical altercations.
  • I’ve put together two new manuscripts. Though one I am simply using for personal reasons and probably will not mass produce it (Can’t share yet, guys, sorry!), the other I am starting to send out. Though it got rejected from one press already, the editor has chosen some poems to make into a chaplet and publish, so that is exciting! The chapbook as a whole might make a few people mad, but I don’t care. The subject wanted me to be honest, so now is that time. It feels like a punch to the gut, but they deserve it. I’m not playing nice anymore.
  • I’m learning to love myself and my work more. I’m editing poems from years ago, finding some potential, but I am also learning myself to know when poems just need to be dropped.
  • I reconnected with my big sister and we get to do work-shopping things. Same with my little sister. Hollins did some good.
  • I completed two 30-in-30s. I used to barely be able to do one. But daily writing exercises have definitely helped with getting things out, even if I don’t always like what comes.
  • A few of my favorite poems from the past couple of years have found homes, and I’ve also written a few new favorites.
  • I’ve applied to several fellowships and presses that I would have never applied to previously, and I’m starting to get serious about grad school and getting an MFA. I just need to find programs that will work for me.
Blog · FYMBF · General

I’m struggling and why that’s okay

Hey y’all,

So, first and foremost that 30 in 30 I did in April really did a number on me (especially since I wrote more than thirty poems), but guess what? I’m doing it again this summer as part of Zoetic Press’ challenge. this will be year #3 and they say third time is a charm right? Only this time (at least I’m hoping it works the way I planned), I’ll be writing more of FYMBF, one of the memoirs I’m working on, and it scares me. This book hurts to write now, so I can only think about what it feels like as I go deeper and deeper.

Imagine patchworking a wound shut with a rusted needle, razors, and duct tape only to re-open the wound with a knife and salt it with every word you write. Everything that comes out tastes like bile, sounds like skidding tires or 6th graders talking at high volume for hours on end with no window for relief or at least to open it to the world.

But all of this comes with the process. The hurt is temporary. This hurt is every piece of closure I wanted but never fully got. I’m creating a space With this book, a lot of things will be over. And people might hate me if I put it all out there. People might try to claim it was all my fault, some of which I already own up to, and some of which couldn’t be helped in that situation. People might not think I’m telling the truth, but I am. It’s my truth, and truth in itself is relative.

Oh the joy of being a writer, of telling stories that aren’t exclusively yours. Of falling in love with yourself and who you’ve become since.

I can’t wait for this story to be told.

 

Blog · General

NaPoWriMo 2018

I think I conquered this challenge. It helps that I do 2 free-writes every day Monday to Thursday with my kids, but hey, I still did it! And I actually got to poem 36, not 34 like the picture says. I just can’t believe that I did so well.

This is not to say that every poem I wrote last month is the best poem out there — not in the least!

BUT I am writing and experimenting and exploring different things in my writing. That is the most important thing to me right now in my writing journey. A lot of the work I’ve produced makes me think about books. Not chapbooks but actual books. Full-lengths. Several of the poems feature the same theme or can link together in some way, so over the next few months, I’ll be doing just that.

Blog · General

March Happenings and April Plans

Hi everybody! I haven’t had all that much to report recently as I’m been working two jobs plus running and working my own business (talk about BUSY), but here is what’s been shaking around and what’s going to be happening. Some of this is BIG news, so keep on reading.

In March –

Oh man, March has been a whirlwind. At the beginning of the month (sorry for the lateness, you guys), I got this poem published. It’s on the B-Side, but hey, a publication is a publication, and I will definitely take it. I’ve been working (read: staring at, then inching along) on a few projects and submitting different poems, and compiling different poem packets to send them out to potential presses. I haven’t had much success this month, other than the above publication, but I’m still pushing forward.

Coming up in April….

…. I have my first non-Hollins poetry reading! I am super excited for this despite my insecurities. I will be reading some of the work I wrote during my last month at Hollins and other work that shares the same theme of Baltimore. If you are local to the Baltimore area or don’t mind taking a drive up/down/whichever direction you’re coming from, the reading is April 6th, 2018. The event will be part of Highlandtown’s First Friday Art Walk series. You can find more information here.

Also, since I was pretty successful with last year’s 30 poems in 30 days as part of National Poetry Month (and then again last August as part of Zoetic Press’ challenge), I’m going to try it again. Cue the dramatic music. Let’s see how this turns out. My life is going to change during April, so I hope my creative mind can use these changes to my advantage.

Plus, it’s gong to be my birthday!!!

Overall…

I’ve been bouncing between wanting to give up writing, writing EVERYTHING, simply wanting a break, and needing a push to write. I think that working so much is draining my creativity, but I need to eat, so what do I do when I have nothing left? How can I continue when I don’t even know where I am?

Writing isn’t an easy business by far, but I want my dreams to come true. I’m going to keep grinding and hopefully take some more time for me and my craft. Maybe that’s all I need.