Posted in Poetry, Sundays with Stacia (

Poetry Sundays with Stacia: A Conversation with Tara Betts.

Just a quick reminder that I’m blogging about poetry over at on Sundays. This week, we feature an interview with the lovely, gracious, wonderful poet Tara Betts whose book, Arc & Hue, was released September 1.

Here’s one of my favorite excerpts from our conversation:

There is no easy path to writing. It’s hard work and you have to read deeply and widely. Don’t just read things that you relate to or that mirror your experience. Read about what you find different, unusual, informative. When you do sit down to read anything look at the structure, the word choice, the turns, each sentence or each line. Take notes. Reading can teach you a lot about what you want to write or don’t want to write.

Read the rest of the article here.

Posted in Poetry, Sundays with Stacia (

Poetry Sundays with Stacia.

Great news! Starting today, I’ll be writing a Sunday column for journalist/novelist/co-memoirist-to-the-stars Aliya S. King’s website!

I’ve started to write poetry again this year, after a seven-year hiatus. So Aliya has invited me to write about my return to the genre in an ongoing series of Sunday posts.

Poetry Sundays with Stacia will discuss:

– the ups and downs of the poetry-writing process
– the works of poetry legends like Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Hayden, Sonia Sanchez, and Langston Hughes
– the works of contemporary poets like Suji Kwock Kim, Major Jackson, Tara Betts, and Randall Horton
– elements of poetic craft, such as musicality, internal rhyme, voice, and form/structure

It’ll also feature:

– Poetry Vlogs submitted by readers
– Interviews with burgeoning and renowned poets
– Poetic works-in-progress by myself and other guest contributors

Check out the inaugural article right here! Hope you like it! If you’d got suggestions or would like to be featured, please be sure to let me know!

Posted in Poetry, Uncategorized

a birthday poem.

My aunt’s birthday was last weekend and a lavish party was held in her honor at the Radisson in northeast Grand Rapids. This is the poem I penned and read for the occasion:

Aunt Melita, you’ve been
our moment in an African homeland,
otherwise only fabled.
You’ve enabled your nieces to feel
beautiful and pixied, your nephews
to believe themselves warriors kings:
our very own urban fairy godmother.

Your house on Hall our sanctuary,
on Elmdale, our moated castle,
we summon you when we feel hassled
like Black Cinderellas or aggrieved like
Afro’d Auroras in Sleeping Beauty,
come expecting you to wield your
glittering wand of wisdom and save us
from our latest little snare.

And you do,
and you do it with flare.

We’ve been known to stare
after your flowing garments,
wind whipping through them like sails,
as you flit from room to room
a whirlwind of amenity.

who taught both rebel yells and respect,
are a phoenix risen from the ashes of
your namesake in Natchez,
the bottomless ear into which
we whisper our secrets.
You’ve quelled fears and kissed knees
and cried the tears we’ve learned to bottle.

We love you because you do not coddle.
We love you because you leap and
you beam and you scream from all our sidelines.
We love you for all the guidelines you gave but never
forced us to follow.

You will genius and beauty into all our darkest hollows.

So this is not just a celebration of your birth
it is an intricate dance of mirth, a sacred act
of thanksgiving to a God gracious enough
to form your bit of bark on our family tree,
a homily in honor of a woman whose
loveliness we’ve all been blessed to see.

Posted in Poetry


(for coloreds only)

we are sequestered in the balcony, a nest
of blackbirds, pecking kettle corn. you call
me your candy apple as sweat rolls down
the long, cool necks of our colas. in the dark,

i can hear the wiry whisk of your beard, thin
fingers flitting absently against your chin, the
futile whir of fans. onscreen, a phonograph
churns Billie’s gravelly alto upward. as it wafts
toward the rafters, you turn and whisper:

junkies have the most beautiful voices.

i watch, as filmic light softens the lines
of your face, and fleetingly forget integration.

Posted in Poetry


i felt your face, disfigured,
kissed the pleats of keloid
puckering your jaws. you
were cold, flushed with
camphor and distance.

my mother warned of this,
not long after you enlisted:
war transmogrifies the men
and suffocates the wives
with silence.

i know now. i am not the
balm we thought i’d be.

you twitch in your sleep:
reflex, regret. your body a
hollowed rind. when sleep
rescinds, i press an ear
to your rib and listen
for farsi or fruit.