August 2023 Authors
C h r o n i c P o e t & W r i t e r
What inspired you to start your journey as a poet?
I have been writing since I can remember. I started with current events. Then, I created fantasy, and fiction worlds in my earliest memories. In 2012, I went on a writing retreat. I had submitted both short stories and a few poems. I didn’t think much of it. During my time at the retreat, I became obsessed with poetry. Both writing it and reading it. Ever since then, poetry has had my heart. Since then, I have traveled across the country competing, hosted my own events, and led workshops. Above all, I practiced, practiced, and practiced.
Can you give us a synopsis of your poetry book Homecoming?
Homecoming is my newest (and my favorite) collection. Homecoming tells the story about a survivor of childhood trauma. It is truly a journey of healing. The book begins with poems about running from the places, people, and things I once called home. Eventually, I recognize I cannot outrun my own memories. I like to say you don’t fake it until you make it. You have to face it until you make it; and so I do. I face the worst of it before coming out on the other side. Different, but also more whole. The collection ends with showing how I am building a new home and a safe home.
The main goal of Homecoming is to welcome childhood trauma survivors home. A home full of messy mosaics, but a home full of safety.
"Eventually, I recognize I cannot outrun my own memories. I like to say you don’t fake it until you make it. You have to face it until you make it; and so I do. I face the worst of it before coming out on the other side. Different, but also more whole".
Tell us more about your poetry book When I Bleed.
When I Bleed is a collection about the devastation that endometriosis causes. The book does not shy away from the dark, the taboo, and the painful.
Endometriosis impacts 200 million people around the world. Endometriosis makes it as common as asthma, or diabetes, but it is rarely talked about. Endometriosis causes full-body symptoms, and it is as painful as labor, or a heart attack. In fact, it is one of the top 20 most painful conditions a person can experience (NHS, 2018). This book aims to bring endometriosis to the forefront. To share the wide reaching impacts of endometriosis on the individual, relationships, and even the world at large.
I waited 11 years to get a diagnosis, despite being hospitalized for the excruciating pain as early as middle school. Words can be a life raft in the depths of destroyed health. These poems depict endometriosis as accurately as possible. These poems explain the full-body, whole life, physical, and mental toll this illness takes. These poems exemplify what endometriosis has taken away from millions of us. Also, it shines a light on the amazing community of warriors who keep fighting every single day.
In the end, I want to create a space where others with endometriosis feel safe and seen. Something they could share with others and say, “Please, see me”. Also, it provides factual information, and resources at the end. I made the e-book $0.99 so it can be as accessible as possible.
Are there any challenges you've had to overcome as a poet?
Being a disabled poet has truly shaped much of my writing and my identity. I love poetry because it is a short form. Often, I can get out a first draft quickly, before fatigue and brain fog overtake me. Even learning to give myself the rest and care I deserve has been difficult. Often, I want to go go go, write write write, and publish things at a rapid pace. I have many creative ideas and art projects. I am learning that I can give myself time to accomplish my goals. I am learning to slow down, even when my brain is racing with creativity, which has been my biggest challenge.
What are some words of advice you can give to future poets who want to publish a book?
Your story deserves to be told. Spend time editing and honing your craft. Don’t hold yourself back due to fear or hesitancy. It is okay to make bad art, or to look back and say wow! I have improved so much since my first book. That is good! Make the art, share the art, and keep making art.
"Your story deserves to be told. Spend time editing and honing your craft. Don’t hold yourself back due to fear or hesitancy. It is okay to make bad art, or to look back and say wow! I have improved so much since my first book. That is good! Make the art, share the art, and keep making art".
Are there any authors who have inspired you?
The list is endless! There are so many incredible artists and authors out there. I will try to limit myself here. A few authors that have inspired me include Kim Addonizio, Alecia Beymer, Seneca Basoalto, Carl Sandburg, Sylvia Plath, bell hooks, Lisa Olstein, and Dorianne Laux.
Some of your poetry books talk about trauma. Can you leave our readers with one daily advice that can help them to navigate trauma in their own lives?
Figure out what makes you feel grounded first and foremost. Is it mindfulness of your body, or is it easier for you to be grounded in your senses? Listen to different types of grounding exercises on YouTube. Once you feel grounded, you can start to find what makes you feel safe. Be gentle with yourself. Finding safety means seeing what made us feel unsafe with new eyes. Don’t rush, just keep grounding yourself in the present, where you are safe.
What topics do you talk about on your podcast Baked and Bookish?
Each season we pick 10 or more books to read. My cohost and I get baked and talk about the books! It's been such a great way to discover new books, and spend time with my best friend!
Way off topic! You have really cool hairstyles! What is your favorite hair color?
Oh, you’re the sweetest! Thank you! I have had just about every color. I am always drawn back to purple for whatever reason. Also, I loved blue and orange! Outside of writing, what are some other hobbies that you enjoy? I used to really love hiking and being outdoors. Much of that has shifted since becoming disabled. I still love the outdoors. My fiance grew an incredible garden on our patio! I love to sit outside with him while he works on the garden, and I read. My main hobbies include: reading, petting my cats, cooking, scrolling the internet, disability advocacy, and spending time with my loved ones.
Where can people find your books?
My books are available anywhere you like to buy books. Your local bookstores can order the books. The books are available at places like Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
D e m e s h i a
" L a d y D e e "
B r o w n
Author, Poet, Pulitzer Prize Applicant
What inspired you to start your poetry journey?
I’ve been tending to my poetry garden since I was a little girl. My grandma taught me how to read and write before I started Pre-K. My favorite books back then were romance novels because there were bookshelves full of them all over the house. That’s probably why until this day, erotic novels are my favorite.
At age 5, the first poem I’d ever written was published in the local paper. That same day, one of my teachers, (A white lady who also let the white kids drink first out of the water fountain after recess,) looked me in the eyes and told me, “Being a poet is not a real job". I believed my teacher.
I never stopped writing, but I did stop sharing my poems. I didn’t see the point of sharing my poetry if I couldn’t make a living off of it. It wasn’t until after I published my first book at age 25, that I was finally able to heal that insecurity, and start sharing my poetry again. I specialize in writing spoken word poems that heal my insecurities. That is why they are so powerful.
" I specialize in writing spoken word poems that heal my insecurities. That is why they are so powerful".
Tell us more about your first book Unscripted.
While I may have started off writing poetry, that same year I also started writing short stories. My first story was about how everyone spoke in numbers instead of words. I am obsessed with languages and the many different ways people communicate, including sign language, art, and even telekinesis. The language of numbers is a form of communication that came naturally to me. I always understood that the number 1 means leadership, the number 2 means relationships, the number 3 is the number of crowds and creativity, and so on.
What I didn’t know was that there was a name for the language of numbers until I started working for a radio show called Real Talk Radio in New Orleans. Someone left a book about Numerology in the studio. I stayed up the whole night devouring every word in total shock that the language I thought I made up, is actually a sacred language discovered by the famous philosopher, Pythagoras. (The man that coined the PythagorasTheorem A2+B2=C2 in algebra).
I spent the next three years practicing the art of Numerology on thousands of people for free. Testing it, studying it, and looking for unique value within it. I was hooked. From my research, I realized that most of the people I gave Numerology consultations to had no idea of their natural talents and abilities. They were mediocrely using their skills in jobs that didn’t exploit their natural skills at all! Because of this, they felt they had no purpose. I knew it was my calling to make them aware of their Life Path Number so they could “get on track” so to speak. I used my natural writing ability to help them.
"I knew it was my calling to make them aware of their Life Path Number so they could “get on track” so to speak. I used my natural writing ability to help them".
The funny thing is, most people don’t use my book for their careers at all. They use it to improve their romantic relationships. I didn’t plan on that; it’s just something that happened. Since I did my part, and at least informed them, I’m at peace with the fact that my book is used for something completely different than what it was intended for.
Can you give us a synopsis of your poetry book Nappy Roots?
I look at myself as a Poetry Gardener. My book, Nappy Roots, gives a written tour of my poetry garden. I come from a long line of Louisiana-fed Gardeners. My ancestors were slaves. Which by default, made a lot of them Master Gardeners. My grandfather farms a three-acre lot. My grandma had a berry garden, and so did her mom. We used to eat fresh raspberries and blackberries straight off the vine. My mom and aunt used to tend to the gardens of me and my sister’s nappy m roots for years, until we could handle it on our own.
Now, I have my own garden, but my garden’s a bit different. My garden produces poetry. I call it Nappy Roots. I call it that because in order to write the poems in my garden, I had to tend to my roots. The roots of my problems. The roots of my ancestors. The nappy roots of my locs. Every time I tend to the root of an issue in my life, I write a new poem, and my garden grows. This year’s harvest yielded me a beautiful crop of almost 200 delicious poems ripe and ready to share.
"Now, I have my own garden, but my garden’s a bit different. My garden produces poetry. I call it Nappy Roots. I call it that because in order to write the poems in my garden, I had to tend to my roots. The roots of my problems. The roots of my ancestors. The nappy roots of my locs".
It took me 30 years to grow my garden of poetry because I thought my work wasn’t good enough. I thought my poems weren’t polished enough. Deep enough. Interesting enough. I didn’t think they would sell. But then I remembered, I was built for this. My poetry, and all other poetry, is worthy of greatness. In the spirit of art, I dedicate my entire garden to poets. Especially the unheard Poets that never share their work out of fear of judgment. Because of them, it was important for me to publish my body of work completely on my own to show it can be done.
My garden is a 100% DIY raw organic garden. Meaning no pesticides, ghostwriting, editing, or designs were outsourced to grow and publish my poems. It only cost me time, confidence, audacity, and a little under $1,000 to produce my garden. My wish is that my collection of poetry inspires poets to share their work.
There are 182 poems in my garden that are separated into 9 sections using Numerology. There are nine numbers in Numerology, and each number has its own characteristics. I used that number system to strategically decide where each poem was to be planted.
Section 1: Self-Esteem Poems
Section 2: Relationship Poems
Section 3: Special Occasion Poems
Section 4: Career Poems
Section 5: My Other Poems Section
6: Community Poems
Section 7: Inspirational Poems
Section 8: Money Poems
Section 9: Legacy Poems
How do you think poetry has impacted other arts, such as music?
In my opinion, Poetry stems from love, and love translates into beauty, and beauty translates into art. Love is where all of our artistic endeavors blend. Even when the art was created in a state of anger, once the creative process starts, love takes over. Then, we have beauty, and then art.
Who is your favorite poet and how have they influenced your writing journey?
My favorite poets are Steven Willis and Mecca Morphosis, both slam poets. I love Sunni Patterson from New Orleans, and Ntozake Shange, the writer of For Colored Girls. Also, I love Oprah and Maya Angelou as poets. They are my favorite poets because they each have their own style. They influence me because they showed me that the way I write my poetry is ok, even if it’s different. I like to cuss. Sometimes my poems are short. My delivery is often loud and a bit cocky. I even use words in ways that are grammatically incorrect. It took me years, but through their art, I finally learned to embrace my style and own it. Art is subjective. It’s not my job to make others like my work. It’s my job to deliver my work to the best of my ability. Period.
Where are some places and locations you have been able to perform spoken word live?
When I first started writing poems, I knew it felt good to say them out loud. I didn’t know they were actually written to be spoken until I heard a poet named Sunni Patterson out of New Orleans at a festival. When I saw her, I knew that was what I was supposed to be doing. Then, at my first book signing, I decided to give it a try. I performed my poem “Unscripted” out loud for everyone in the room and it felt good. Real good. In fact, I knew at that moment, every poem I’d ever written was actually a Spoken Word Poem.
Then, like a lot of my favorite singers, I started performing in churches. But the churches sort of had me on a leash. I could only use “appropriate” words. I was forced to eventually venture out and perform at birthday parties and small events until I made it to bigger stages like the annual NAACP banquet. My goal is to perform at the White House, sacred venues like museums, and of course television.
Are there any challenges you've had to overcome as a poet?
Us poets are interesting. We are confident yet sensitive. My personal challenge is getting over my insecurities. Years ago, you probably could have said I was one of the most insecure people you have ever met. Insecurities are my source of inspiration. They are my blessing and my curse. When I feel insecure, I write a strong, confident poem from a prideful point of view that heals that insecurity. My poems stand up for me. They are my therapy. After reading my book, you will see that I have healed virtually every insecurity I have ever had.
Since I plan to see the year 2087, I know I have a lot more healing ahead of me. I’m still in awe of how no matter how confident I am, life always has more insecurities for me to heal with a poem. This is why I trust that I’ll never run out of poems to write. As I said, it’s a blessing and a curse.
What are some words of advice you can give to future poets who want to publish a book or spoken word?
I say do it. Don’t think too hard about it. Take the time. I do mean “take” the time to write your book or poem. The right time is never going to come. You literally have to take it. Every word I have ever written was meant to inspire writers to share their work. There is no point in allowing greatness to die in your notebook. I almost allowed my kindergarten teacher to ruin my dream. If I had not overcome my insecurities and shared my work anyway, then I would have regretted that decision for the rest of my life. You don’t want to look back and wonder what if. Besides, don’t you want to leave a blueprint for your descendants to follow? You have to leave a piece of yourself behind or they will never know you existed.
Outside of your business, what are some other hobbies that you enjoy?
Other than writing, I love to spend time in the gym. I wake up every morning at 5am. My husband and I head to the gym so I can run 2-3 miles on the treadmill. Also, I love to watch tv. Not just for entertainment, but I admire seeing the work of the writers come alive through the actors. One day I’m going to write a movie.
That’s pretty much it. I go to the gym, watch tv, read, spend time with my kids, and shop at stores like Ross. Nothing makes me happier than buying something dirt cheap and wearing it like it’s a designer bag.Follow at:
Facebook: Demeshia “Lady Dee” Brown