#3amblackpoetry in July
Post 26: Zest and Zeal
Post 26, 2020: Sedentary Sedition
A challenge is a challenge, but a promise is a promise. And a passion is a passion. Today’s #3amblackpoetry in July prompt, Zest and Zeal, is my reminder to you to embrace joy. If curating memes and sharing gifs are the things you love, openly enjoy the sedentary sedition. If dancing or hiking or yoga does it for you, make time for it. And if you’re writing, find your own way to the kingdom of zest and zeal. Maybe you get a thrill writing and completing drafts quickly, maybe you love writing outlines or character profiles, or maybe you love collaborating with photographers, artists or others during the process; make time for the step you love. A poem I want to share as part of today’s #3amblackpoetry in July post offers a brief meditation on the topic of what it might look like in the long run to include zest and zeal in your life – and to steal moments of sedentary sedition, from time to time, as well. Happy Writing!
Yin and yang, sugar and spice, cowery shell earrings and gold septum rings. Friday lewks for fun, friends and funky vibes including my DOPE AF “writer” necklace courtesy of @melanin_sol_creations. Come at me bro.
If there is one thing about writers, we yearn to be read. But I don’t want to talk about that. Instead, I want to reframe the notion of yearning, from one that is static and pregnant with woe, to one that, in fact, exists as a spectrum where feeling melancholy is only one small portion. The reason I suggest this change is because it brings together those who may be experiencing yearning in the form of healthy desire or obsessive longing for a parasitic paramour, with writers and those who may be yearning and tirelessly working toward a position, salary, home, business, etc. You know who else fits in when we think of yearning as a spectrum? Those who may be in crisis because they don’t feel a sense of yearning, or because they don’t know where to start. Below are a few examples of areas on the yearning spectrum that might come up for writers, as well as strategies for getting through.
A theme, character, or idea suddenly takes hold in our brain, but competing life demands or other outstanding writing projects may make us wonder – where am I even going to start? (Write the idea down, or record it, reread and relisten to it, and add to it over time until it makes sense and motivates you to start.)
What can I do to get someone’s attention? (Write, proofread, network)
What if nothing is inspiring me? (Make a list of 3 things to learn or teach yourself, go through the motions anyway, write about and chronicle the absence of yearning).
What do I do if I acquire, complete, or land the thing for which I was yearning? (keep going and try to widen your audience, refer to or write up a new list of things you’re ready to write about or want to learn about )
What if I don’t reach my goal, or I get rejected? (Try again, refer to your list of topics or things you want to learn about, or make a new list)
Today’s #3amblackpoetry in July post also includes a link to a YouTube video from April (National Poetry Month), from an interview I was invited to do on the online video show, Shine On! I think the full spectrum of my yearning was on display during the interview. Happy #3amblackpoetry in July.
#3amblackpoetry in July Post 24: Winsome Whirlwinds Post 24, 2020: Lilting Liberation
by Reza Rites
A few years ago, in 2017, a ten year old child saved my life. It wasn’t that she performed CPR or called 911; it’s that I was struggling after leaving a job that had put me through hell – and a constant barrage of meanness, disdain, and sabotage. I was in a temporary summer position, and it was in a much more emotionally safe and joyful institution. In front of the mask, I could teach and interact with my particular group of “older” students and co-counselors, I could follow the arrival, dismissal and lunch scheduling, I could do everything…but that hour we had everyday of unstructured time with all the kids in the program. Recess, as they called it (though it was summer time) was slowly killing me inside.
I know now that I was still reeling from what was then my most recently exited job. I was inundated with scenarios and questions about what could have happened differently, and where I might have failed, and how I was going to survive such a cruel world. This went on for a few days until a sweet cherub with a winsome lisp asked, “Do you want to see how I go behind the trees over there?” I was not sure if she was talking to me, but I am sensitive when it comes to kids who may need adult attention, so I hopped to it and answered, “Sure!” with ease.
But the thing is, she had made it easy. And she had made me feel easy to love, trust, and lead. Before her camp session was up, she gifted me beads, marbles, rocks and other hand-selected collectibles, helped me understand the Ground is Lava game, and gave me refuge from the monsters in my head. So why am I thinking about her and how does this relate to writing? Well recently I had a similar experience of feeling affirmed and excited, and once again it was a young girl who inspired it. But this time I’m talking about fourteen year old Zaila Avant-garde, who won the Scripps National Spelling Bee on July 8, 2021. When I saw one of the online videos from that event, and saw the evolution of her reaction reach the jump and spin, while she proudly grinned, then reached for confetti falling by her side in celebration of her, I not only felt excited for Zaila, I also felt a reconnection with my own love of words, which is why my poetry prompts appear the way they do. Photography, memories, smells, questions, themes: all of these things can be used to inspire writing. At its most basic level, though, writing happens when one word is placed in front of another, in front of another, in front of another….The notion that I can help, simply by loving words, not only myself but others, on this journey – simply by loving words – feels like a privilege. It also feels like a great way to honor my pint-sized hero.
Do you want to see how you can use these words to enrich your writing? Happy #3amblackpoetry in July.
So. Did I expect to do another dance session between last Monday and today? Yes. Am I mad at myself? Maybe. Am I going to dance it out tonight either way, yes. Tidbits in the stories momentarily. Sunshine and laughter. – Reza Rites
#3amblackpoetry in July
Post 22: Veritable Vicissitude
Post 22, 2020: Transmutative Tidal Waves
We can set alarm clocks and strictly follow expiration dates, but anyone who has ever hit PM instead of AM, or who has unfortunately experienced the woes of food-borne illnesses, knows that some things are out of our hands. That is because no one is perfect, and because so much about life is out of our control even when we walk a tight, straight line. Writing, on the other hand, is quite different from that, especially if you’re dabbling in poetry. The end of the poem is an area I often labor around, and that is because, in particular, I like including some kind of vicissitude in the reading experience. That is to say, I love throwing in a plot twist, denouement, or curveball at the end of a poem – and any piece of writing, really. When done correctly, readers and consumers end up feeling like they were hit with transmutative tidal waves, a veritable homerun, but in the literary world. Accompanying today’s post is a link to a poem from 3 AM IS THE NEW BLACK regular contributor, Dakota Castro, and one from me, Reza Rites – both in audio formats, and both of which deliver some type of poetic vicissitude. I hope you enjoy, though I caution you: the turn at the end of the Superheroes and Villains piece becomes a bit vulgar/explicit. Happy #3amblackpoetry in July.
Welcome to Venus Sings by Reza Rites at www.VenusSings.com
About Venus Sings / Reza Rites / Reza Wreckage
About Reza Rites (Venus Sings/Reza Wreckage/the #AmbitiousBlackFeminist)
Reza Clifton has many nicknames because she is a writer, digital storyteller, and cultural navigator based out of Providence, RI. This means she works and makes her income in several different ways, including but not excluding sending and publishing written work, multimedia stories and interviews with artists and community leaders; DJ'ing at professional, cultural and family events in different cities; giving speeches, workshops and lectures on college campuses and in community sites; and curating and producing community arts events.
This site, VenusSings.com, is about her interests in music, art and culture; her adventures as a DJ; and her collaborations with artists and community members. You can also follow her on Tumblr, www.AmbitiousBlackFeminist.com.