SHINE ON SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHORS SERIES – AUTHOR KASI SENGHOR

KasiI joined the Writers Union of Trinidad & Tobago in the early 1980s. There I met many poets some of whom were already published or on the way to seeing their work in print. My humble offerings of hand-written poetry were severely critiqued and wise suggestions were made for improvement. I had no favorite poet nor any best poem at that time but simply listened to the popular bards and read the works of local masters.

The Black Power revolution of a decade earlier had brought me into contact with men and women who wrote for the “masses” and I was influenced to do the same. While opportunities arose for me to read in public I always felt as though I had to do more to be accepted into the ranks of the popular. Even though I was following the themes of Black consciousness I was aware of other urges to write about my vision of myself and the values that I thought important.

So I penned for “public consumption” and also for myself and poets in the union who showed interest in other work. For many years I continued to write between “blackness” and “values” such as family life and spiritual beliefs. I was running out of topics and the feeling that I would repeat myself. However, I continued to write and read and discuss poetry.

In 2007 Anson Gonzalez who was a great inspiration over the years published my first book entitled Poems. . . I’m Afraid to Say” in which the mixture as previously described took shape. Having ventured into this realm, I thought that the time had come to embolden myself and write the variety that tumbled inside me. But I felt dumbstruck and guilty about writing anything that could be considered “not black”. This dichotomy lasted until I was introduced to AllPoetry in 2011.

There I found poems about everything under the sun and contests inviting me to write. I read the poets who hosted contests as well as the poems that were entered. I felt capable of expressing myself in this mix and began to challenge myself daily. At that time I began to write my poems on the screen because contests were filling up fast and I needed to know how my pieces stood up to the competition. Early successes and encouraging comments made me dive fully into writing poetry and before long I found myself writing up to five poems a day.

I wrote to their challenges mostly and discovered a world of what I call “form poetry” in which I was called upon to not just write but to do so in disciplines such as alliteration (which I had tried before), acrostic, nonet, haiku, tanka, brevity, sonnet to mention but a few. I was intrigued with the way some poets appeared to master their lines and create images with metaphor and rhyme. “I could do that” I figured and simply kept on writing, receiving comments, reading, discussing until I felt I could show off my new-found ability to fellow poets at home, in the union and elsewhere.

As my confidence grew I started to attempt styles that were uncommon and to use poetic devices with more certainty. I was not always clear and often lines were not what I really wanted to say, but I persevered anyway. Such persistency has paid off over my years of “study” and although I know that in becoming a poet one has to internalize many seemingly contradictory emotions without attaching oneself to them, it is doubtless very stressful to conjure ideas, images, and feelings that one may feel inimical to personal way of life.

Such is the task the of bringing to life what is hidden, forgotten, unimportant, ignored and neglected for the world to take notice, learn from or be joyfully reminded of.

Overcoming my fear of writing what I truly wish to express brought me to the point of wanting to publish a second book.

I read pieces in the union, offered manuscripts to fellow poets and critiqued myself. I am thankful for the many responses I received at manuscript stage and wondered how varied in views people can be about a single poem, far more a manuscript. I read their critiques and comments and tried to answer their questions in my own mind. This helped to bring clarity where images and thoughts blurred and to firm up what it is I truly wanted to set down.

Of course my reading of other poets broadened. Each visit to the library would see me taking away sometimes all the permitted six in poetry books. I consumed local, Caribbean and International poets. I judged and took notes; wrote over lines to capture moods; read aloud; and spent extra time on the ones that appealed to me.

Is Like ThisSelecting poems for my second book Is Like This was not easy as I thought that themes varied too much and that this would make for poor reading. Having submitted my work to my editor, Dr. Yvonne Bobb-Smith, I waited to see what she thought. Surprisingly I began to get edits that had little to do with style, expression, theme, but instead got comments that pointed positively to rhythm, language and communication.

Here was a different outlook on the work once again and even if a few pieces did not meet her criteria I was happy that the majority did and that poems I was timid about found favor in her reading of them.

Is Like This was self-published in November of 2013 by Xlibris and everyone has commented on the quality of the publication, found the content is worthy of the effort, congratulated on the varied themes and found it to be a wonderful collection.

I wish to thank all who supported throughout and those who made sure that there was a launch. I look forward to continued meaningful writing while assisting poets who desire to publish, running workshops when and where necessary and reading the works of fellow poets who like me want to “find their voice” and share that voice with the rest of the world.

Copies of Is Like This can be purchased from: amazon,comXlibris.com and from the author himself kasi_senghor@yahoo.com

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