Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Interview with Cara Michele Nether- Acupuncturist

One dictionary meaning of acupuncture is:
The practice of inserting thin needles into the body at specific points to relieve pain, treats a disease, or anesthetize a body part during surgery. Acupuncture has its origin in traditional Chinese medicine and has been in use for more than 5,000 years.

1. What does acupuncture mean to you?
For me, acupuncture is a way to help myself and my clients to balance out the flow of energy between the mind, body and spirit. It's as much about my relationship and connection with my clients as it is about the about the needling and the points that I choose.

2. What interest you in becoming an acupuncturist? I understand that there are different styles of acupuncture practiced in the US, what style do you practice?
In beginning I really did not have the desire to become an acupuncturist. I went to Tai Sophia Institute for the Healing Arts because of their Taoist and Confucianism philosophy training. I knew that I really needed that training for myself. There are many different styles of acupuncture taught around the world I would say I was trained mostly in five element acupuncture with some focus on TCM. After graduating I expanded my knowledge of acupuncture incorporating some scalp acupuncture and auricular acupuncture.

3. Share with us what you feel are some of the benefits of you've found in acupuncture?
Personally, acupuncture has transformed my life. I would say I'm a much smoother and even-keeled person since I began acupuncture treatment probably 10 or 12 years ago. I used to have fairly severe back problems which I no longer have. Oriental medicine in general has taught me a lot about nutrition and and lifestyle choices that just make my life a lot easier and more joyful.

4. Please share with us a defining moment for you in your acupuncture studies?
As a student, I learned a lot about the power of relationships and healing. I had a teacher who took the time to know me and understand me as a person and use that information to help guide me to change some habits and thought patterns that were not serving me. I also had a teacher who did not get to know me as a person and have a one size fits all teaching style. These two examples were really poignant and helped me understanding the power as well as the necessity of taking the time to get to know my clients on a deep level.

5. Explain your philosophy of acupuncture and your approach.
My approach and philosophy towards acupuncture treatments and my clients is pretty simple. There are five main belief structures that my treatment sessions are based on. First, we must always maintain a balance between the yin and the yang. This means that just as the sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening we have to figure out how to intentionally maintain both sides of the coin in our everyday life. So when we play we have to have rest and when were out talking to lots of people we have to have quiet solitude time. Number two, mind body and spirit all connected. If there is an issue on one level, it will manifest on another level. A favorite example of this is an ulcer. We can have a burning sensation in our stomach maybe because we've been worrying and stressing over a situation that we can't control. Most Western medicine physicians will give you medication to ease the pain in your stomach which is often very helpful. The thing we have to remember is that the pain is a manifestation of a mental health situation. There is something going on a mental level that is manifesting in our stomach on a physical level. Understanding this concept allows us to look for the real reason that we are having physical pain. Number three, we are all born into this world with gifts and passions. It is my belief that it is our job as human beings to serve each other and to receive from each other. If we do this we will have a smooth and joyful life. If we don't, our spirit will lack ease and that will manifest as illness. Number four, humanity needs self-aware female leaders and healers to bring balance to our patriarchal society. Number five, by learning through experience the best foods and exercise for our own individual bodies, by experiencing the benefits of shifting the internal conversations concerning our true desires, self-worth and possibility for prosperity, women will be able to let go of the many day-to-day struggles that hold us separate from our true roles as leaders and healers. My acupuncture treatments and conversations with my clients are based on these belief systems.

6. I understand that you are also train others in acupuncture. What influenced you to want to teach others the art of acupuncture?
I am trained to teach lay people how to use an auricular acupuncture treatment protocol through the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association. This is a five-needle protocol designed for the ears that is used all over the world for substance abuse and stress management. As a student at Tai Sophia Institute for the Healing Arts, I had the honor of working with people challenged with substance abuse concerns. It was a life-changing opportunity that allowed me to learn firsthand the power of facilitating the balance of the yin and yang in the mind, body and spirit. A few years after graduating I created an organization called Ear Acupuncture Resources that offers information and training around the use of the five-needle protocol. Over the years it's been an amazing experience to watch clients become stronger mentally, spiritually and physically and also to see how grateful the counselors have been to have another tool to support the people they work with.

7. Who inspires you in your craft?
I would have to say my clients inspire me the most. I've had many clients make incredible shifts and changes in their lives. Many of them have let go of mental and physical habits that they have had most of their lives in order to move towards a more peaceful and enjoyable life where they are contributing as well as receiving. Growing outside of our comfort zone and changing is rarely an easy thing to do. Watching them make their transformations fuels me to learn more and grow within myself.

8. Why would you recommend someone get started with acupuncture?
Oriental medicine in general says that we have energy flowing in our bodies. If our energy is not flowing smoothly then we will have illness on a mind, body or spirit level. The job of acupuncture is to open up and move any blocks that are keeping us stuck. That's stuckness can show up on the mind, body or spirit level. The acupuncture needles ask the energy to come to a place where the energy is lacking or to disperse from a place where there is an excess of energy. Sometimes we know the changes that we want to make and yet we can't get going. Acupuncture is a great modality for helping to kickstart new thought patterns and behaviors because it can relieve any blocks that may be obstructing our movement.

9. What do you find most rewarding about being an acupuncturist?
As an acupuncturist I get a front row seat as I watch my clients transform as they walk through their lives. I see myself as a partner to the women I work with. As they walked their own path I'm four steps behind them. Every once in a while they turn around and we have a conversation about going left or right. When we combine the fact that I have taken the time to get to know them with my knowledge and continued learning about the human body, women's health issues women's social issues and energetic medicine, I can make offerings and suggestions that are pertinent to their individual goals and desires. Ultimately they make the choice themselves and we continue the journey. We all need a pit crew waiting in the wings and it is my honor offer that so many women.

10. What advice would you give to someone aspiring to be an acupuncturist?
My first bit of advice would be to take the time to learn about the different styles of acupuncture and how they're going to teach you to relate to your clients. Point choices can be learned from a textbook. True healing is based on relationships. My second bit of advice would be to understand what benefits you want your practice to offer to you. So many people in the healing professions focus solely on what they want to give and never give a thought to what they need to receive and I believe this is an out of balance mindset. Because I have talked to so many people with passions and gifts, but who never create the practice that they desire or that can sustain their livelihood, I have designed a practice development course designed to help open up the conversation around the exchange of giving and receiving from a business perspective.

11. Do you feel acupuncture has motivated you in other areas of interest in your life?
I think in order to be really good at anything you choose to do, it needs to filter through and penetrate all the layers and levels of your life. So much of my acupuncture training and practice influences all aspects of my life. My clients are going to think twice about participating with a practitioner who doesn't eat right, doesn't exercise, doesn't get enough rest or doesn't have a balanced life. As Gandhi has pointed out, we must be the change that we want to see in the world.

12. While in graduate studies you worked as a crisis counselor. How did working with crisis clients influence you as you moved forward in your career?
The greatest lesson I learned as a crisis counselor was the fact that there are so many people out there in the world who don't believe they have support. This is not to say that they really didn't have support and resources available to them. The point is that they didn't believe that they had any support. This experience helped me to become clear that one of the most important things I can do as a healing practitioner is to offer a space for my clients to feel welcomed and listened to.

13. Do you feel that acupuncture can help people in crisis? If so, how?
The modality of acupuncture itself is extremely useful for helping to settle the mind and heart when we're in distress. And as I've mentioned the power of knowing that you have a true partner who is dedicated to listening and supporting you is unmatched when you really need it.

As a woman of many interest….

14. You started a business call "Women in Wellness" with the tagline of Bold, Brave and Brilliant. What prompted you to start this business?
When I graduated from acupuncture school I was challenged by my business coach to get clear about the gifts and services that I truly had to offer my clients. So I went back through some journals and writings and remembered my passion for helping women see their power and potential. Even though I didn't have a model to guide me it became clear that I needed to create an organization that would help women to be bold enough to say that they truly have dreams of their own, be brave enough to walk towards those dreams and to be brilliant enough to not let everyday obstacles stand in the way.

15. I understand that the Women in Wellness Center offers various services. What other services do you lend your expertise to?
Wellness in Wellness has three practitioners. I provide acupuncture services. We have a personal coach who supports clients to pay attention to their inner conversations, knowing that what we think is exactly how our life will turn out to be. We also have an herbal medicine and nutrition practitioner who works with people who are interested in using herbs and food to help heal themselves. All the practitioners provide workshops around their expertise. We also invite outside practitioners to come in and offer services and programs for our clients and the community.
I also offer classes that may seem a little bit odd for women's empowerment and that is the practice of aikido. Aikido is a martial art that focuses on bringing healing to any given situation versus violence. The study of aikido is a physical practice that teaches us how to be peaceful in our everyday mental and spiritual lives. Aikido offers a great workout where we are challenged to learn about our strengths, fears and the possibilities what of our bodies can do. Because we are using our partner's energy to shift the attack instead of physical force aikido it is a wonderful martial art for women.

16. How do you feel the things that you have studied and now offer all come together to help others as well as help you grow?
Whether we believe so or not, all the people, places and things of our lives are connected to each other. All of my past experiences, the different jobs and careers that I've had over the years, all the people that I've met, all the mentors that I've worked with, all the workshops that I have attended for personal growth business growth, all the clients I've worked with, all of aikido training that I have attended, comes together to make me the person that I am today. I use my past experiences to help inform me when I'm making choices for myself today as well as the offerings that I provide to my clients.

Interesting tidbits about Cara Michelle…

16. What is normal day like for you?
I think that rhythm is extremely important in helping us to maintain balance lives. So I begin and end most of my days the same way. I think that the latter end of the rising portion of the morning is one of my favorite parts of the day. So I get up most mornings around 5 AM. I take that time to walk my dog, wake my body up with a little stretching and exercise, and to set my intention for the day. I will also take a look at my schedule and decide how I would like to show up and move through the day. Making sure I get a good breakfast and plenty of clean water seems to also help me interact with the circumstances that show up in my day with ease.

I end my day with a similar type of attention. Because I know that my body functions best on eight hours of sleep I tend to go to bed around nine o'clock in the evening. During the summer I seem to function quite well on less sleep so I may go to bed a little bit later in the evening. At night I intentionally quiet my mind body and spirit by reviewing my day either by writing or sharing with my partner, looking at what lies ahead for me the next morning and stretching to relax my muscles before I lay down. Gratitude is a very important practice to me. Both in the morning and in the evenings I will reflect on the opportunities for growth and learning.

My work days are filled with opportunities to practice connecting and sharing with others. Whether I'm seeing clients in my office, working with professionals learning to use a auricular acupuncture, speaking at a women's conference, writing an article for a women's magazine or sitting in a planning meeting with the Women in Wellness team, I'm always refining my ability to communicate clearly effectively and appropriately. I'm clear that my ability to connect has a direct effect on my ability to impact multitudes of people.

17. If you had to suggest one book that you have read in your life that was a vital tool, what would it be?
If I had to pick one book that shifted my life the most it would be James Hilliard's The Soul's Code. That book offered me an image of human beings growing down from heaven that will always influence my heart. The author suggests that we come to this world with an intact destiny and that the role of parents and mentors is to guide us through the open doorway that allows us to remember and embrace our true path. Not many of us grew up with parents, mentors and guides that recognize this as their role. As a leader and a healer, I take on this responsibility with great vigor.

18. What book is currently on your night stand?
I set a goal for myself to read 12 books in 2010. I am a slow reader and I pretty much only read at night, so this is a big challenge for me. I have a few books on the spirituality of aikido by authors like William Gleason. I also have books on acupuncture, one in particular by Dr. Gary Dolowich. Some practical books on wellness by authors like Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr.Christiane Northrup. Two books that I can't seem to put down are Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port and the E Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. I'm never too far away from Success Magazine and the Success Book Summaries.

19. What is currently heavy in rotation in your ipod/mp3 player/cd player?
Because I think it's essential to continue learning throughout her lives and I'm a slow reader who doesn't take a lot of time to sit still and read, I listen to a lot of information on my iPod or on CD's. Each edition of Success Magazine comes with a CD interviewing some of the people who are featured in the magazine. The Success book reviews also come with CDs and I listen to them daily. Currently on my iPod I have podcasts from Dr. Andrew Weil, Christiane Northrup and tips from The Public Speaker. Some of the authors that I have on my iPod include Pima Chodron and Alice Walker, Larry Winget, Marianne Williamson, T. Harv Eker, Steven Covey, Charles Seife, Eckart Tolle, and Sun Tzu. I also have a series of biographies including Emelia Ehrhardt, Bette Davis, Jackie Onassis, Cleopatra, Pocahontas, and Joan of Arc.

20. If your life had a theme song what would it be?
The phrase theme song has me stumped. Even though I might not resonate with every word here are a few songs that I really get my spirit moving. Goapele: Closer, Idina Menzel: Defying Gravity, Madonna: Jump and Deva PremalN: Embrace.

21. Studies have shown that color evokes emotion as well as tells you a lot about a person. If you were a crayon in the box of 120 crayola crayons, what color would you be?
I would probably pick a primary color: red, green or blue. It's important to me to be who I am and yet be flexible to mold into what's needed.

Are there any encouraging words of wisdom or favorite quote you would like to leave with our readers?
The rest of us are counting on your courage to be yourself. - Cara Michele Nether

Interview with Felicia Pride- Author of The Message: 100 Life Lessons from Hip Hop's Greatest Songs

1. How long have you been writing? When and why did it all begin?
I've been writing since 2000, so for ten years. It began really because I was bored at my day job. I was working in marketing at Panasonic, fresh out of college. And I was bored. I thought it would be my dream job, but it was far from it. So I started writing as a way to fight boredom and get things off my chest. But in high school and college I had teachers who urged me to study writing, but I didn't think it could be a viable career.

2. What inspired your first project?
My first major project, THE MESSAGE, was inspired by my relationship with hip-hop music. I wanted to show the power in the music and how we could learn from it. As a writer, I also wanted to show the literary brilliance of hip-hop's greatest MCs.

3. What genre of books do you write? Are there any other genre's you may consider?
I write fiction and nonfiction. I'm pretty open within those two areas. I am actually pursuing other types of writing such as screenwriting.

4. Do you have a particular writing style?
A lot of my writing is personal in that I insert myself into the conversation of my piece.

5. Who or what has influenced your writing?
MCs, James Baldwin, my mother, Maryse Condé, musicians; the list is pretty long.

6. What has been the most rewarding part of being an author?
I'd say being able to lift my voice and insert myself into a national and even global conversation.

7. What is the most important lesson you've learned in your writing career?
Pursuing one's passion can make the difference between happiness and misery

8. Sharing life lessons with others is a great way to inspire and motivate others, why did you choose 100 of Hip Hop's Greatest Songs as your tool?
Music is a universal language. We use music to help us in so many ways—articulate our feelings, describe our worlds and times, motivate us, entertain us—so I thought that it would be a great connector to look at life lessons. And it's proven to be a great connector. Through my company, BackList, we've developed an enrichment program that uses hip-hop as a tool of engagement to promote literacy. We've had the pleasure to facilitate this program around the country and in many locations around Baltimore.

9. As not only an author but also a speaker and facilitator, what is the most rewarding thing you get from your speaking engagements?
Connecting with young audiences. It's always a pleasure to meet brilliant, energetic young people. They remind me of my younger self. They give me hope. They push me to be better.

10. What characteristics do you feel are most important for speakers and facilitators to develop?
It's important to be comfortable in front of all types of audiences. It's important to be engaging and to be able to interact with your audience, to have them participate and feel like they are part of your program.

11. In 2004, you developed an organization called Backlist. Tell us a little about it.
BackList began as a literary advocacy organization, now we're a media, entertainment, and education firm that produces and engages in a range of initiatives to enrichment programming development to independent films. We've worked with book publishers, nonprofits, creatives, big corporations. We consult; we write; we create; we speak. We're online at

12. What words of wisdom would you give to an aspiring author? Speaker/facilitator?
You have to write. Every day. I still struggle with this, but now I'm at my best when I follow this rule of thumb. As a speaker, you have to practice. Get in front of audiences, even if you're not being paid early on. Perfect your speaking style and content.

13. If you could have one author as a mentor, who would it be? Why?
Greg Tate

14. What is normal day like for you? What do you do daily to stay motivated and keep your creativity flowing in your craft?
A normal, productive day begins with me writing for two hours. Then I send the rest of day working on various projects, business development, and marketing.

15. What book is currently on your night stand?
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez

16. If you had to suggest one book that you have read in your life that was a vital tool, what would it be?
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

17. What words of wisdom would you give to an aspiring author? Speaker/facilitator?
Don't underestimate the power of faith + action

Interesting/fun things about Felicia…

18. What is currently heavy in rotation in your ipod/mp3 player/cd player?
The Roots' new album How I Got Over.

19. If your life had a theme song what would it be?
Oh, that's too hard to answer. My theme song is constantly changing.

20. Studies have shown that color evokes emotion as well as tells you a lot about a person. If you were a crayon in the box of 120 crayola crayons, what color would you be?
Brown. Always.

Interview with Poet Tara Betts

1. What was the first poem that inspired you?

I've been a lifelong reader so I'd have to say the earliest poets I remember reading and seeing—Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and Ntozake Shange.

In my hometown, we had annual black history programs where girls would often memorize Angelou and Hughes so they would have to be my first poets with poems like "Phenomenal Woman" and "Mother to Son".

2. Who is your favorite poet/s? Why?

My favorite poets would be Lucille Clifton, Patricia Smith, Marilyn Nelson, and Wanda Coleman. Lucille Clifton was one of my early teachers, and she was encouraging in so many ways. She was also a master of being concise and making her point with an amazing last line. Patricia Smith has a gift for capturing voices, whether they're in her books or she's reading them out loud. Marilyn Nelson is a master of poetic form and the breadth of her historical knowledge. Wanda Coleman because she's a versatile and prolific yet singular voice. Nobody sounds like Wanda Coleman, or any of these other poets.

3. If you could have a conversation with a poet, who would it be? What 2 questions would you like to ask them?

June Jordan. If she were still alive, I'd like to ask her about how young writers motivated her large body of work. I'd also ask where she would think young poets need to be doing and writing in these urgent times.

4. What does poetry mean to you?

Poetry has been the medium that always clearly unlocked the images that I would see in my head. Often that's where a poem begins for me. An image conjures up the idea or the point I want to make, and the poem is a concise, original way to help see and feel the image, and what it conveys, clearly.

5. What type of poetry do you write?

I write all types of poetry—free verse, historically-based, narrative, formal, lyric, persona poems. I think it depends on what works for the poem.

6. What is your creative process like, atmosphere, etc?

It varies. When I lived in Chicago, I often wrote on "the el" (the elevated train) because I had long commutes to teach. Now, I find myself writing in my living room. Sometimes, I put on some music or turn on videos. Other times, I just want to write outside or in a coffee shop. Sometimes, I write with my students in class.

7. What is your definition of creativity?

Creativity is a way of inventing a perspective informed by various sources of inspiration and the need to be unique and crafted.

8. On a typical day, how do you record your thoughts?

I usually just tote around a composition book and try to write every day. I prefer black ink. If I write longer work, like essays or blog entries, I always type that. It just feels right to write the poems with a pen and paper.

9. What inspired you to publish your poetry?

Ever since I was a little girl, I've wanted to write books, and I've always loved books. So, in a way, it has always been my dream job, even though it is hard work. Putting your work in a book also documents your words and helps them travel where you may not be able to go.

10. You're not only a poet but a spoken word/performance artist, what influenced you to perform?

Performance, and bringing the energy of performance to a poetry reading, engages people who may not be fans of poetry and reading. Remember I grew up hearing girls recite poems, so it meant that I couldn't just write it if I wanted people to really hear my work. At first, it was scary to me, but then I realized that sharing the work would help reach people who needed to hear it.

11. In addition to being a poet/author, you are also an educator, what valuable advice do you share with your students from your experiences?

Read and keep reading your whole life, not just poetry either. Read history, fiction, the classics, health, science. I also think it's important to travel and take care of your health. There are a lot of authors and artists who do not take the best care of themselves, and it just slows you down. I also think challenging yourself to write about what you're afraid to write, write about topics that you've never written about before, or write it in a different form.

12. You've performed in Eve Ensler's play "Vagina Monologues", what impact do you think the play has had on society as it discusses such an important topic?

I think the play has raised awareness about violence committed against women and helped powerful women meet each other and find ways to work together and address that violence. On a more personal level, I think "Vagina Monologues" has made it more acceptable for women to affirm and accept their own bodies. There's so much in the media and so many people that point out everything flawed with women, and women's bodies are not made to fit the standards of one way to look.

13. You have also appeared on "Def Poetry Jam". How do you feel "Def Poetry Jam" has been significant?

I think "Def Poetry Jam" was a good experience for me to have because I got to meet more people, but it's one experience. I often meet people who think that television and fame is the main goal for our lives. Television is really just another way to share your work. You still have to keep creating new work and improving on yourself

14. Your list of accomplishments and influences are both impressive and inspiring. I wanted to take a minute to focus on one in particular, Girl Speak, tell us a little about these workshops.

GirlSpeak is a program that I co-founded at Young Chicago Authors with several other women who saw a need to mentor women into leadership positions and being more outspoken. The girls often made up the majority of the classes, but were not always outspoken or critical of instances where girls were being overlooked or discriminated against. So, we did writing workshops and other activities to encourage the girls to speak up on a variety of issues that they deemed worth exploring, including body image, street harassment, and the visibility of young women in the arts. Now, years later, the GirlSpeak is still in operation and they have an online journal.

15. If you had to suggest one book that you have read in your life that was a vital tool, what would it be?

Deep Sightings & Rescue Missions by Toni Cade Bambara

16. Tell us what we can expect from Tara Betts in the future.

Right now, I'm finishing my second collection. I'd like to do some nonfiction writing and a children's book or two. I'm working on co-editing an anthology of Bop poems with poet Afaa Michael Weaver. I'm hoping to be open to doing writing on a variety of topics in all kinds of venues, whether it's on CDs, in museums, overseas, or anywhere.

Interesting tidbits about Tara Betts….

17. If your life had a theme song what would it be?

It depends on when you catch me! I could say "Be" by Common, but it might really be "Love and Happiness" by Al Green or "Diva" by divinity roxx.

18. What is currently in heavy rotation in your ipod/mp3 player/cd player?

Erykah Badu's "New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh", Anthony Hamilton's "Comin' From Where I'm From" and the Blackroc collaboration produced with The Brothers. I'm about to get Janelle Monae's "Arch-Android". Stevie Wonder, Prince, India.Arie are also spinning around in there.

19. What book is currently on your night stand?

I keep a couple of piles of books next to my bed! Right now, I just finished reading Christian Campbell's Running the Dusk. Some other poets I've been looking at include The Heart's Traffic by Ching-In Chen, Ceremony for the Choking Ghost by Karen Finneyfrock. I've also been reading some nonfiction, including Silent Spring by Rachel Carson.

20. If you could visit any place in the world tomorrow without concern with expenses etc where would you go? Why?

I'd visit Pablo Neruda's house in Isla Negra in Chile. Neruda is one of my favorite poets, and I plan to see it at least once in my life.

21. Studies have shown that color evokes emotion as well as tells you a lot about a person. If you were a crayon in the box of 120 crayola crayons, what color would you be?

I thought about blue because it seems to be a centering, calming color for me, but I also considered purple and yellow orange since they seemed like rich, sensuous colors. The first one that popped into my head was sepia because it has that earthy, vintage shade of brown.

Are there any encouraging words of wisdom or favorite quote you would like to leave with our readers?

These days, I often find myself quoting Lucille Clifton more than ever, probably because I am missing her. I think of this ending of one of her poems: "come celebrate / with me that everyday / something has tried to kill me / and has failed." But I also keep thinking of this short poem:

"Why People Be Mad at Me Sometimes"

they keep asking me to remember

but they want me to remember

their memories

and i keep remembering mine.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Interview with Poet Petula Caesar

1. What was the first poem that inspired you?

My dad used to recite poetry to me when I was a baby and a young girl, so the first poem I ever remember hearing inspired me. It is called "The Face On The Barroom Floor" by Hugh Antoine D'Arcy. It's a story poem about a dirty, ragged drunk in a bar who is a famous talented artist who has been driven to drink by the woman he loves who has left him. He tells his story to the bar patrons there laughing at him and draws her face there on the floor. Then he drops dead on top of the picture. Now that I think about it I wonder why my dad was reciting this kind of poem to me…LOL! The other poem I was inspired by Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken". I also love ee cummings "i carry my heart with you".

2. Who is your favorite poet/s? Why?

I'm pretty "old school" in my poetic tastes. I love Emily Dickinson, ee cummings, Poe, Rumi. There are more modern poets that I love as well, but I have always gravitated towards the classics. I love the way they use language; it is really artful and seems so effortless.

3. If you could have a conversation with a poet, who would it be? What 2 questions would you like to ask them?

I'm not sure what I would ask but I would love to have a conversation with Ntozake Shange, the woman who wrote "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf". Mainly because that work in particular is one that I think really embodies so much of what I ultimately want my work to be…I love the way she combines the beautiful and artful and creative and vulgar and raw and real all at the same time.

4. What does poetry mean to you?

It means writing that can exist just for its own sake. It doesn't have to have a purpose, or a meaning that you get, or make sense, or even have order. It exists primarily just to exist, and anything else it accomplishes is just extra beauty.

5. What type of poetry do you write?

I think because I write short stories, my poems tend to be story poems. I have a very peculiar rhyme scheme and meter that exists in my head that I write to and because I love music I think my poems tend to have a certain musical rhythm to them. I write very lyrical poetry, I put a lot of work into making sure I write with a certain amount of grace, no matter what the topic.

6. What do you think are the basic ingredients of a poem?

The basic ingredients for me are truthful emotion and great phrasing. One of the things I love about poetry is what makes it beautiful is its honesty. And it doesn't matter what you're being honest about. In poetry, you can be honest about some really ugly things, and if your truth shines through, the poem is beautiful.

7. What is your creative process like, atmosphere, etc?

I'm still trying to figure that out. It's very random. Often the first line of my poems, or the ideas for them come from some unrelated comment I'll hear someone make that just connects to something inside me. Then it just latches on to something in my brain, and it starts to grow from there, and I'll start writing. As far as atmosphere goes, I like to write late at night. As long as it's dark outside I'm good.

8. What is your definition of creativity?

Creativity is when you find interesting, unique, special ways to do something. Creativity is something that you can apply, and should apply to everything you do. The most mundane tasks can be fun if you find creative ways to do them.

9. On a typical day, how do you record your thoughts?

I'm not really that deep…LOL! I don't really record my thoughts formally on a regular basis. I have always been told I should, and I am trying to get in the habit of blogging and journaling regularly, but honestly, my thoughts often aren't really worth recording. They are really weird and are only significant to my close circle of friends. But when I do record my thoughts, it is usually by doing very random essay writing.

10. What inspired you to publish your poetry?

Money! I had no real interest in publishing my poetry, plus you get told very early when you become a professional writer that there is no market for poetry, especially on the page. But I was actually approached by a literary journal about publishing two of my works about ten years ago, and I did. They paid me $50 per poem, which is a LOT for a poem! So for a while I was pretty good at getting my work in online and print journals. My next published work will probably be some kind of poetry collection.

11. You're not only a poet but a spoken word/performance artist, what influenced you to perform?

Well, mainly because I got tired of not seeing me onstage. I got tired of not hearing my voice from the poets. It still irks me at how often people with "ordinary" voices don't get onstage, and its primarily because they feel they have to be like the other poets they see onstage, and when they aren't, they don't even try. I got up there because I wasn't like any of the others. One thing I hate most about spoken word is that while more often than not there are more women in the audience than men, there are mostly men onstage. And when I see women onstage, they generally tend to follow one of a few "formulas" that female performances poets tend to follow – "super green hippies", "mother Earth types", the "militant revolutionaries", the "angry man bashers", "the super philosophers", the "hyper-feminists", the "weird eclectics", etc. And the women who didn't fall into these categories always seemed to have such overly apologetic voices. They don't write strong. Whenever they wrote about things they consider bad, they always seem to be explaining and justifying. They seem to be so concerned with what people will think of them, so their writing and poetry never lets go, never flies. They never want to just be bad and wrong and dirty. I got tired of not hearing the voice of the woman who thinks bad things, says wrong things, who gets angry and is hateful and hurtful at times, who cusses and fucks and drinks and talks shit who still manages to have the sensitivity to feel and love and hurt and heal. Women feel so much pressure to be perfect, and it's killing us in so many ways. I want women to be powerfully flawed and unashamed of it, because that is the only way growth happens. That is what I hope to bring to performing – a powerfully flawed woman who is still blessed in her mess and will let you witness her evolution so you can appreciate your own.

12. In addition to performing you added recording your poetry to music to your resume. How did this come about?

By accident. I had just started working on my second collection of erotic poetry and short stories, and I was thinking of recording a few of the pieces to go with the book as a promotional CD. I wasn't planning to sell it. So I went to Mo-Rece of Stinkiface Music, who is one of the best producers around, especially when it comes to spoken word. I told him I wanted to do this promo CD thing of a couple of poems and a story or two, and he said "well, why don't you just record a CD and sell it?" At the time I thought it was just crazy. But we got to looking at my poems and we talked about it and in February 2008 I started working on my very first recordings, which eventually became my first CD, "The Eargasm".

13. The genre of poetry that you write is sometimes looked at in a negative light, some may even relate it to pornography or smut. How do you address these types of views?

Believe it or not, I am more sensitive than most to the fact that many people have issues with what I do. For example, when someone wants to book me for a performance, I make sure they are extremely clear about what I do, and that for the most part I don't censor my performances. I have been invited to perform at events and I get there and there are minors there, and I don't perform in front of minors, ever. But as far as addressing those views goes, I mean, honestly, I can't. I really don't try to convince people that what I do isn't as bad as they think. Because for some people it is. I don't have a problem with that, as long as in return they respect the fact that others feel differently. I have found respect for other people's feelings about my erotica has done more to address their issues with it than anything – the fact that I'm not trying to push it down their throat or make them accept it.

14. With a resume that includes being an accomplished journalist how do you maintain the balance of your two very different writing careers?

Well, in many respects there aren't any differences. Whether its journalism or poetry, it's all about telling a story, sharing with your reader a set of feelings, emotions, and circumstances. The difference is that in journalism you convey those things by presenting and framing facts, information, details. You attempt to make things clear. In poetry, you often do those same things by NOT presenting details. You often don't make things clear, you make them fuzzy. But writing is writing for me. I can pretty much write anything.

15. What words of wisdom would you give an aspiring poet/writer?


Well, first of all I would say that if you are planning a career as a writer, you are going to have to spend some time writing FOR FREE. That's just the nature of this business. There are a million writers out there, and at least some of them are better writers than you, more experienced than you, better trained and better prepared than you. So you have to be prepared to be so committed to writing that you'll do it for nothing for a time. For the poets, I would say that you should not get so caught up in your personal agenda that you aren't effective artistically. Way too many poets see themselves as these super-deep, highly reflective individuals with all these important things to say that people just MUST listen to, and something in wrong with people if they don't want to listen. Keep it simple. Share yourself, your thoughts, your words, your way of writing and being, and then stretch all those things as much as you can. If you do that, you'll be okay.

16. If you had to suggest one book that you have read in your life that was a vital tool, what would it be?

I don't know if there is any one book I would suggest. I have gotten different things out of different books at different times. Mostly I would suggest people try to read a book that is something that they wouldn't normally read, that broadens their horizons. For example, I'm not a huge science fiction fan, but I've made it a point to start reading some Octavia Butler books. And I have to say I love them, even though normally you couldn't pay me to go near sci-fi. But I am all about a person stretching themselves, so I'd say read that book that you've always said you'd never read.

Interesting tidbits about Petula….

17. If your life had a theme song what would it be?

Wow! Only one song? That theme song would change from day to day but overall I'd go with "I Did It My Way".

18. What is currently in heavy rotation in your ipod/mp3 player/cd player?

I'm getting into Erykah Badu's CD real heavy right now. Other than that I'm in the process of recording my next project and I'm collaborating with some other artists as well, so those tracks are what I'm listening to a lot now also. The two tracks in heaviest rotation are "Wordz", which is going to be the first track on my next recorded project, and "The Last Time", which is a duet with Janice B., another artist on the music label I am on. I do some serious poetry on that track, can't wait for people to hear it!

19. What is one of life simple pleasures that you find to very sensual/erotic?

Cooking and eating. I love sharing meals with people I care about – friends, lovers, my significant other, or whoever. The whole process brings a really great energy that I love. I love to go out to a restaurant, sit across from someone and just eat and talk and smile. I love to watch people chew, to watch their jaws move up and down as they eat. EI love the whole process of sharing sustenance.

20. What is one item that you never leave the house without that makes you feel sexy/sensual?

I make sure I smell good and carry my perfume or body oils or whatever with me. And I always make sure its not overpowering, but when he's close to me he can smell it.

21. Share with our readers an item that you suggest every woman have in there adult toy chest.

You know, the funny thing is that I'm really not that into toys! I mean I have a few, but I hardly ever use them. I like to save my sexual energy for my significant other for the most part, and the toys I have I more often use with him than alone. I do think a vibrating bullet is indispensible. In my opinion, bigger isn't better in my opinion when it comes to those things. I once brought a little tiny vibrating bullet that you're actually supposed to use on your tongue for oral stimulation, and that little thing worked on me better than the bigger ones. I think because it really could…focus…on the spot I wanted it to!

Are there any encouraging words of wisdom or favorite quote you would like to leave with our readers?

"Don't f*** it up." --RuPaul

Interview with Chris Hicks- Author of Think Volume 1: The Young Adults Guide to a Successful Relationship

1. How long have you been writing? When and why did it all begin?


I have been writing for two years now. I first started to write back in 2008, during that time I knew that I wanted to write but I couldn't decide on a topic. I didn't want to write about the streets and selling drugs or anything negative like that, but I really  wanted to write something that we all could relate to because not everyone gets exposed to the street life so I decided to write about relationships that's a touchy subject that almost all of us can relate to.  


2. What inspired your first project?


I wanted to write a book showing guys that its ok to treat women good, I wanted to paint a picture for the younger guys mostly letting them know that the "player" mentality is unacceptable, guys don't realize that women respond to the way we treat them, that's why I set a high standard for men so that they understand this message.


3.  Your first series of books are relationship based. Are there any other genre's you may consider?


I thought about doing a book about a message from a father to a daughter, and a teenager book talking about peer pressure and gang violence topics like that, so that's what's in store in the late future


4. What has been the most rewarding part of becoming an author?


The most rewarding part of becoming an author is knowing that my book actually helped someone, if you read the book I stress a lot about how this book is suppose to "wake you up" not just in relationships but life, so when someone comes to me and says "your book was great and it really opened my eyes" then that's rewarding to me because that's all I wanted to do from the beginning was help.


5. What is the most important lesson you've learned in your writing experience?


Take your time, read every contract, fine print, just take your time and do your research.


6. You're not only an author but you have established your own publishing company. What influence your decision to not only publish but create your own publishing entity?


I started my own publishing company because I wanted to have most of the control with this project, I had a vision that I wanted to get across and I knew I was the only one who could see the vision and bring it to the readers.


7. As a publishing company, what type of authors are you interested in working with?


The type of authors that I want to work with ideally would have to be like me, meaning someone who is very serious and passionate about their work, motivated ,hungry, someone who isn't scared to sacrifice, not willing to quite when things are not going their way, spiritual, honest and last someone I can trust.


8. If you could have one author as a mentor, who would it be? Why?


Hill Harper, because he gives back to the younger community and he talks about the positive issues as far as what it takes to make it in society today.


9. What words of wisdom would you give to an aspiring author?


Write what you feel, whatever comes to your mind write it down, don't be so easily discouraged, people are always going to tell you what u cant do or even try to bring your spirits down but don't let it get to you and understand that not everyone is going to like your work but that doesn't mean it isn't good enough.


10. What is normal day like for you? What do you do daily to stay motivated and keep your creativity flowing in your craft?


A normal day for me is my daughter and work. I'm constantly thinking and thinking, what can I do that another author isn't doing, I'm always trying to be fresh, relevant and different, but my daughter and her future is what keeps me motivated and ambitious.


11. What book is currently on your night stand?


Rich dad Poor dad by Robert Kiyosaki, I like to read books about business, real estate, investing things like that


12. If you had to suggest one book that you have read in your life that was a vital tool, what would it be?


I'm going to name two, Letter to a Young Brother by Hill Harper and Rich Pad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki


13. Your bio tells us that you are involved in volunteering. Tell our readers what volunteering means to you and why they should involve themselves in their communities?


It's so important to give back because a lot of kids and adults need help, they need motivation, hope and they need a reason to continue to live. That's what volunteering represents, lifting up peoples spirits and to let them know that they are not alone or forgotten. You should get involved with your community because that's what keeps our children safe and in school, if kids see hope they won't drop out of school or turn to crime because of the good they see. Kids try to become us, so if they see positive people helping that's what they will strive to become, that's why we need more role models in the community so kids have someone positive to look up to instead of the local drug dealer.  


Interesting/fun things about Chris…


14. What is currently heavy in rotation in your ipod/mp3 player/CD player?


The two cd's that I'm listening to now are Usher's new album Raymond vs Raymond and Trey Songs (ready) I'm in a romance mood right now.


15. If your life had a theme song what would it be?


If my life had a theme song right now, it would Drake "Over"


16. If you could visit any place in the world tomorrow without concern with expenses etc where would you go? Why?


If I could visit any place in the world it would be Egypt because its in Africa, this is where civilization began and I think Egypt has the best sites to see.


17. Studies have shown that color evokes emotion as well as tells you a lot about a person. If you were a crayon in the box of 120 crayola crayons, what color would you be?


Red meaning my passion and love...


**Since the topic of your book is relationships, I couldn't end this interview with asking a couple of questions about dating.


What are you thoughts on meeting people on the internet vs the traditional methods?


I don't see anything wrong with meeting people online, you just have to be extra careful because a lot of times you might not be talking to who you think you are talking to, there are scams and stalker online so you should be careful but I'm not against dating online


What would be your ideal first date?


My ideal first date would be something simple, we would have to go some place where we could have a meaningful conversation not so serious but have fun at the same time, so dinner first and depending on how much time is left in the night we could do another activity, it all depends on what kind of person she is and what she's wearing, if she is dressed up with a pretty dress and heels bowling or skating is out, but if she is dressed relaxed, a pair of jeans and sneakers then those two ideas are possibilities unless she's not into the both of them, but like I said it all depends, and that's what I call a simple date, just enough so we can get a feel for each other.


Are there any encouraging words of wisdom you would like to leave with our readers?


I want all my readers to know that if you have any goals or dreams keep working and pushing for them because you can reach each and every one of them. I'm here to tell you, I believe God puts certain people in our life for a reason and if you are reading this, then

you really are blessed because I know me being put in this position to tell you this isn't a mistake or accident. So to all my readers I'm proof that hard work really pays off.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Poem by TaMara Campbell in honor of National Poetry Month

Heaven Never Kissed!

Heaven never kissed a soul the way you kissed mines
with tenderness as your lips gently pressed against my neck
lingering in the moment, I am lost in your eyes
captivated as I savor your sweet surprise
burning with an uncontrollable desire
moaning to feel you deep inside
I sigh….
breathing deep rhythmic breathes; my swelling lips beg to be hushed
let me soak in your delight as you caress my entire body exploring territory unknown
transcending reality into desire
I dare dream for this very moment
that we can escape on a voyage of ecstasy
allowing sexual passion to unleash
I seduce you….
conducting an intricate orchestration of eroticism
for you are my slave in this journey to the pinnacles of sexuality
and so shall it never end
such is the moment and the longing
I dream of this and wish for nothing more
than to be making love to you
and yes, my love I have been to heaven …

© 2006 by TaMara Campbell-Dillard for Love…The eXperience. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Interview with Poet TaMara Campbell

1. What was the first poem that inspired you?

The first poem that inspired me was Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelo

2. Who is your favorite poet/s? Why?

I really like Love…The Poet. Her delivery is amazing. I also love Jessica Holter. She has a powerful message that she shares through her poetry! Her content is very similar to mines. Her delivery and passion is nothing short of dynamic!

3. If you could have a conversation with a poet, who would it be? What 2 questions would you like to ask them?

Jessica Holter. I was very curious to find out the inspiration behind the Punany Poets. I also wanted to understand her passion for sexuality! Her matter of fact style is so in your face and that inspired me even more. She had passion that was very similar to mind. Her message regarding sexuality and HIV was empowering and I felt that we had a very similar message and mission in life. I actually had the opportunity to perform with the Punany Poets in NYC this April, and for me that was indescribable! Just to share the stage with someone that you honor and respect is very humbling!

4. What does poetry mean to you?

It's the art of eroticism appealing to uninhibited emotions and fantasy you so desire. It's the taste of the forbidden fruit quenching the thirst and hunger you never knew existed. It's channeling energy throughout your entire body, leaving you breathless and yearning for more. It's taboo. It's passion. It's expression. It's love. It's sexuality. It's sensuality. It's liberation. It's beauty. It's the art.

5. What type of poetry do you write?

I write sensual erotic and love poetry and short stories

6. What do you think are the basic ingredients of a poem?

Passion, love, intensity, energy truth, honesty, and connectivity carefully blended into a rhythm of perfection that evokes emotion from the depths of your soul.

7. What is your creative process like, atmosphere, etc?

There no real process for me, it just happens! I can be anywhere and the spirit will hit me and I write….

8. What is your definition of creativity?

Life in all its color and beauty is creativity! It's a beautiful process in which individuality is the foundation, free spirit is the heart and energy is the pulse! You are given a blank canvas to create and define who you want to be.

9. What inspired you to publish your poetry?

A friend of mine encouraged me to self-publish my collection of poetry.

10. On a typical day, how do you record your thoughts?

I record my thoughts on whatever I can grab from a piece of paper to a napkin or a journal…lol

11. What value do you feel poetry adds to the world?

LOVE, color, beauty, inspiration, understanding, hope, an outlet, and conversation that addresses stigma and debunk myths and breakdowns barriers and demystifies taboos.

12. What words of wisdom would you give an aspiring poet?

Embrace your craft, share it with the world. It's a gift that you have been given to change lives, hearts and minds. Celebrate it! Use your power for good!

13. If your life had a theme song what would it be?

There's so many songs that I love and could describe me on any given day. I can't pinpoint one, but it would definitely be something sexy!

14. What is currently in heavy rotation in your ipod/mp3 player/cd player?

I love all types of music and every song I play is always my favorite but I definitely play Maxwell, Raheem Devaughn, Esther, Maroon 5, Res, Erykah Badu, and the list goes on……lol

15. If you had to suggest one book that you have read in your life that was a vital tool, what would it be?

Return to Love by Marianne Williamson

16. Are there any encouraging words of wisdom or favorite quote you would like to leave with our readers?

The fundamental change in life begins within the mind of he who thinketh….

To read more about TaMara Campbell follow the link to our website @ The Pearls Book Club