Tag Archives: blogging

My Promised Summer of Reading

I love to read. Period. I didn’t get to do a lot of that this past year. I was a rookie English Literature teacher, I was preparing graduate school packages and doing more drafts on my latest novel. This summer it was all about reading, drafting (writing) and getting out of the city (beaches).

My favorite 3 that I read this summer:
Alice Walker -Anyone who knows me knows that I love prose and I love folklore. The prose in this book is magical! I found her POV writing to be confusing at times but it served its purpose for the storytelling. But the prose writing made me fall back in LOVE (again) with the magic of words.

Jamaica Kincaid – I can always count on her to teach me more technique on first person fiction writing. She is a genius with sentence temperature! Your typical story has structure for plot movement. She can twist plot in every sentence to keep you hanging on! But the genius part is, she’s writing just as we think. Constant growth/contradiction. Magic of words!

Mary Monroe – This was my second Mary Monroe book that I’ve read. The first one I read years ago and I suppose with life piled on top I forgot about her. NO MORE! This was my favorite book of the summer! I haven’t fallen in love and cared about characters as much as I did in this book in a long time! Magic of words!

My mentor/guide advised that I “find” time to read more. (We’ll see, with my upcoming schedule of teaching and school.) I told her about the books I read and why I chose these three as my top. Her reply was something to the tune of, ‘Because those books asked you something of yourself. They found you. Just as your readers will find your books, so take your time with your writing.

**NOTE: These are not new releases. Alice and Jamaica are two of my favorites and Mary Monroe’s book was published in 1995 (I believe).  Other books I read this summer were:

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Liliane by Ntozake Shange

Diablerie by Walter Mosley

Advertisements

How many “I Love You’s” do you do?

There are several things I love about teaching but most notably I enjoy the time off during holidays and summer. (while still receiving a check 🙂 This is especially rewarding to me who spent years as an executive manager in retail and worked every holiday and most weekends.

Now I know you must be thinking, ‘my goodness Nikki, the school year just started didn’t it and you’re already thinking about time off?’ YES! You would be correct in with that assumption! And I think I have just the thing to help me get through the first half of the school year and my first semester in grad school.

A few months back, one of my friends exercised “staying in the moment” by writing daily things on what she most loved about herself. She did this for 60 days and surprisingly enough, she said the first twenty were very laborious. Laborious because she was having a difficult time discovering what she loved, or even liked on some days. The statements had to be instinctively linked about her and not some indirect love for something or someone else. She said this helped with her daily self care even if it was only 5-10 minutes a day. With my schedule becoming 12 hour days Tue-Thur due to school immediately after work, I thought this “I Love…” regiment would be ideal to ensure I think about me.

20180721_190329.jpg

For the next 90 days, I am going to write in this little journal different things I Love about me. This is extremely horrifying to me because it involves commitment and I can be so anal (for lack of a better word) when it comes to committing to something and what loyalty means to me. But I am at a stop in my life where I am both an educator and a student, literally, and I am content. How do I insist that I remain present under both titles? By involving myself daily, by communicating with myself daily. Hopefully this 90 day venture will prove to assist with that!

Join me if you may! Also, after this 90 days, it will be Thanksgiving and time for a week break from both work and school 😉 Clever, huh?

a new career, for the 3rd time; the first year

In between speaking engagements or during the interim of writing projects, I picked up side jobs to keep me financially ahead instead of becoming creatively stifled due to trying to maintain or “stay afloat”. After I wrote my play, “Hope’s Return”, I was introduced to the Atlanta theatre world and re-connected with previous theatre buddies. With this, I was invited on several occasions to apply to teaching positions in the theatre capacity.

After years of executive retail store management, I had NO interest in working with a theatre company and devoting my nights and weekends. And after experience with non-profit organizations, I had NO interest in working for a community/neighborhood theatre and contributing countless loads of money to guarantee a successful and professional looking production. Now, I have done both of these positions before and at that time in my life they were incredibly rewarding and I thoroughly enjoyed them. However, that time has come and gone. I have both of those t-shirts folded somewhere in my closet.

A few years ago, I began substitute teaching for public schools. I quickly learned, after several assignments, I was great with pre-k to 4th grade. I didn’t have the language or patience for any grade above 4th grade. I joyfully worked a full school year as a sub, even so that towards the end of the year, I was requested by teachers and principals more than I had to seek assignments. The following school year came and the only thing I wanted to change was to be stable as a long term substitute with two or three schools. I saw a posting for a long term substitute for a school that had three campuses. I thought that this would surely keep me busy and it is exactly what I had prayed for. I applied and got the position.

elementary pic

I started my six week assignment for a 4th grade English Language Arts (ELA) teacher going on maternity leave. I loved the environment of teachers I was around everyday! And as luck would have it, a fellow 4th grade ELA teacher had resigned and would be leaving around the same time my assignment would be over. Administration asked me if I was interested in becoming part of the team as a full-time ELA teacher, I accepted.

So there I was, I had entered a new career (outside of my artistry), for the 3rd time. A job that concluded between 3:30 and 4pm and was conveniently close to my home. And the best part, I was able to impose the magnitude of words in the young minds of brown kids 5 days of week. I was able to share my passion of sentence structure and reading on some impressionable minds.  What I had never taken into account were the behavioral curves and obstacles that reared its’ ugly head every day.

Continue reading a new career, for the 3rd time; the first year

SHE CHRONICLES: “Nana, Mother, Love” by Susan “Spit-Fire” Lively

When I think of you, my Nana, I think of…
nature’s smiling spring blooms,
good food cooking in a warm room,
life over-flowing from floor to rafters,
the things that I’ll recall forever after.
Because when I think of you, my Nana,
I think of family, joy, and laughter.
You see, I was the precious clay in your hands,
and you gave me the best gift when you said
that I had your heart.
When you died, I felt my world come apart.
A woman unlike any other,
for there could never be another,
like the lady who taught me
how to live, how to love – Nana, Mother, Love
New PIC

Susan “Spit-Fire” Lively is a poet, spoken word artist, producer, photographer, educator, and activist from Belleville, IL. Co-organizer of “100,000 Poets & Musicians for Change – St. Louis” since its inception in 2011; Susan also produces the series’ “First Bloom” and “Women For Peace”, and co-produces the “Dia de los Muertos Fiesta”.  In 2016 she became an Officer of Urb Arts’ Executive Board. In January of 2017 Susan produced the St. Louis leg of the international event “Poets & Musicians Against Trump” (with co-producer John Blair).

Lively’s been featured on “Literature For The Halibut”, “The Arts with Nancy Kranzberg”, the “Healthy Living Program” and PBS’ “Living St. Louis”. She has taught spoken word and creative writing at Confluence Academy, Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition, and for the Nine Network and St. Louis Fringe. Susan’s work has been published in “Static Movement”, “Postcard Shorts”, “Head To Hand”, “The East St. Louis Monitor”, “The PEN”, “Chance Operations”, “Drumvoices Revue 20th Anniversary Edition”, “SIUE News”, “Big Bridge“, “No Vacancyand the social justice anthology “Crossing the Divide“.

https://www.facebook.com/#!/SPITFIRE365
Instagram.com/Susan_SpitFire_Lively

She Chronicles presents, “Notions” by Sandra Rivers-Gill

When she was a girl in those days
Her Mama bought a piece of mosaic fabric
Weaved salvaged edges into historical truth
I heard her say

You could buy a piece of mosaic fabric
For ten cent a yard
She resounded with clarity
Through her veil of trimmed notions

For ten cent a yard
Inspiration was sewn into our lineage
Preserving amid the crow of notions
Her Mama made sack dresses from lack

Stitched threads that spurred our lineage
To crease hems in place of mediocrity
Sack clothing was made with praising hands
Because Southern crops impaled the boll of grasps

She turned to hymns instead of idle hands
And waved them like her Mama’s kinfolk
Who toiled fields that impaled their grasps
But their unbreakable spirit was their balm

Her Mama was as immovable as her kinfolk
She was vigilant and strong and learned
How to wear unbreakable spirit like a balm
That worked narratives into folded seams

She trained her daughters to be watchful; to study
How to buy yards of the mosaic fabric
And line their narratives into the upright seams
We weave our salvaged edges with tangible truth

________________________________________________________________________________________

S_Rivers-Gill_Headshot
A native of Toledo Ohio, Sandra Rivers-Gill is an award-winning poet,
writer, performer and playwright. Her literary work has appeared, or is forthcoming in Common Threads, Toledo Streets Newspaper, the Toledo
Museum of Art (Online), Flights Literary Magazine and The Kerf. Sandra
served as the 2016 Literary chairperson for the Prizm Creative Community
Art-Affair Exhibition, and has been a featured poet in Toledo and
Dayton, Ohio and continues to read and perform  her poetry. She
currently facilitates poetry workshops at Naomi Inc., a non-profit
treatment facility for women in recovery from alcohol and drug abuse and
is the editor of Dopeless Hope Fiends, a poetry chapbook featuring the
work of the women she serves. Sandra studied communication and received
a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Toledo.

“Why did we need a movement for you to #SayHerName”?

She in Texas / South Dakota
She in Alabama / South Carolina
Empty beds / abandoned hairbrushes
unused minutes
a forgotten body
Somebody #SayHerName

blog world entry

All is well.  In my life of literature and living that is.  I’ve had an incredible year thus far with working on a television show, writing and acting. Very exciting!


Now we are in the fall already… I have mixed emotions about that.  Summer is my favorite time of year. Or honestly, it may be that I enjoy the daylight savings time frame.  But with winter I have to be mindful of my moods. I lose energy, I lose ambition and drive. I’ve never identified it as depression but it could be.

So like always, I am working on my favorite project to date! (I say that for all of them 🙂  This one started as a new collection of short stories but it may be considered a novel. You know how things take a life of their own once you begin them? That is what this project did and I am so excited to share it with the world.

I look forward to reconnecting with my blog world friends. It’s been awhile! Stay tuned and I’ll be hanging around your pages as well.

love, nskies

Sister SOS (Inspired by Kathleen Cleaver)

She’s heard more eulogies than poetry so I wrote this for her.

Amidst the sips of licorice tea, I asked her
“what would she do differently.”

She replied she’d “love as fearlessly as she fought
take more time,
soak the greens instead of rinse ’em”
research his heart as she did antiquity.

She truly believed that for years she had a melody
but never a song
no vibration
no balance
“conquer your souls duality” she told me
the world is depending on you to love
surrender, Sister.

kathleencleaver

Nikki Skies, ©2007 Published in anthology of “His Rib: Stories Poems & Essays by HER” by Penmanship Publishing Group

20 Reasons We Love “REBEL”

Being a woman is not a story, we cannot be placed as non-fiction on your shelf
It is a movement
a dance
an expansion of bones.
being a Woman is a lesson in astronomy.
cooking chili is a recipe and then it is done
being a Woman is not a story.
We are not dialogue to be used in moving a plot forward
We are more than fixtures in the home after work and school
We hold more than bedtime consultation sessions
We are not chili to be written as a recipe and then close the book once the dish is done.

rebelwithgun (2)

And this is what “Rebel” is about

      1. She is beautiful hairstyles and more
      2. She has impeccable taste in good looking men and more
      3. She is fearlessly learning the tango in predominately male environments
      4. in a home life with a father and brother to the military to the police force
      5. She is showing the peculiar walk of being African American in America
      6. the tightrope performance of being a Woman with self determination
      7. She speaks the language where

    “Im ok”, means terrified
    “And I’m good”, means I’m paralyzed
    but She makes it look like manicured oak trees on an antebellum tour

    8. She’s a mixture of Big Mama with a Ph.D. in Street Knowledge
    9. demanding that profit in death precedes her brother, not with or after

  1.          /his slain will not be in vain / this can’t be another Emmett Till / another                        Medgar Evers / another Oscar Grant
  2. we now know when we refuse to be silent
    10. we shut down freeways! block bucks that drench downtown power
    we raise bail money for the forgotten
    we move our stories from the page to the stage
    from minors to the big leagues
    we make everyone Say Her Name
    We tittie to mouth our babies at the pews on Sunday and at tea time on Monday
  3. We hold writers accountable to tell our truths / color our beauty, litter her with life

    11.  And they show Her allowance in letting Her body being pleased
    12.  Her occasional leisure in blowing trees to the wind

    being a Woman is not a story that is non-fiction and simply closed.

  4. This show insists we talk about
    13. care for the elderly
    14. the vulnerability of our Veterans
    15. homophobia
    16. when children become the parents
    17. when being black is stronger than blue
    18. when being black is stronger than making green
    when right is stronger than wrong
    19. when persistence forces police lieutenants to make night calls
    knocking on doors like parental phone calls after 9pm / humbling
    20. We love Rebel because she fights like            the race of stretch marks across once raised wombs
    She fights like lightening stripes, thunder bolts and tiger claws
    She is full of mistakes but not abandoned from perfection.

    If you haven’t seen “Rebel” you DO WANT TO BINGE WATCH the series before the finale on Tuesday.  The finale is an edge of the seat 60 minute ride! Go to BET.com for episode information.