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My first time on stage, I performed during a black history program at my elementary school. My mother gave me a bouquet of pink carnations at the end of the show.
For years, I would make excuses of “when I” or “I need to do _____ before I go” and I never pushed forward with attending the National Black Theatre Festival, the largest theatre festival in the country for African Americans. I knew I could be in attendance as a playwright, poet or actor… I felt I could, but I never believed in myself enough.
When I feel I am in a creative rut, I go back to my roots of theatre. From the stiff chairs, to the fluorescent tape on the stage, to the curtains or the hanging lights… I come alive in a theatre setting! This is where my love for the arts started. I go check out a theatre production and my wheels are turning with ideas! (yes, even if it’s a bad play. I imagine how I would’ve written or casted differently)
I didn’t know what I was going to write. I just knew I needed to get lost in my art and escape reality for awhile. I sat down and outlined, “Hope’s Return“. Three months later, I had a full length play that I began submitting to contests and festivals. And what do you say? My lil ‘ole play got accepted into the theatre festival I have been wanting to attend since I was in college!
A play about a female soldier returning home to her southern roots after her first tour in Iraq. Her family wants her back in the church, she wants to pursue her dreams as a teacher but flashbacks from the war are calling her back across seas. Her family has always trusted “giving it to God” to fix things, but will it be enough to deal with her bouts of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
So in the midst of promoting my debut novel, I am relaxing on a four day excursion with my first love, theatre. And yes, I still like carnations 🙂
Was there any particular reason behind the creation of your chapbook? If so, what?
This chapbook has been writing itself for a number of years now. the motivation behind it was to peel back the covering and shine a light on the chasm an absent father can leave in his daughter’s life. I wanted to display the painful truth & bewilderment, and also acceptance & forgiveness that starts the healing process.
StacyMichelle’s poems have appeared in the Fall Line Review, the anthology: Brothers & Others, Stirring: A Literary Collection, and the anthology: Help Wanted Poets Please Apply. This is her secondchapbook collection. Her first, “dear Georgia. Mother is a Tornado” was published in 2014. StacyMichelle shares rough draft of poems and art work on her blog:
The Language We Speak
a one winged butterfly
can’t hug the beauty of the sky
or appreciate the explanation of cocooned space
tilted perception / informed maps leading to thick trunks of charter oak trees
then, approached water and surprised morality
with no handicaps
or beliefs in group thought.
I always had two wings
but learned to minimize the height of my flight
using only one / was taught that, learned that, saw that
always feared being a full beauty
outside of informed adjectives
Today we are in the UK at Carole’s Book Corner promoting The Town Dance! If you haven’t read the synopsis yet, go check it out. If it’s your cup of tea, buy a bag to take home to enjoy later. Well, you know what I mean… buy the book 🙂
This is day three for the release of my debut novel and the response has been amazing! People are full of conversation after reading the book because of the story. Let me explain…
When I began research on the top of same sex assault, all erotic/exotic stories and topics came up during my internet research. This presumably has to be the thoughts that come to mind when people read the synopsis. It is assumed to be about lesbian rape or an assault between two lesbian women. It is not. Nor is it an erotic exploit on two women sexually engaged. It’s not a fantasy It’s a story loosely based on a friend’s experience with same gender assault and breaking her silence some 15 years later. If it happened to a friend of mine… it has happened before and thereafter. I took a risk and chose to write about it.
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You have several books we can talk about, let’s start with the award winning “The Unheralded King of Preston Plains Middle”. What was the inspiration behind this book?
The inspiration was twofold. It began with a character I encountered ten+ years before the idea of writing a book was in my head in I Know This Much Is True (Wally Lamb) set close to where I grew up in Southeastern CT. Described as a person of color – Black, Native American, European, Ralph Drinkwater draws passing mention in the book as a sidekick to twin brothers, Dominick and Thomas Birdsey. I found his story most fascinating. How did he come to live in that part of the state? What was his family history? What if anything of consequence had he set out to accomplish in the world? KoPPM picks up where Lamb’s story leaves off, my protagonists, Trajan and Langston Hopkins, set at a point in time to potentially be Ralph Drinkwater’s nephews or grand nephews. From there, I wanted to explore what it might mean to come of age as a person of color at a time and place where cultural heritage takes center stage. With the resurgence of Native Tribes in the region reclaiming rights to their land, it suddenly became fashionable, profitable even to examine cultural history, to determine where your people come from. That I chose to write about brothers is an inevitable spill over from Lamb’s narrative surrounding the Birdsey twins. Only the brothers in this case more closely resemble Ralph Drinkwater, resemble a person who looks like I look.
Today I’m a featured author at Born To Read Books
Enjoy an excerpt of The Town Dance while you’re there! And by the way, launch day for The Town Dance ranked #180 for kindle buyers in the Literary Fiction/African American genre. Not too bad for a self published indie author 🙂
What is the motivation behind “A Journey of Life on Purpose”?
I wrote this book because I know that many women like myself- intellectually curious and multi-dimensional in their gifts, with a strong commitment to family and community – struggle with finding meaning beyond their roles. This book helps readers, especially women, to reassign and reclaim value in the intentionality of their actions and words in their relationships and communities through candid conversations in prose and poetry. It delves into the primacy of the creative space, insists on the transparency required for real-ationships with others, including ourselves, and communicates a quiet urgency for more empathy as well as a deliberate understanding of what lies beneath race and identity; that is, the very soul and spirit of a being.
Separately, I struggled with my own displacement and belonging as a Black woman citizen of two countries – United States of America, by naturalization, and Commonwealth of Dominica, by birth – while honoring all of who I am. Illuminating themes of self-actualization, or becoming, in the context of our relationships with the women in our lives – friends, mothers, and even children- through candid conversations presents a powerful platform for cutting through some of the morass of identification that comes from identifying solely along racial lines. This too, is an important narrative that I wanted to highlight in print.
I want you to think of your favorite chapter/section, how would that part of the book describe you as a writer?
My favorite part of this book is the section titled “My Sister, My Self”. This section lends power to yet another narrative about the women’s collective. The tapestry of our love and the fabric of us as womenfolk is already layered individually, but collectively, we are formidable. We are often the gatekeepers of our homes, whether we acknowledge it or not. We have the ability to sway opinions, change minds, and appeal to the empathy of others, even our adversaries. Culling that power among us is critical if we are to move forward even on a personal level, let alone on a much broader level, but first it requires transparency with ourselves and each other. It is in this process that we’ll find our own strength. In our sisters, we can find ourselves.
this was a beauty mark. in fact I have three.
now a mole / raised
every other one
every other time
– never staying
so I must confess to conducting concerts of judgment
reconciling with fear
of not having enough wattage
to light an ill thatched roof
with hoards of perplexed naysayers
and modest supporters
but this notion, these thoughts
have been here since my beauty marks
and now raised
I can only be an artist.