Working While Writing

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The fall semester has begun for me and while I didn’t get a notable amount of writing done this summer I did manage to accomplish some things. Now that the semester has begun, I am going to spend the next few weeks trying to dedicate time to establishing a routine that will allow me to work on completing some fiction (before November) and to continue revising my poetry manuscript.

I am going to stick to the maxim of tackling one goal at a time so first and foremost, I need to find a way to balance teaching/grading/planning with dedicated writing time. I have these great stickers that mean that I can use my planner to set aside days/times for certain tasks; such as brainstorming, editing and revising. I’m hoping that by using my planner I will be able to stick to that routine. If that works, then I will be grabbing another planner or using a different type of planner where I can essentially use a section of it solely for writing tasks.

Then I’m going to start working on whatever fiction is next for me. By working on, I mean getting a concrete idea of what I plan to work on whether that’s an existing incomplete story or something new.  I will of course be sharing as soon as the idea has solidified and hopefully I will also be posting another update on the progress of the poetry collection (which is a solid draft at this point).


Big Mama Thornton- Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

This gem by Durham, NC born poet Honoree Fanonne Jeffers appears in the Blues Poems collection that I have been mining for inspiration. I’d probably passed it over a few times as I looked through the book but last month it caught my eye and I’ve been in love with it since then. I think that it is evocative of the blues not just because of the title but also the repetition and the richness of the stanzas. The poem is ripe with imagery and it evokes the sense of sound throughout. You can almost hear the confidence of the speaker and the music she makes as she walks. As always, I hope you enjoy!

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They call me Big Mama and I make

much music when I walk. I know

you want to find the easy way

down to these marrow-full bones,

but please don’t mess me over.

Don’t play me like a puppy, lick

my face then bark at me. Do

and the two-headed lady gone

have your address and your

unlisted phone number.


I weigh three hundred pounds

and all this is real, baby. Ain’t

nobody else living with me in this plush

house of mine. This just some deep

country meat padding your ride.


They call me Big Mama Thornton and the ground

Be strumming stones.

These fine hamhocks will knock

your black iron pot all night long

but please don’t mess me over.

Don’t play me like a puppy, lick

my face then bark at me. Do

and I’ll cut you so smooth,

I’ll be on that train to Chicago

Before you even start to bleed.


In the Mirror- Nikki Giovanni

This is why I write poetry! This poem is a testament, an homage to reflection and the way that family can be seen through us. I absolutely love the way that I felt upon reading it. Nikki Giovanni reflects my desire to pay tribute to my family and ancestors through my poetry. I have spent years trying to infuse my this same sentiment in my writing.
I hope that you all enjoy!
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I am a mirror

I reflect the grace
Of my mother
The tenacity
Of my grandmother
The patience
Of my grandfather
The sweat
Of my great-grandmother
The hope
Of my great-grandfather
The songs
Of my ancestors
The prayers
Of those on the auction block
The bravery
Of those in the middle passage

I reflect the strengths
Of my people
And for that alone
I am loved


The Promise

This poem was due to post on the blog last month. Please enjoy this late posting. It hasn’t been updated.

It’s that time again, July 24th, today would have been my mom’s 60th birthday. So I’m sharing a piece that I wrote. I started it last week but it’s basically the coupling of two different pieces. It’s very rough but I’m posting it just the same.

Below is a picture that I took a few years back. The picture of my mother and I was taken during Mother’s Day 2004 or 2005.

In the seconds, minutes, hours after…
I paid testament with tequila, laughter and glances at the mirror
Found myself tracing the moles on my face seeking solace
Wore bright colors
To emulate you
Until one day, Got to Give it Up
Reminded me that the loss
Can’t wipe out the memories, joy and love

Poetry Collection Update

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Sometimes things just happen randomly and that’s how this whole compiling a poetry manuscript came about. I have been saying that I wanted to do this for at least two to three years but I kept putting it off even as I edited the collection of one of my former students. And when another former student published. And again when the first student asked me to look over her second collection. And again when I was talking to someone as I worked on planning a literary event. Those things felt like signs.
Every year, I try to compile a list of things that I want to write/finish. This poetry collection has been the first thing on my list of works to complete  even when I wasn’t making any moves to cross it off. I even posted about the idea back in 2016 because at the time, I really wanted to do it. And still, I failed to make moves towards compiling it until this year. But as of today, I have a 40 poem draft sitting on my laptop, external hard drive and most importantly in my hands.
However, as I went through the manuscript, my count kept coming up one short as I worked on my table of contents.  It was only then that I realized that one of the poems closely related to another one. I subconsciously omitted it when I started transferring and ordering titles for the table of contents.  As a result, I spent the early hours of yesterday (1 a.m.)going through back up poems to see what I had to replace that previously published poem.
This led to the creation of a new poem that may or may not make an appearance in the book or on the blog. It also led to the realization that my mother’s birthday poem for this year never published so that will make an appearance here on Saturday.

The giver(for Berdis)

This post is a bit later than I planned to share it but I was caught up in grading and then setting up for another course. Today is the birthday of renowned author, poet, essayist, civil rights activist, and human being James Baldwin. As a means of paying homage, I am sharing my favorite Baldwin poem and quote.
“Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.”
If the hope of giving
is to love the living,
the giver risks madness
in the act of giving.
Some such lesson I seemed to see
in the faces that surrounded me.
Needy and blind, unhopeful, unlifted,
what gift would give them the gift to be gifted?
          The giver is no less adrift
          than those who are clamouring for the gift.
If they cannot claim it, if it is not there,
if their empty fingers beat the empty air
and the giver goes down on his knees in prayer
knows that all of his giving has been for naught
and that nothing was ever what he thought
and turns in his guilty bed to stare
at the starving multitudes standing there
and rises from bed to curse at heaven,
he must yet understand that to whom much is given
much will be taken, and justly so:
I cannot tell how much I owe.