Poetry Out Loud

April marks the observance of National Poetry Month and an explosion of “Poetry Out Loud” events. Poetry Out Loud is a contest that encourages young people to learn about poetry, enhance their public speaking skills and increase their appreciation for poetry’s impact on society. It is cousin to the highly acclaimed “Brave New Voices,” which if you haven’t witnessed it, you must. It is truly something special.

Although the focus for both Poetry Out Loud and Brave New Voices is on young people, many adults have embraced Poetry Out Loud especially and twisted it into spin-off events. These events have included poetry discussions, readings, open mics and more. One such event occurs this Friday, April 24, in Dallas, Texas. The Writer’s Block, a neighborhood or block of African-American writers, presents this event, bringing to the stage Slam Master Rock Baby.

Rock Baby

Roderick “Rock Baby” Goudy is viewed by many as a natural performer. His explosive performances, built on his distinctive style of comedic poetry, captivate audiences from beginning to end. A combination of thoughtful words, upbeat rhythms and amazing vocals has earned him headliner as well as supportive roles at events held at colleges, comedy clubs and poetry venues. Rock Baby is a HBO “Def Poetry Jam” favorite, and the recipient of numerous awards and rankings, acquired in performance poetry and slam competitions. For ten consecutive years, he has served as Slam Master for the Dallas Poetry Slam and consistently earns a position on the Dallas Slam team representing Dallas at local, regional and national competitions.

I have seen Rock Baby perform and was blown away. He is truly engaging and amazing! If you’re in the area, come on out and enjoy the show. If you’re not, check out these clips of Brave New Voices performances.

Event Details:

Friday, April 24, 2015

7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Half Price Bookstore – 5803 E. NW Highway, Dallas, Community Room

Free admission; Family-friendly fun

MC’d by Gary L. Hawthorne, Poet and Author of Poetic Rhythms for Life’s Moods

D.E.A.R.

DEAR

Welcome to D.E.A.R., a month long initiative that encourages everyone to Drop Everything (cooking, shopping, Facebooking, texting, gardening, video gaming, etc.) and Read. D.E.A.R. kicks off every April 12, the birthday of author Beverly Cleary who immortalized D.E.A.R. in her Ramona Quimby books. Although D.E.A.R. is celebrated throughout April many continue the enjoyment throughout the year.

To celebrate D.E.A.R., schools, communities, individuals and families call a halt to other activities, grab books, and read, read, read. Some even organize read-a-thons, book discussions, reading trees, book drives, and more. Personally, I plan to drop as many errands and lunch commitments as I can get away with as well as non-essential housework (Who likes housework anyway?) and read the three poetry books (it is National Poetry Month also!) I recently purchased as well as a tribute book to Dr. Maya Angelou, whose birthday was April 4.

Ann’s D.E.A.R. Reading List

“The Walmart Republic” by Quraysh Ali Lansana & Christopher Stewart

“Poetic Rhythms for Life’s Moods” by Gary L. Hawthorne

“Abide in the Spirit of Change” by Hayward Bethel, Frances Phillips Lee & Antoinette Franklin

“My Journey with Maya” by Tavis Smiley & David Ritz

How about you? What activities are you willing to give up to drop everything and read? What books are waiting for you to crack open and enjoy?

Hear Becky Roar!

Unfortunately Women’s History Month (March) has ended but I’ve found a way (aha!) to keep the spotlight on women history makers while also acknowledging National Poetry Month (April).

National Poetry Month

I am blessed to have met several women poets who are amazing wordsmiths and lovely survivors. Two in particular are Becky Baggett and Serena Wills. I asked these two poets the same question I asked Lovenia Leapart and Carol Balawyder, two women writers that I featured in March. That question: what woman/woman writer influenced you and/or your literary career? Both Becky and Serena agreed to answer the question in article form and share their articles with me. I, in turn, am happy to share them with you. First up is Becky.

Becky blogs at Sweet Alchemy Poetry Farm and there you can enjoy some of her poetry as well as her article on Adeline Hornbek, pioneer and woman history maker. Click here for a treat…https://sweetalchemypoetryfarm.wordpress.com/

Poetry

Hear Carol Roar!

I am continuing the Women’s History Month celebration by sharing an article written by Carol Balawyder.

Carol Balawyder

Carol is a fiction and non-fiction author who writes about things that matter to her such as justice, mid-life dating, grief and writing workshops. She also publishes several blog series: How I Got Published, Femme Fatale, Nobel Prize Laureates, Writers’ Desks and Ten Great First Dates. Her recent book-length works, Getting to Mr. Right and Missi’s Dating Adventures are receiving starred and high-praise reviews from readers. I know this reader (me!) personally enjoyed both books and can’t read more from this talented lady.

When I asked Carol which woman or female writer had the greatest influence on her literary career, she, like so many others, had a list yea-long. But after much thought, she settled on one person. Read on to learn about her greatest influencer…

Sara Paretsky

Sara Paretsky

Honoring a History Maker

by Carol Balawyder

There are so many women writers who have inspired me and from whom I’ve taken something and applied to my own collage of writing. They range from Jacqueline Susann to Nobel Prize Laureates. But no writer, whether male or female, has had such an impact on my choice to write crime fiction than Sara Paretsky.

In 2011 Paretsky was named Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. She is the recipient of many awards, including the prestigious Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for lifetime achievement from the British Crime Writers’ Association. She is also considered the founding mother of Sisters in Crime, an organization which supports and promotes women in the mystery field.

Traditionally in noir fiction, women were either helpless sex symbols tempting the man (usually a detective) into illicit behavior or they were portrayed as cold and selfish. However, through her V.I Warshawski private investigator, Paretsky transformed the role and image of women in noir fiction.

V.I. Warshawski is no helpless femme fatale. Nor does she fit into the Chandleresque female role of vixen, vamp or victim. Warshawski is a woman who isn’t defined by sexuality and needs no rescuing.

She is physically tough but no bully. Courageous and yet self-doubting. She is introspective and has a strong moral conscience. Warshawski is smart and well-educated, having attended university on an athletic scholarship to earn a law degree and worked in the Public Defender’s office before becoming a private investigator.

Sara Paretsky created the first credible female investigator in American crime fiction –  a feminist detective with high ideals. One who is concerned about the effects of racism, classism and sexism. She is out to right social wrongs most often found in the crook and crannies of white-collar crime. Paretsky, through her sixteen bestselling V.I. novels (and still writing), has made it her mission to speak for those in society’s margins who are underheard.

For that, I believe, she merits honor in Women’s History Month.

References: (http://scholars.wlu.ca/etd/3/)

(http://www.saraparetsky.com/)

(http://www.sistersincrime.org/)

Thank you Carol for sharing your thoughts on women history makers, and specifically Sara Paretsky. I had no idea Paretsky challenged the noir crime fiction status and thereby changed the genre for all times. Good for her; good for us, women; and good for the world.

If you want to learn more about Sara Paretsky, visit her website by clicking here. To learn more about Carol, visit her website here.

Tour through Blogland

tour-through-blogland-2[1]

Thank you, Carol Balawyder for inviting me to be a part of the Tour through Blogland experience. Wow! What a pleasure to participate. The exposure to interesting blogs, writers and writings has been enormously enriching.

Carol Balawyder Carol Balawyder, Writer/Author

Carol and I met, obviously through our blogging and in the year we’ve been online cohorts, I have discovered that she is a diverse writer with publishing credit in women’s fiction, memoir and crime writing, making her an accomplished fiction and non-fiction author. On top of her writing talents, she is also a welcoming and supportive person. I have enjoyed learning about her and her accomplishments, and I am so glad our blog paths crossed. I can’t wait for the day I meet her in person! I know it will be a blessing. Until then, I continue to enjoy her features on www.carolbalawyder.com and I hope you’ll take the time to link over and familiarize yourself with her and her latest works, Getting to Mr. Right and Missi’s Dating Adventures.

gettingtomrright_kindle_small15Missi's Dating Adventures

I’ve read both of her books and found them to contain insightful commentary on some of today’s relationship issues…and not just romantic relationships. Her works are important and engaging and I think you’ll agree with me once you have read them. Thanks Carol for inviting me into your world and for your contributions to the literary world.

Carol and some of the rest of you know that I’m not big on rules so I was glad to see that there were only a few requirements to participate in a Tour through Blogland. They are:

1. Pass the tour on

2. Give the rules to the other blogger and a specific Monday to post

3. Answer four questions about my creative process

Okay, simple enough; I can handle that. So without further delay, I present to you a blogger/author who I greatly admire and to whom I am passing the tour opportunity, followed by my responses to the creative process questions. I hope you enjoy!

meet-the-author

Serena Wills:  Poet, Essayist and Inspiration/Self-help Writer

    swpic

When I thought of all the bloggers with whom I could share this experience, Serena rose to the top. Not only because of her recently released poetry book, Reconstruction:  Pieces of Life, Volume 1, A Poetry Book, but also because she is an amazingly productive, multi-faceted and inventive writer. Also, I settled on Serena because she lives her life as we all should:  combining grit, faith and goal-nurturing to overcome adversity (that occasional blip that happens in every person’s life). Read her poetry book and you’ll get a glimpse into the challenges she has had to overcome and how she overcame them.

Reconstruction

Click here to access her site, and we can all look forward to her Tour through Blogland post in April or May (set date to be communicated).

Questions about My Creative Process

  1. What are you working on at the moment? My friend Renita likens the job of today’s writers to the juggling team of Vova and Olga, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljnmYQ5NJjQ. Their job is to keep all of the balls, clubs or whatever they are juggling in the air. So, like Vova and Olga, I am juggling many items that include:  a blog; a memoir; marketing and promotions for “Fuller’s Curse” and “Voices from the Block;” a non-fiction personal development book; a children’s book; the programming for a non-profit organization; and involvement in three writers groups. I try to work smart to keep all of these from crashing to the floor, but some days it’s a real struggle. Now, really, truth be told, what I should be working on is “Tremont’s Curse,” the sequel to “Fuller’s Curse,” but that’s an entirely different juggling act that is too exhausting to think about right now.
  2. How does my work differ from others in my genre? This is a tough one because I write in so many genres. “Fuller’s Curse” is a horror fiction novel. “Voices from the Block” features two mainstream short stories. And “The Devil Went Down to Georgia, Again” is a dark short story to be featured in an upcoming anthology (spring 2015). Plus, as I shared earlier, I have a children’s book in the illustration process, as well as a memoir and a sequel in the drafting stage. So I’ll lump all of my works together, strip away the genre classifications, and say that the main focus with many of my works is to blur boundaries and pummel perceptions in an effort to make people think about the labels we attach to people, places and things. I attempt in my writings to push readers beyond the obvious to see what else can be gleaned even if it makes them uncomfortable.
  3. Why do I write/create what I do? Stories, ideas, characters, questions, titles come to me and will not depart until I have locked them down on paper. I have had an idea for a play incubating in my head for 10+ years and yet I cannot remember what I ate for breakfast. So why do I write? Because I don’t have a choice. I have to write. Even before I was born, writing chose me and I choose to answer the call. Why do I write what I do? Because I am a creative who is fed by life experiences, and those life experiences translate into written works that take the shape of different genres and forms.
  4. How does my writing/creative process work? The creative process is as mysterious as the Bible so I’ll just respond to the writing process. As stated earlier, ideas, questions, titles, characters and such flow to me like city water through pipes. Idea generation is the easy part. What’s hard is committing words to paper:  making myself sit down to write, anchoring myself to the chair, and creating the right string of words. So like other writers, I have learned tricks to make the writing process less strenuous. Like…ending a writing session at the height of dialogue or action; outlining the beginning, middle and end of a scene (I write scene by scene in linear order); reading a quote or inspirational piece at the start of a writing session; setting up a reward system for number of pages written, scenes completed, etc.; capturing story notes on a separate document that I refer to when I’ve written myself into a corner; writing and editing the same scene a minimum of four times; making my final story edits the old school way (on paper with red ink); and mostly, praying a lot for help.

Hear Lovenia Roar!

LoveniaLLovenia Leapart, Writer, Author, World Citizen

Meet one of the most courageous writers I know…Lovenia Leapart. Some years ago, Lovenia and I belonged to the same writers group. We clicked on so many levels that even though time has marched on and many miles separate us, we have remained connected. I am so proud of her and all she is accomplishing, so much so that when I considered women writers to profile this month along with the woman history-maker that they admire or were influenced by, I thought of her. Below is Lovenia’s article and I’m sure you’ll be as impressed and inspired as I am.

Wrapped in Rainbows

Most people know Zora Neale Hurston almost exclusively in terms of her writing, but not many know her as an adventurer. At a time when most women lived lives of quiet domesticity and it was extremely rare for blacks to travel internationally, Zora Neale Hurston, driven by her deep and enduring curiosity about people and culture, traveled alone throughout the deep South (reportedly carrying a chrome-plated pistol for protection), and spent time living in Jamaica, Haiti and Honduras. It was through reading Valerie Boyd’s exceptional work (aka masterpiece), Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston, that I was able to really gain a true understanding of the fearless kind of way in which Ms. Hurston lived. And ironically, soon after reading this work, I found myself entertaining opportunities to go abroad to live and work. Needless to say, I had to deal with a myriad of fears that threatened to keep me from doing what my spirit was calling me to do. But having read about Ms. Hurston’s travels, it was clear that there were times when Ms. Hurston found herself quite outside of her comfort zone in these foreign lands, and at a time before cell phones and internet access could have cushioned the fallout from any number of misadventures. Reading that, I thought, if Ms. Hurston could follow her heart’s urgings and live so boldly in her day, in this time of modern technology surely I can find the internal wherewithal to do the same.

I did. So off I went to China, not knowing a drop of Chinese and not having the slightest idea about what to expect from myself or the culture. And the trip blew my mind so wide open that I have been irrevocably changed by the experience. So, beyond sharing a love of the craft of writing, I also feel a “kindred connection” with Ms. Hurston that now includes a passion for adventure, exploration, and discovery that comes from traveling and living internationally and off the beaten path.

It often takes tremendous courage and internal fortitude to break away from the herd and go after one’s dreams and live life on one’s own terms. To honor that, Evelyn Bourne and I have created a podcast called Working Your Mission, which is an interview series that highlights people who are making a living doing work they love. Through this project, we hope to provide inspiration and useful advice to others who would do the same. I think all artists have within them an innate level of fearlessness (otherwise, we simply could not do the work that we do) and I’ve come to believe that allowing that fearlessness to unfold in areas of our lives beyond our work not only makes us better artists, but ultimately, more fulfilled and self-actualized human beings as well. Zora Neale Hurston certainly did that, and the bold and courageous way in which she lived her life continues to give me inspiration to do the same.

Lovenia is the author of the paranormal romance novella, Marked by Temptation. She is currently at work on the sequel, as yet untitled, and is planning to release her novel, Consolation Prize next spring. She partners with Evelyn Bourne on the Working Your Mission podcast series.

Tour Through Blogland

Carol, a diverse and talented writer-blogger-author-all/around/amazing/person posted an article (click on the link below) on her site that I am pleased to share. I appreciated learning more about Carol and her writing plans/projects and I also appreciate the enormous shout-out. Thank you Carol and I hope you all check it out for yourself.

Tour Through Blogland.