Book update: Looking for Beta Readers!

I just wanted to share with you guys that I am beyond excited about my upcoming poetry book! It’s still untitled (if you’ve followed me for a while you know at one point it was titled In the Making but I’m still deciding). It’s still missing a couple of poems but it is so close to the finish line. I have never been more proud of myself as I am with this endeavor. I truly believe in each of the poems that have made the cut. This is my most honest writing and it is kind of scary to think of so many personal moments printed for anyone to read. But I am ready.

I am aiming for an end of summer or early fall release. Things are on track for either at this point. More details to come, keep up here or follow me on twitter @talichaj or on Facebook Talicha J. for updates!

If anyone is interested in being a beta reader please send an email to talichaj@gmail.com

Happy International Women’s Day!

In honor of International Women’s Day one of my favorite poets, Sarah Kay, shared her poem This Type on her Facebook page. It’s a wonderful poem and I even used the last line as a writing prompt for FWF a couple of years ago. I want to pass this along to you guys because I think it is powerful. Please enjoy and don’t forget to share and go let the poet know how awesome you think her work is!

Awesome right? You can follow Sarah at:
Facebook: Sarah Kay
Twitter: kaysarahsera

If you wanted to read the (really bad) poem I wrote after reading this awesome one by Sarah you can read it here: Born To

Poetry Spotlight! Lydia Havens

Welcome to Poetry Spotlight! Today I want to share two beautiful poems by the ever-so-talented Lydia Havens. First up, My Lover Is The Sunlight, is a magnetic read. I think this poem is honest and brave and breathtaking. With lines like “We have hearts that are cracking whips across our insides” this poem is a powerhouse.

Read My Lover Is The Sunlight

Next up is Prayer to Dymphna, Patron Saint of the Mentally Ill. This poem leaves me feeling raw. Lydia writes: “Don’t let my body become another ripped up doctor’s note.” Come on! This poet is one to keep an eye on!

Read Prayer to Dymphna, Patron Saint of the Mentally Ill

They were awesome right? Be sure to let Lydia know just how much you appreciate her work:
Tumblr: http://southwestwitch.tumblr.com/
Twitter: @lydiastormborn

Poetry Showcase! Beck Cooper

Welcome to Poetry Spotlight! I wanted to share a poem by the talented Beck Cooper with you guys today. I got the chance to get to know Beck a little bit at a national poetry competition last year and not only is she an awesome poet, she’s incredibly sweet and funny and she made me feel like a part of the group. I’m pretty sure you’ve seen this video if you pay attention to my other social media sites because I KNOW I posted it, BUT in case you missed it I wanted to make sure that everyone has a chance to hear Too Big.

This is a poem that a lot people can relate too, I know it speaks to me a LOT. I have had many thoughts like the ones that she shares in this piece. I love the power behind Beck’s words especially when she is telling herself to be her own best friend. I think too often we get caught up in our insecurities and forget to be our own support systems. I hope you enjoy!

If you enjoyed this be sure to like the video which was provided to bestow upon us the brilliance of poets like Beck by the amazing Button Poetry.

Also follow Beck: WrittenByBeck (you can purchase her chapbook, Man The Harpoons! It’s awesome!)

This Grammys moment was so amazing I actually had to blog about it!

My favorite moment of The Grammy’s last night (and pretty much the only thing I didn’t fast forward through during the whole show) was the Chandelier performance by Sia. Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Sia- I have ever since the moment I first heard Breathe Me from her third album ten or eleven years ago, but Kristen and Maddie are what made this performance breathtaking. The way they throw themselves into this whole production is what makes me appreciate artistic freedom.

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Of course, I knew Maddie would kill it because that kid is phenomenal but Kristen was a huge surprise. It’s not that doubted her ability to portray such a serious character (while dancing at that!), I just hadn’t expected her to be so intriguing with it, so invested in this kind of character. (I know, shame on me for putting her in a comedic box, I don’t like to underestimate people so I’m not sure why I did so for her).

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I needed to watch every facial expression, every change in mood and every act of embracing or rejecting that change. I can’t describe in one word the feeling I had while viewing this for the first time but my chest was tight, my jaw was clenched, and I was hanging onto every movement. When Kristen mouths “I’m sorry”, man that gets me every time! To be aware that you are in an unsafe space, that you are doing something to yourself that is harmful, and to be willing to own it is hard. It’s even harder to apologize to yourself and to those around you for doing something against your best interest, so I found that moment really drawing me in.

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I don’t think this video should be watched just once, I think to fully grasp the complexity of emotion and expression you have to really look. It’s there and it’s raw and beautiful. I think Sia’s videos and live performances do a good job of starting a conversation on the subject of mental health (especially since this song deals with the topic of her past history with alcoholism). She invites us into the chaos that is her mind–that is the mind of many others out there. A lot of times dealing with emotions can be overwhelming, just like the pace of this video can be. You don’t know where to focus and even how to focus on one thought or feeling. I think the best thing is to take a deep breath and spend time exploring (although everyone is different so there may be more to it for some).

Enough rambling on from me. Watch, discuss, share and I hope you enjoy the video. Try to go in with an open mind!

Poetry Spotlight

If you don’t know who Megan Falley is, you’re missing out on life. I had the honor of taking an online writing course with Megan at the end of last year and it was one of the best decisions of my poetry career. If you are serious about improving your writing skills as a poet take her class!

The poem I’ve chosen to spotlight today is titled “Fat Girl” and it is a poem I relate to on so many levels and I know there are a ton of people out there that will find themselves nodding along with Megan. Not only is the poem relate-able but Megan’s approach is breathtaking. Her ability to move you with her poems is amazing. You find yourself on a journey every time she hits the stage. This poem will make you laugh and break your heart which I think is definitely worth a spotlight.

Also be sure to buy her latest book Redhead and the Slaughter King, it is wonderful and raw and you will find yourself wanting more long after you’ve finished because IT’S THAT GOOD! I can’t tell you guys how many times I’ve read this book without sounding obsessive. I will say that I love it as much as I loved Bang Ditto by Amber Tamblyn and if you know me you know that is A LOT.

For more Megan check her out at the following places:
Twitter: @megan_falley
Website: meganfalley.com
Facebook: Megan Falley Poetry
Tumblr: Megan Falley
Youtube: Megan Falley

Poem of the Week is back but, well just read the post.

Hello, welcome to Poetry Spotlight! For those of you who have followed this blog the last few years you know I do a thing called Poem of the Week (POW). Well due to a lack of time (work, life, finishing my debut poetry book, preparing for WOWPS) I haven’t had many opportunities to update on a weekly basis. I still want to bring you guys awesome poetry from all over so I’ve decided to mold POW into something more flexible. I will post a new poem as often as I can for you to listen to or read. The first post will happen this Sunday at 10 a.m.! I can’t wait for you guys to hear the talented poet I’ve got lined up for you! Thanks for the continued support, if you have any suggestions for a poet that should be featured in the Poetry Spotlight just leave their info or a link to their content in the comments section!

The affect of the Mental Illness Taboo

Mental illness is this taboo thing that people skirt over more often than not. As someone who grew up with a mother with schizoaffective disorder (a mix of schizophrenia and a mood disorder) I got to see first hand just how taboo the subject is. No one talked about it. It wasn’t the elephant in the room, it was a house filled with talking elephants, one that everyone quickened their pace when walking by. Is it awkward to talk about someones mental state? Yes, of course. But I think it’s also necessary. Absolutely so for the person with the illness, for the immediate family members of said person, and for the general publics consumption in order to breed understanding.

A lot of people fail to realize just how wide the reach of one persons altered mind can span. I spent the majority of my childhood embarrassed by my mother because I did not understand what was happening with her. No one ever made sure I knew there was a reason for her peculiarities and as a result I grew to distance myself from not only her, but from other people in general. I was a shy kid because I didn’t have answers to the questions I knew people would have if I ever opened up about my home life (in fact, I was 19 before I finally got a name for her disorder). In turn, I became clinically depressed around the age of 13 and wound up seeing a child psychologist.

I will say this, it helped to have someone to talk to. I still didn’t receive answers about my mothers condition but I did get an outlet for how I felt and it was nice to have someone to pour my life into without judgement. I am pro-therapy and I know it doesn’t work for everyone but I’d say give it a chance. In honesty, the first few sessions were spent in silence. My psychologist would ask questions that I didn’t want to answer and so we’d just pass the time. But one day, it changed. I decided to speak and as a result I started to understand myself better. So to anyone who is on the fence about going to talk to someone; just give it a chance, give yourself a chance.

I think we need to teach more about mental illness, to make it something people can talk about without worrying that it will come with a preconceived stigma attached. Mental illnesses are not going away, yes there are treatments for them and people can live normal lives but they are still issues. I urge everyone to educate yourselves, to at least learn that underneath the mental illness is a person and they have to live their lives the best way they know how. I think for a long time, due to lack of knowledge I mistook my mothers mental health as a defining factor of who she was when really it was only just a small part. Only towards the end of my mothers life did I realize that aside from the quirks of her disease she was pretty normal. She had her hobbies and things she loved and she was funny. Most importantly, she was human.

I’d like to write more about this topic in future posts. I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences as well. Thanks for reading! Lets continue the conversation in the comments section below or on twitter: @talichaj

I’ve Got Goals!

This year hasn’t exactly started off as planned –my mother passed away on the 12th after spending a couple of weeks in the hospital and then hospice. I am determined though, to stick to the goals I have set for myself, to live the life I desire because I know it does not last forever, or even as long as we think it should. So I want to share those goals and have a place that I can come back to in the future to see how far I’ve come.

1. Publish a book of poetry

I have been working on a poetry book for a few years now but it didn’t feel right until last year. I took an online writing course with the brilliantly talented Megan Falley and my eyes were so wide open afterwards. The class helped me find my “page voice”, which I think I just made up. By “page voice” I mean the way my writing speaks on page. I have never been stronger in my writing than I am today because I figured out how to delve deeper into words than I have in the past. I have hope that this is only the beginning and that I’ll keep improving in time.

That being said, I am almost done with the book. I think I’ve got about five or six more poems until it feels complete. I am so excited to share these poems with the world. It has been a really amazing experience to sit down, write, and come out at the end of it with something I just HAVE to read over and over again because it’s that good (shocking!). If you’d like a sneak peak of what to expect in the book you can check out Reasons Why Loving You Was More Entertaining than Watching Prime Time Television and My Favorite Photograph of Us published by Germ Magazine.

2. Compete Nationally

Last year I competed at the Women Of the World Poetry Slam (WOWPS) and the Individual World Poetry Slam (IWPS) for the first time. These were both such amazing experiences and I am so grateful to have been a part of them. This year I would love to go back to both and am on the right track so far since I’ll be competing in Albuquerque, NM for WOWPS in March! If you’d like to help me get there you can support me by purchasing my album In the Making!

3. Go on Tour

I want to travel. I want to go to as many open mic nights and poetry slams that I can. I want to share my poetry and meet people as passionate about writing as I am. My goal is to just go. I think the best way for a poet to be known is to be present. The details are a work in progress but I will make this happen. For booking information you can email talichaj@gmail.com

There are also a lot of smaller goals that I have and maybe I’ll share them in a later post. For now though, this is the game plan. I am doing these things on my own so if anyone has any advice or wants to help out in any way, thank you in advance. You can contact me via email or on any of my social networking sites.

To everyone who has a dream; do it, live it, don’t let it go to waste.

Twitter: @talichaj
Facbook: Talicha J.
Instagram: TalichaOff

Marching the Combat Zones We’re Supposed to Call Home (A brief free write)

A brief freewrite I did in regard to Black Rights. No title.

We have the right to remain
angry about corruption in the justice system.

To remain indignant about being profiled and shackled to an opinion of oppressors,
fired up as long as our people are being fired at.

To remain fed up with the notion that our lives are not worth an indictment,
on the front lines of this battle, marching the combat zones we’re supposed to call home.

To remain appalled by the lack of consideration for our humanity,
we have the right to remain.

We have the right to remain.

I read We’ve All Got Eyes, Man for #BlackPoetsSpeakOut

Talicha J.:

In case you missed this the first time around. Never forget.

Originally posted on We are all in the making!:

I wanted to get out there and DO something, participate in the change, lift the weight of the onslaught on justice with my own bare hands. But I didn’t know how. I kept asking, “What do I do?” and everyone kept telling me the best place to start was my talent, to raise my voice. In The Issues, Sharon Olds writes, “Don’t talk to me about Politics. I’ve got eyes, man.” That line plus the current state of our nation sparked this poem. So I thank blackpoetsspeakout for creating a place for us to make noise and demand change in a positive way. This is my voice, this is me saying I will not be silent. I will use my words to assist our cause.

View original

I read We’ve All Got Eyes, Man for #BlackPoetsSpeakOut

I wanted to get out there and DO something, participate in the change, lift the weight of the onslaught on justice with my own bare hands. But I didn’t know how. I kept asking, “What do I do?” and everyone kept telling me the best place to start was my talent, to raise my voice. In The Issues, Sharon Olds writes, “Don’t talk to me about Politics. I’ve got eyes, man.” That line plus the current state of our nation sparked this poem. So I thank blackpoetsspeakout for creating a place for us to make noise and demand change in a positive way. This is my voice, this is me saying I will not be silent. I will use my words to assist our cause.

I’m published online!

Hey! I’m really excited to share that one of my newest poems, Reasons Why Loving You Was More Entertaining than Watching Prime Time Television, was published by GERM Magazine and is currently on their home page!

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One of my goals for the year was to have a poem published and I am so happy to have accomplished it! I hope that you guys will head over to GERM and read this poem, leave some love and then check out some of the other content they have!

Read: Reasons Why Loving You Was More Entertaining than Watching Prime Time Television

In Response to the Upset over the Cosby Show Being Pulled from Syndication

I read this article and it really bothered me.

In response to the upset over The Cosby Show being pulled from syndication: I’d like to point out that TV land also pulled reruns of 7th heaven because of Stephen Collins. I support the pulling of these shows. Why should we allow rapists (proven or alleged) to have a place on our televisions, in our homes, available to be looked up to by those who are unaware of an actors personal life?

Has Cosby been found guilty of these allegations? No, but how many other men/women have not been proven guilty of a crime they’ve committed? The number of women coming forth with stories is ridiculous. Is there a quota that must be reached before it becomes real enough? If you’re looking for evidence, for a trial and a jury to give you a verdict to this then good luck. These cases are old, the statute of limitations is probably going to prevent that, although I’m not expert on law. It does not mean the allegations are not true.

As far as the other actors listed in this article as a reference, I get it. These men did bad things too, they committed crimes as well. Instead of trying to use them as an example of why The Cosby Show should still be airing (which is what I assume was the point of the article) maybe the desired outcome should be that we get actions taken to pull those other shows as well (which was mildly suggested by this article). The fact that the other men listed as examples are white has not eluded me. It’s unfair and racist and so on and so forth, to penalize Cosby and not the others, again, I get it. How about we figure out a way to handle these types of situations that covers all bases; race, gender and the nature of the crime. Why not push for a system to regulate situations like this in which a revered actor/actress commits (proven or alleged) a crime that is heinous, violent or detrimental?

I try not to roll my eyes when I read “…yanking reruns in which Cosby played a role suggests we can’t distinguish between acting and the real world.” Cosby is a REAL person who is alleged to be a rapist in the REAL WORLD. I don’t care if in the show he is just playing a character. In real life he is (allegedly) something else, something more vile and dangerous. It’s not that I believe The Cosby Show is “anything more than fictional entertainment” (that’s obvious) it’s that someone who was an integral part of that entertainment has been put in the spotlight (for years) as someone who has taken advantage of the bodies of women who did not consent. Again, I ask is there a quota, some minimum that must be met before we say enough? I watched that show  as a kid and enjoyed it like so many other people did. It saddens me to have such a negative accusation linked to it but I support the decision of TV Land to pull it.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you support the removal of this show from the re-run roster or do you think it should still air? Let me know what you think here or on twitter @talichaj.

Quotes from “Mitch Albom: Erasing Bill Cosby with the speed of light“.

I Watch Her Eat the Apple by Natalie Diaz (P.O.W.)

I was introduced to the poetry of Natalie Diaz while taking a writing class last month (more on the class to come in a later post!). We went over a few of her writings throughout the six week course and I really found myself loving the way Diaz phrases things. I admit, I had to read this poem a few times to really grasp everything which I think is okay. I’m learning that sometimes a good poem needs to be read over and over again because there is always some meaning that goes unnoticed initially or some connection that isn’t  made obvious right away. Anyway, enough chit chat by me, why don’t you go read the poem, just click the link below!

I Watch Her Eat the Apple by Natalie Diaz

 

I hope you enjoyed reading the poem! Here’s one of my favorite parts:

“She twists the stem, pulls it
like the pin of a grenade, and I just know
somewhere someone is sitting alone on a porch,
bruised, opened up to their wet white ribs,
riddled by her teeth—
lucky.”

Seriously?!?! Ah! I love it. That whole stanza gave me life.