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Happy National Poetry Month: I’m joining the April Poem-A-Day Challenge

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Happy National Poetry Month!

While I was at the WordPress Press Publish Conference in Portland, Oregon, I had a great conversation about writing poetry with the “Naughty Poetess,” author of the Naughty Poetess blog. I shared how much I missed writing poetry. On the flight home to DC on Sunday morning, I decided to participate in the April Poem-A-Day Challenge. I participated in 2008 and 2009. Both experiences helped me blog and publish my second book, That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetical Memoir of Self-Discovery.

This year, I have chosen Fierce Living at 50 as my theme for the April Poem-A-Day Challenge. I will be using some of my poems in my new e-book series and artwork that will be available on my Etsy shop this summer, Here is the first poem, “Unmasked.”

Unmasked

Buried wounds began to rise to the surface.
I tried to run and hide, but there was no safe haven.
So I stood in the tsunami of my pain.
My legs tired.
I sat still and allowed it all to come undone.
45
46
47
48
49
Five years of looking inside, looking outside, looking above, and looking below.
Peeling back the layers of my mask … the person who I thought I was and making peace with who I have become.
Arriving at 50 unmasked with acceptance, compassion, forgiveness and love…knowing and giving thanks that the journey continues.

Copyright 2015 by Madelyn C. Leeke. All rights reserved.

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Happy Internet Geek Tuesday! 4/2

national_poetry_month

Happy Internet Geek Tuesday!

It’s National Poetry Month! One of the places I like to visit during the month is Poets.org. It offers a new poem each day. You can even have it emailed to you. Click here to sign up.

Are you a poetry lover? Who are your favorite poets? Where do you go online to read poetry?

Photo Credit: Tim'm T. West, www.reddirt.biz
Photo Credit: Tim’m T. West, http://www.reddirt.biz

I love reading the poetry of Tim’m T. West, an amazing activist,author, educator, feminist, hip hop artist, poet, scholar, and singer. I met Tim’m while he was hosting The Front Porch, a monthly poetry reading series at Mocha Hut, a cafe located on U Street in Washington, D.C (closed in 2009). He encouraged me to participate in The Front Porch monthly readings.

Photo Credit: Tim'm T. West, www.reddirt.biz
Photo Credit: Tim’m T. West, http://www.reddirt.biz

His creative energy, friendship, music, poetry, and poetical memoir, Red Dirt Revival: A Poetic Memoir In Six Breaths, inspired me to write and publish my own poetical memoir, That Which Awakens Me. Take a moment and click here to watch a video of Tim’m performing his creative work at the Front Porch in 2007. Also, click here to watch a 2009 video of my poem dedicated to him.  Enjoy!

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Watch Ananda’s April 8th author talk @9pm EST on UStream.tv – “Poetry as a natural medicine for the soul”

Hi all,

Join me for an author talk about poetry as a natural medicine for the soul on April 8 from 9:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. EST on Ananda Leeke Live! UStream.tv.  During the talk, I will share how I use poetry in my work as an artist-in-residence for Smith Farm Center for Healing and the Arts and excerpts from my new book That Which Awakens Me.  Click on the link to watch the author talk: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ananda-leeke-live. If you miss it, you can always watch the video.

Enjoy your day and week!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude for the power of poetry,

Ananda

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Listen to Ananda read poetry from her new book That Which Awakens Me as she launches her 30 Days of Poetry, Jazz, & Earth Day Awareness on BlogTalkRadio

Happy April! Happy National Poetry Month!  Happy Jazz Appreciation Month! Happy Early Earth Day (4/22)!

Today marks the beginning of “30 Days of Poetry, Jazz,  & Earth Day Awareness,” my online campaign that promotes National Poetry Month, National Jazz Appreciation Month, and the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day.  From April 1 to April 30, I am using social media and six-word memoirs to share jazz inspirations, poetry, and reflections about Earth Day and green living.

Here’s my first six-word memoir for April: Poetry. Jazz. Earth. My Soul Necessities.

Do you have a six-word memoir for April, poetry, jazz, or Earth Day awareness?  Share it in the comment section below.

This morning I recorded an author chat on BlogTalkRadio which celebrated jazz, poetry, springtime, Cherry blossoms in Washington, DC, green living, and Mother Earth (in celebration of the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day).  Several poems discussed neo-soul singer Erykah Badu, jazz singers Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, jazz musicians Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Thelonius Monk.  They were published in my new book That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery.  Click on the the BlogTalkRadio widget below to hear my 15 minutes of poetry.

Who are your favorite poets?

What are your favorite poems?

Who are your favorite jazz musicians and singers? Any favorite jazz songs or CDs?

Who are your favorite green living activists?

Enjoy your day!  Make it a poetic, jazzy, and green living kinda day!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude for poetry, jazz, and Mother Earth,

Ananda

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Celebrating Black History Month with Dehejia Maat’s new book of poetry Deep Rooted Soul Sista Poems

Greetings All,

My sistalove friend Dehejia Maat is a multitalented woman.  She shares her gifts as an actress, artist, poet, singer, yoga teacher, mother, and spirit woman. She recently published Deep Rooted Soul Sista Poems.  Her book is available on Amazon.com:  http://bit.ly/aNbzkt.

Guess what? Dehejia also released a fantastic CD entitled Melanin Wine (Earth Mix) which is available on Amazon.com: http://bit.ly/couuRI.

Dehejia currently serves as the theater director for the Dragon Box Theater in D.C. She established the No Goddess Left Behind writers workshop.  Her current projects include The Joy of Billie Holiday (an original one woman show) and The Yes That Leads to Infinity (her second book of poetry).  Click here to learn more about Dehejia and her creativity: www.dehejiamaat.com.

Follow her on Twitter: http://twitter.com/dehejiamaat.

You can also join her Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/dehejia.maat.

Check out her YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/dehejiamaat.

Here are some of my favorite YouTube videos featuring Dehejia.  Enjoy!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude for the creative spirit of Dehejia Maat,

Ananda

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Celebrating E. Ethelbert Miller, One of My Favorite African American Poets

E. Ethelbert Miller

Greetings All,

Today I am celebrating poet and literary activist E. Ethelbert Miller, the “godfather of poetry” in D.C.  I met Ethelbert in the early 90s at Howard University’s Afro-American Studies Resource Center.  Ethelbert has been the Director of the Center since its inception in 1974.  During our first meeting, Ethelbert became my literary mentor and brothalove friend.  Since then, Ethelbert has played a major role in my literary work.  That’s why I had to write a poem about him for my new book That Which Awakens Me (available on Amazon.com – http://tiny.cc/7uFsg).  See the poem below. By the way, I call Ethelbert “E-bert.”

To learn more about E-bert, visit his web site –  www.eethelbertmiller.com and blog – http://eethelbertmiller1.blogspot.com.

FYI – Yesterday, Ethelbert sent me a Twitter message about his February 11th interview on NPR’s Speaking of Faith.  The show’s theme is “Black and Universal.” It is rich and juicy!  I think the interview will give you an opportunity to really learn about Ethelbert is as a person and how he thinks.  Click here to listen to the interview:  http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/2010/black-and-universal.

Enjoy!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude for E-bert’s Passion for Poetry and Black folks,

Ananda

Excerpt from That Which Awakens Me

Copyright 2009 by Madelyn C. Leeke

Ethelbert

Inspired by E. Ethelbert Miller’s City as Memory: Lyrical City
Writing Workshop held at Busboys and Poets on May 3, 2009.

#1

Toni told me I had to go and meet Ethelbert if I wanted to
take my poetry to the next level.

Every couple of weeks, she reiterated her recommendation.

Before I made the call, I walked to Vertigo Books on Dupont
Circle and read some of Ethelbert’s poetry.

His words felt like jazz improvisation that could easily be
featured on one of WPFW’s radio shows.

It teased me to the point of curiosity.

So I took the plunge and called Ethelbert.

The first thing I noticed when he answered the phone was a
genuine kindness in his voice.

My ears heard the welcoming tone of a long lost friend.

Hints of New York City appeared in the middle of his soft
spoken sentences.

The rhythm of his conversation opened my heart and invited
me in.

#2

My first visit with Ethelbert happened on a sunny day.

I think it was springtime in 1994.

I had just published my second chap book of poetry and was
rather proud.

We met in his office located in Founders Library on the campus
of Howard University.

His desk was filled with paper and books.

I think we might have even had some tea.

Our conversation was just that … a conversation.

It included shared interests, questions, stories, laughter, pauses,
and comfortable silences.

It traveled down Georgia Avenue, waved at the Wonder Bread
Factory, found itself on 4th Street, got dizzy going around
Anna J. Cooper Circle, and came all the way back up to
Georgia Avenue before parking itself in front of the School of
Business.

Before I left, I mustered the courage to ask him to review my
work.

His smile offered a generous grin as he extended his hand to
receive a copy of my lavender chap book of poetry.

We hugged and agreed to meet again.

That afternoon as I walked across Howard’s campus to Soul
Vegetarian Café, I realized I had just received my first taste of
Ethelbert’s mind and humor.

And it was delicious.

#3

Ethelbert left me a message on my answering machine.

It was the kind you wanted to keep forever.

It started with one of his trademark phrases, at least the ones
he used with me.

“Hey Love. This is Ethelbert. I read your work and would like to
talk with you about it.”

I quickly called him back and scheduled an appointment.

This meeting was different from the last one.

I can’t remember what the weather was like, how his office
looked, or whether we had tea.

All I can remember is he talked and I barely listened.

When he opened my chapbook and attempted to review each
poem, I could only focus on the red pen marks that decorated
most of the pages.

Although Ethelbert was kind in his delivery, I was naïve and
unprepared to receive his comments and suggestions as the
D.C. godfather of poetry.

They stung me and left an open wound.

If I had been by myself I probably would have started singing
the blues like Billie Holiday about how my creative heart lost
its virginity before it is was ready.

#4

It took me a minute to digest and accept Ethelbert’s comments
and suggestions.

I purposely stayed away from his delicious mind and humor
for months.

They were a dangerous combination.

At one point, I felt comfortable calling him to say hello, but
when he asked me what I was working on, I gave him a vague
response because I didn’t want him to know about or review
my work ever again.

One day I found the courage to read Ethelbert’s feedback.

It forced me to unpeel layers of myself and dig a little deeper
to find my own voice.

#5

I was at work early one morning.

From my office window, I could see autumn leaves falling
from trees in Dupont Circle Park.

D.C. traffic was moving at its normal pace.

It kept me company as I logged onto my computer.

My AOL account announced loudly, ”You’ve got mail!”

It was a message from emiller698@aol.com.

By this time, Ethelbert had become E-bert in my world.

My eyebrows raised themselves up and past my forehead as I
read his request for a poem that would be included in a poetry
anthology he was editing for Black Classic Press.

As I sipped green tea from my Starbucks cup, I wondered,
“Why did he write me?”

Maybe he made a mistake.

Turns out it was no mistake.

E-bert wanted an original poem by moi.

My creative heart was no longer naïve.

So I sent one I had just written about my grandfather dying
with no expectation of publication.

When E-bert wrote back and said my poem was fine, I couldn’t
believe my eyes.

I called him to make sure he was really serious.

Something happened inside me when I heard him say, “Hey
love, your work is beautiful. Keep writing.”

It took me a few years to figure it out.

It was an act of someone noticing my maturation as a writer
who travels inside herself daily to fi nd her voice in each
subsequent moment.

It was a gift my creative heart needed to receive.

And one only E-bert could give.

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Just For Women Manifesto – Poetry Marries Collage

Hi All,

Yesterday I posted a collage with a poem made from magazine clippings.  Some folks have asked for a typed version of the poem. See below. Please share it with others.  Consider making one of your own.  If you do, feel free to post it in the comments section below. 

Thanks for stopping by.

Peace and Creativity,

Ananda

SB-Manifesto

 

Just for Women Manifesto by Ananda Leeke (based on collage)

Copyright 2009 by Madelyn C. Leeke

 

Practice loving yourself 

Drawn inward take a personal time out.

Age gracefully.

Experience your own divine nature.

Become yourself.

Reserve a day for yourself.

Giggle.

Living your best life.

Share. Serve. Make a difference.

Think the environment is important.

Our roots make us stronger.

Love.

Be more sensuous.

Discover the power to create.

Go ahead … PLAY.

Join the movement.