BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez, A Riveting Documentary about a Literary Lion

 

Image courtesy of Cinema Clock.

Image courtesy of Cinema Clock.

Sonia Sanchez is a lion in literature’s forest. When she writes she roars, and when she sleeps other creatures walk gingerly. ~ Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was spot on when she called Sonia Sanchez “a lion in literature’s forest.” From one literary giant to another, Sanchez is a force of nature. She’s a writer, poet, playwright, professor, and activist. A strong proponent of Black history, literature, and culture, women’s liberation, racial justice, and peace, Sanchez has inspired generations of writers, activists, and academics in the struggle.

If you’ve been following my blog, it’s no secret how much of an influence she’s had on me. So when I found out that the documentary BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez would be screened in DC on the opening night of the African Diaspora International Film Festival (“Where Black Life Matters On The Big Screen!”), I jumped at the opportunity to support it. And I’m so glad I did.

BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez, a riveting documentary by Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater, and Sabrina Schmidt Gordon, celebrates Sanchez and her contributions as one of the most influential writers of the Black Arts Movement. It chronicles her life – the personal, professional, and the political. Interwoven throughout the documentary are Sanchez in her element–performing her work with a live jazz band, along with readings and commentary by Amiri Baraka (Rest in Power), Nikki Giovanni, Haki Madhubuti,Ursula Rucker, jessica Care moore, Ruby Dee (Rest in Power), Talib Kweli, and Ayana Mathis, to name a few. Their interpretations of her writing and what she means to the world showcase the tremendous beauty, power, magic, depth, and influence of her work.

One (of several) elements I loved about BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez is that it shows Sanchez–the artist–at work. This level of intimacy is something we don’t often get to see of creatives. Truly a treasure to behold. Leaves one wondering if what she was writing in the documentary ends up in her next volume of poetry. One can hope.

During the Q+A that followed the showing, Sanchez dropped several gems about the struggle and the importance of work. She said, “Nothing changes unless you work… You have to do the work.” This statement is so relevant to issues of personal and societal concern today. Entitlement doesn’t bring change or reward. If you want something in this life, you have to work for it. If it’s something that truly matters, playing your part is essential. Her words serve as a testament to why she and other artists of the Black Arts Movement are so significant. They not only created work that touched the hearts of many, but they also did the work that was critical to changing the world.

And what’s a better way to top off your night by speaking and taking a picture with one of your biggest inspirations?

Me with writer, poet, playwright, professor, and activist, Sonia Sanchez

Me with writer, poet, playwright, professor, and activist, Sonia Sanchez

Thank you Sonia Sanchez for your spirit, strides, and all the blessings you’ve given to the world. You are phenomenal!

If BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez is showing in your town, please go and support it. Also check the listings for your local PBS station, as there may be a showing in the near future.

Personal and educational copies of BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez can be rented or purchased from the California Newsreel site.

The Power of Branding, Storytelling, and Connections: A Blogger Week 2016 Reflection

Image courtesy of Trinity University.

Image courtesy of Trinity University.

For the third year in a row, I had the pleasure of attending Blogger Week. For those who don’t know, Blogger Week is a celebration of multicultural digital media. Through panels, workshops, and other events, Blogger Week provides bloggers, media mavens, journalists, and other professionals with engaging opportunities to learn, share ideas, grow their brand, create partnerships, and build community.

This year’s conference offered priceless insights, strategies, and gems within the areas of social justice / activism, economic justice, marketing, PR, digital messaging, monetization, and issues of self-awareness, identity, and engagement. Common themes that tie many of these areas together include branding, storytelling, and connections (or community building).

Image courtesy of Black Bloggers Connect.

Image courtesy of Black Bloggers Connect.

Authenticity and Building Your Brand


So how do we break free from the noise and distinguish ourselves in the digital space? By being our authentic selves; knowing our audience (and how to effectively reach them); creating original, captivating content; staying consistent; and putting ourselves in positions that will benefit us. You’ve got to do your research. Whatever social media platforms you use, know what strategies work best for connecting with your audience. What works best on Facebook, may not work well on Twitter and Instagram.

Know your worth. Ask for it. And be able to back it up. ~ April Reign

To understand your impact and engagement, analytics are essential. It’s crucial that analytics are reviewed regularly. Once we understand our analytics, we’ll be better equipped to improve and build our brand, grow our audience, and attract other brands we may want to partner with in the future. As we journey on, it’s important that we don’t lose sight of our “WHY.” This will fuel us and keep us motivated during trying times.

Own Your Voice, Tell Your Story

As many of us know, content remains king in the digital space. Nothing emphasizes this point more than the influence of storytelling in digital media. Storytelling allows us to define and own our voices, embrace ourselves wholly and authentically, and connect with others on a deeper level. When done well, storytelling is engaging, inspiring, and influential. Often, storytelling is what drives us to finding or redefining our passion and purpose.

For multicultural bloggers, media mavens, journalists, and others in the digital space, storytelling is nothing new. I have to co-sign with Andrea C. Imafidon of Brown Girl From Boston when she says that, “We have always been a culture of people who have always told stories.” And we have done it quite well.

As noted during her presentation “Tweeting Away Our Blues: How Black Women Use Social Media for Self-Awareness, Activism, and Black Liberation,” Dr. Kelly Macias of Conflict Undone said, “Black women have revolutionized social media and the way it was intended to be used.” Not only have we used digital media to tell our stories, we’ve also used it to construct our identity, build community, and liberate ourselves.

Make a Connection, Build a Community

Speaking of community – community is one of the reasons why I love attending Blogger Week. The Blogger Week UnConference was the first (and remains one of the few) professional development conference I attended that celebrated multicultural digital media. Year after year, I’ve been able to meet, network, and learn from so many digital media professionals at various stages of their digital media journey. There’s a close-knit, family-like atmosphere that makes you feel right at home. You know you’re in good company. And you’ve got a solid support system holding you up.

I leave this conference every year amped and ready to re-up. I’m filled with an arsenal of information that I can use to help better myself and others. I leave knowing that I am not alone, and that we are SO MUCH stronger—together.

Me with author, publisher, and entrepreneur Ni'cola Mitchell

Me with author, publisher, and entrepreneur Ni’cola Mitchell

Major kudos and props to my connections (new and old) from the Blogger Week community: J.A.M. Aiwuyor (Founder & Creative Director of Black Bloggers Connect), Marc Polite, Ni’cola Mitchell, Andrea C. Imafidon, Dr. Kelly Macias, Tara J. Young, Julian Addo, Tyece A. Wilkins, Yvelette Stines, Dominique & David Pressley (Caribbean Soul Trekkers), Chimene WilliamsCharles Martin, and CleverlyChanging.

Much gratitude to J.A.M. Aiwuyor, Black Bloggers Connect, the speakers, the volunteers, and all of the fly attendees for making this another phenomenal Blogger Week. See you next year!

Peace, Love, and Many Blessings!

Inspired 2 Be

Courtesy of The Root & Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

Courtesy of The Root & Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

Those who’ve come b4 me have left me
Inspired 2 be
Just like, just as great, and better
I’m inspired 2 be
By those who’ve raised me
Those who fought 4 me
By those who stand by me
By those who set the example
I’m inspired 2 be
Because a way has been paved 4 me
A way that may not have been
If our ancestors did not fight
2 make a better day
A better nation
A better world
A better way of living
So that we could be free
I’m inspired 2 be the best
I’m inspired 2 be the greatest
I’m inspired 2 be
10 times better than
what the masses expect me 2 be
because I have the blood of gods,
kings, queens, soldiers, warriors, pharaohs,
leaders, activists, slaves,
fighters, mothers and fathers
flowing through me
I have a legacy to live up 2
and people, spirits and most of all, myself
that I cannot let down
There4, I’ve been
Inspired 2 be

© BuddahDesmond

Black Magic

Image courtesy of http://beautifulbrownies.tumblr.com/

Image courtesy of http://beautifulbrownies.tumblr.com/

Blackness in full view
Open and vast
Varied and rich
Not hidden in the cloak of
your lies and shame
Blackness doesn’t need your acceptance
or validation
It just is
As it is
And my, what our blackness is!
Full-bodied power
A vivid cultural mosaic
Intricately woven
Connecting our past, present, and future.

My experiences are too often judged, rarely understood
If I let you tell it –
my story simply wouldn’t be
My existence – my truth –
buried, annihilated
At the other extreme, you’ve tried to tell
my story as if you know me better
than I know myself
Praise to the gods that there never is and there never will be
a substitute for the real thing.

My story – our story –
more hype than virtual reality
Afro-futuristic dreams—
we live them every day
Casting spells before you
can comprehend
#blackgirlmagic
#blackboymagic
Rocking it like no other before, during
or after.

Forever an enigma
Keep ‘em guessing, as Mom always says
And just when they think they’ve figured
you out – flip that shit!

My blackness is unapologetic
Will not turn down
for your comfort
It’s everlasting
Just like the storied journey passed down
from my ancestors
Label it haughty or narcissistic
It’s simply self-love
Black love and BLACK PRIDE.

The strength and resilience
of my blackness is unbreakable
as the blood I share with my brothas and sistas
Forever catching our fires like Sonia
Yielding the fire within
Bringing beauty and beyond to the world
And making history every day
Now, that’s BLACK MAGIC!

© 2016 BuddahDesmond

A Writer’s Joy: A 2015 DC Metro Scholastic Writing Awards Reflection

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In March, I was honored to be invited back to recite poems by one of the American Voice nominees, Emily Zhang, at this year’s DC Metro Scholastic Writing Awards. Sponsored by Writopia Lab and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, the Scholastic Writing Awards recognize DC Metro Area middle and high school students whose writing has earned Gold Key, Silver Key, Honorable Mention Awards, American Voice nominations, the Busboys & Poets Senior Portfolio Scholarship and the Edward P. Jones Young Writer Award.

You could not help but be affected by the positivity and creative energy in the room. Being amongst so many talented young writers was a joy. I saw myself all over again. Seeing and hearing how much literature, language and writing has inspired these young men and women truly touched me. When you are blessed with the gift of writing, it unites you with such a vast community. A community where we feel deeply connected and happily at home.

Writing gives you the freedom to explore worlds. To change minds. To explore feelings–both familiar and unfamiliar. To get inside the lives of characters and their experiences. To dispel myths. To reflect on social, political, cultural and historical events and the impact they’ve had on generations past and present. Writing gives us the opportunity to make the unknown known. To tell our truth. To cast away our fears and simply live. Writing is everything and more.

The approach, style and genres in which we write may vary. But it’s our love of writing, our foresight, insight, perspective, curiosity…and desire for understanding, respect and freedom for all that brings us together.

Reborn: A Poem

Sadly, today’s the last day of National Poetry Month. I thought I would share a new piece I wrote a few days ago. I know I’ve been missing in action for much of the last few months. Between entering into a Nutrition and Integrative Health Master’s program and starting a new job, I’ve had more than enough to keep me preoccupied. I promise I’ll be back to posting regularly very soon.

Though National Poetry Month is ending, the celebration of poetry doesn’t have to end. Poetry is the language of the people. Even if you’re not an avid poetry reader, I’m sure you’ll find a poem or two that will resonate with you. Given the state of today’s world, poetry can offer us hope, solace and perspective. Poetry ignites the fire within. In the words of Sonia Sanchez, “Catch the fire…and live.”

Reborn

You fall back–
thinking you’ve got broken wings.
They’re only broken if you empower mistakes
and pain from the past to rob you of future’s joy.
You’ll never make it off the ground
running from your history.
Run into it for understanding.
Revisit for healing.
Conquer the aches, soothe the wounds
so you can be one with your spirit
and true destiny.
The internal battle will cease.
Like morning on a crisp spring day–
you’ll be reborn.

Lessons Learned from Publishing – New Article on 2025 Solutions Site

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I’d like to thank 2025 Solutions, LLC for publishing my article, “The Path to Publishing: 7 Lessons Learned.” In it I share some valuable tips that I think will be helpful to writers with dreams of publishing their works.

Publishing my first book was by no means an easy feat. But what fun would it be if it was easy? Challenges and all, I’m happy that my journey led me here. And I’m thankful for the support I’ve had along the way. There’s great hope for the future and all it has in store!

No matter what your dreams are, if it’s what you truly want–go after it. Don’t let anything hold you back. It’s your time. Make it happen!

The Escape (from ‘Exotic Shifter’)

When you started calling every 5 minutes and
demanding every beat of my time,
I should’ve known you were another brotha beyond
the OCD tip.
Possession’s only sweet to those committing the act.
It’s one of love’s nut job rellies that
shouldn’t share a bloodline.

When the life you live isn’t enough that you have
to encroach upon and suck the essence out of another’s—
it’s way past your meds and time for an intervention
They don’t make straightjackets tough enough for
the pained love you inflict on your prey.
A love that needs to be checked
by family, your crew, or law enforcement is a love
I wants no part of.

Thank goodness I woke up in time.
Cause there’s no guarantee that a kiss from
Prince Charming would’ve saved me
if the entrapment lasted one moment longer.
Thank goodness I got away.

Exotic Shifter can be purchased through the 2 Pens & Lint website on the BuddahDesmond author page.

“Exotic Shifter,” a Chapbook, is Out Now!

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I’m happy to announce that my latest project Exotic Shifter is available for purchase! Published through 2 Pens & Lint, this chapbook features 20 poems primarily about love and relationships.

As described in a previous post, “Love changes things… Well, love changes everything. It’s impossible that we go through life loving anything or anyone (ourselves, others, our communities) without being changed. The poems featured in Exotic Shifter examine the transformative power of love (and/or how we can be transformed once we learn to love ourselves and others better).”

Exotic Shifter serves as a prelude to my next full-length volume, which is tentatively titled From the Inside Out. This project will take an even deeper look at love and relationships. I’m pushing to release this project in late 2015/early 2016.

Exotic Shifter can be purchased through the 2 Pens & Lint website on the BuddahDesmond author page. The chapbook is $5.

If you like/love Exotic Shifter, please tell a friend or two (or three or four) about it. And if you have feedback, please feel free to share it with me!

Thank you for your support. Peace, Love, and Many Blessings!

Next Event: Baltimore African American Book Festival – October 11, 2014

c festival final

Okay artists, writers, poets/spoken words artists, and book lovers: If you didn’t know, the Baltimore African American Book Festival (BAABF) is this Saturday, October 11, 2014 from 10AM-5PM at the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

Presented by the National Literary Network Organization and the Enoch Pratt Free Library, the BAABF will feature Trice Hickman (Best-Selling Author), Sheri Booker (NAACP Image Award Winning Author), Troy Johnson (AALBC.com Founder), Nikki Woods (Tom Joyner Morning Show Producer, Nikki Woods Media Founder, and Author), and Ella Curry (EDC Creations Founder). Other events include panels/workshops, kids activities, and live spoken word. The event is free and open to public.

I’ll have a table (#10) selling copies of Prevail and Exotic Shifter and will perform during the Spoken Word Hour from 1PM-2PM. My blogger buddy Marc Polite (Author, Blogger, and Founder and Editor in Chief of Polite On Society) and will be one of several authors appearing at the event as well.

So if you’re looking for a FREE event full of great edutainment, come check out the BAABF this Saturday in Baltimore, MD!

Peace, Love, and Many Blessings!

~ BuddahDesmond