Posted in 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.

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Posted in 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.

Posted in Blog, General

It’s been a while

Hi everybody! it’s been such a long time since I’ve updated y’all. Well…. Here goes!

I’ve been doing….a lot of nothing. That’s not fair. What I mean is I’ve been doing a low of working and very little writing. With two jobs and my own business, I’ve abrely been scribbling on napkins, jotting notes in my phone, and doing free writes with my kids before their ELA lesson for the evening, but nothing concrete has really come.

I have gotten this poem published (Trigger warning for sexual assault, childhood sexual assault), and I will be getting a love poem published in Memoir Mixtape’s B-side for Volume Three.

I’m still looking for a press to pick up my manuscript and I am considering revising several of the pieces therein to make it better, easier to read and understand while keeping the rawness of black history and current events. Considering the juxtaposition on then vs now on the same page spread, but I’m still thinking about it. If it’s not picked up, then major revisions are going to happen. It’s daunting but still exciting.

In addition to poetry, I’m also writing some nonfiction/memoir stuff. I’m not focused on it, but when I do write for it, I just need to make sure that I write my truth regardless of who it may potentially hurt.

I’m doing what I can to get by. I’m still here, still breathing, just a little quieter.

Posted in Blog, Poetry

My favorite poem from this year

has finally been published!

You can access it here. (Edit: This link works on all browsers except Chrome)

I write a lot about historical black figures, but Emmett Till’s story touches me somewhat more than other people. My first poem about this particular moment is here.

For those that do not know the story of Emmett Till, here goes: Till was visiting relatives in the South where it was said that he whistled at a white woman in a store or something to that effect on August 24th, and word spread around town.

Upon hearing this, the woman’s husband, Roy Bryant, along with a few accomplices kidnapped Emmett Till from his home, had his wife identify him as her “attacker,” and drove him to a barn where he pistol-whipped and knocked Till unconscious. His body was then beaten, disfigured, shot and then thrown into a river, weighted down by a seventy pound fan.

Three days later, Till’s body surfaced, found by two boys fishing; he was too swollen and bloated to recognize. He was very badly beaten, he was mutilated, he was shot, and he was nude, save for a ring with the initials “L.T.” which is what they used to identify him.

His mother requested that his body be returned to Chicago and that his casket be open at his funeral, displaying her then disfigured fourteen year old son’s body for the world to see. It is said that you could smell his body from two blocks away.

His killers were acquitted (not surprising for the time), even though they body admitted to kidnapping him. Mamie (Till’s mother) “didn’t cry enough” on the stand. The jury was virulent in their racism and some even later admitted that they knew Bryant and Milam were guilty; they just didn’t think that killing a black man unjustly warranted the death penalty.

Decades later, Carolyn Bryant, the woman Till was accused of making advances toward, retracted her statement. Emmett Till died over a lie. He died because someone believed a white woman just because she was white, and he died alone and scared without living much life. This is what hurts.

He did not deserve this. No one deserves this, but these lynchings still happen today, just under a different name.

Posted in Blog, General

I’m 23.

Let me start by saying this is not to boast or brag. This is for me, for me to not feel too bad about where I am in life. I’m 23, just 23.

By the age I am now, I have done the following:

  • Graduated from college
  • Published 16 essays
  • Published 15 poems (well, 14, but one is scheduled for December)
  • Had a poetry chapbook accepted for publication (even thought the press closed, I’m considering it a win)
  • Became Assistant Editor for Sundress Publications
  • Got accepted into graduate school (even though I couldn’t attend)
  • Finished 2 fiction books (though I was 14 and 16 at the time and I would never, EVER publish them without heavy editing or at all, still a win, right?)
  • Became a mentor/big sister to several people
  • Started my own business

And I’m sure that I’ve left some stuff off of the list, but all of this is to say that I have to be kinder to myself. I have done a lot for being so young, and I don’t give myself the credit I deserve. I don’t allow myself to relish in the small things; I keep working and writing until “something better” comes. This is not healthy, and it’s not my time yet for things. It’s okay to not have it together all the time. Wanting something to happen before it wants to happen can be toxic, so I’m dropping the attitude of I have to accomplish X by Y age. (Well for the most part. Babies and marriage I definitely want by 30 so I can have a healthy pregnancy, but that’s besides the point.)

I’m 23. I can’t go back in time and change things, but I can be more positive for the future. I have my life ahead of me to make a difference. I woke up this morning. I need to relish in that.

Posted in Blog, General

October Update and Why I’ve Been So Low-Key

Hi everyone, and welcome (back) to my blog! I have a lot going on right now, so it’s time to spill. Get ready for all of this, the good and the bad.

I always preferred bad news first, so here goes.

In April or May, I hinted about crossing i’s and dotting t’s. I had submitted a poetry chapbook manuscript to a press in April and on that same day, I had it accepted for publication. I jumped at the chance, and I had never been prouder of myself or my work until that point. In May, that press gave me the month of September as a tentative publication date with the promise of working with another editor on the team to spruce of my manuscript, saying they would send a contract soon. Well, that never happened.

I hadn’t heard from the press since then, so I queried mid-August, like any other author would do. I was then told that the press would fall into a delayed publication schedule. I was fine with that, and I was still very eager about this book. In September however, my heart broke and some of my dreams shattered. The press was shutting its doors.

For months, I worried over this chapbook. I worried over potential covers. I worried about tone. I worried about offending upsetting white people. I then worried that I didn’t care about offending white people because I knew I hadn’t written anything wrong. I re-wrote history from a black perspective without rose-colored glasses.

This book was my baby. My first baby found a home on a whim, and I when I say a whim, I mean I compiled the poems, sent it out, and it got accepted on the very first day, within hours. I know, that was pure luck. I don’t think I will get that again. Don’t get me wrong; the poems are strong and decent and a few of them have gotten picked up for individual publications, but the news that I wasn’t going to have a book out this year was a definite blow and shock to my system.

My baby would not be hitting the shelves (or the internet) this year. It took me a week and a slight revision of the manuscript before sending it out again. I’m not sure if I want to keep submitting it. I’m not sure if this book is for me anymore. I’m not sure if it’s good enough. I spent hours on each poem when I originally wrote them. I got angry writing them. I still get angry reading them.

And now I’m angry that I’m back to square one: researching and writing and revising.

I keep telling myself that if it really wasn’t good enough, it wouldn’t have gotten picked up by anyone. Then I felt like a fraud. Then I realized that this happens all the time to people. I’m no special snowflake, though I’d like to believe that my circumstances were pretty special.

Also, for everything I’ve submitted to since, I’m getting rejection letter after rejection letter including a few fellowships I really wanted, which is also not helping my mood.

That’s enough bad, right? Time for the good since you’ve last heard from me.

I’ve picked up an Assistant Editor position with Sundress Publications, something I did not think would happen, but God works in mysterious ways. I was sought after for the position; I did not actively seek it.

Also, although the press from my chapbook is shutting its doors, its journal is remaining open, and they are publishing my second favorite piece from that collection in December, and the editor is super sweet.

One more positive thing is I’ve been leading a few therapeutic writing workshops here in Baltimore for Melony Hill’s Writing for My Sanity workshops. My first one was in August, but she has asked me to return in November and December for three of those workshops, so I’m excited about that. It has been an amazing experience.

I think that’s all of my good news, but if I think of anything else, I’ll let y’all know. I’m really just trying to stay upbeat and happy, or at least I’m just trying to keep moving forward. It’s hard at times, but I can do it!

Take care everybody!

Posted in Blog, General, In progress

On that 31 in 31…

August is over, and September is here. Time for a new school year and more learning and growing opportunities. I am excited for the simple fact of being able to be in spaces where I can learn from different teachers and kids. Each day I am in a building, I am absolutely humbled. Our kids are our future, and being an educator I still have the opportunity to learn with them and from them. I may not be a full-time teacher – yet! – but I enjoy everything that comes with the beginning of school.

But you aren’t reading this to hear me rant about kids and my excitement for the upcoming school year; you want to know how I did. I will list my goals for August one last time, then share my progress on them.

Goals:

  • Write at least 25 new poems/scenes
  • Apply for Fear No Lit’s Submerging Writer Fellowship
  • Successfully finish my second summer of teaching creative writing to little ones
  • Fleshed out some more scenes in¬†FYMBF

End Results:

  • I wrote 31 new poems and 1 continuation of a scene
  • I applied for Fear No Lit’s Fellowship
  • I completed my teaching summer with a perfect observation score and and almost perfect (47/48 if I’m remembering numbers correctly) score
  • I only fleshed out one scene of FYMBF, but that scene is strong and emotionally charged, leading into even more scenes, so I’ll take what I can get. (Plus 31 poems in 31 days – that’s a feat in itself! I’m not sure how/why I thought I could do both)

All in all, I didn’t do too bad. I have new material and new vision, new expectations, for my memoir. At first, I didn’t think I could accomplish this goal. Last year, I believe I ended up with 26 pieces. That’s not bad, but it wasn’t where I wanted it to be. In my personal 30 in 30 in April, I ended up with 28 out of 30. Again, not bad, but it was closer.

This year, completing 31 poems, I feel incredibly accomplished and blessed. I am realizing I have talent and drive. I am realizing that emotions can start to take a backseat, and I can become more objective in my work. I also realize that inspiration doesn’t always come find you; you have to go out there and seek it.