Today’s guest blogger is Tamara Woods, poet, proud hillbilly in Hawaii and so much more. She generously hosted me on her blog, PenPaperPad, some time ago and I’m excited to share her with you today. Please remember to show her some follow love and be sure to check out her newly released, first book of poetry, The Shaping of an Angry Black Woman. Aloha, T! – byh
Thank you so much Belinda for allowing me to chat with your readers. I’m so excited to share my work with a new audience.
Hello my name is Tamara, and I’m your resident poet for the moment. Please bring your own beverage, have a seat and let me talk to you a little about what being a poet means to me and a little bit about my new collection of poetry, “The Shaping of an ‘Angry’ Black Woman.”
In my head being vulnerable ranks right up there with death, speaking in front of groups of people and finding one of those huge tropic cockroaches in my bed. To share your inner thoughts with the world for possible judging judgertons to well…judge…horrifying.
Sure, I have a vlog and now two blogs, but I’m an incredibly private person. I don’t talk a lot about my past- my personal history, except through poetry. Actually, I don’t really talk a lot about my life period. I’m slow to open up. I keep people at a distance until I feel comfortable to let them in…a little.
I find with my poems, I can’t help it. That’s how you learn who I am the most. My emotions and thoughts just won’t keep to themselves. I suppose everyone needs an outlet, and poetry is mine.
Sometimes there’s thoughts that linger with you for years. Words that you scribble within the full flush of heated emotion, editing in the calm of the next day. Sometimes, you observe life’s patterns and as you chat with people, you realize you’re not alone. You’re not the only one who sees things this way. And maybe other people see it too. So, you scribble it down, too.
This collection is a bit of that and more. I write first as a person, then as a woman and then as a black woman. That’s how I see myself. I’ve noticed with others, my race seems to supersede all other aspects of myself. I needed this conversation to be larger than that. I discuss love, jealousy, domestic violence, writer’s block as well as race issues. I wanted to write about things that were both personal and observational. My experience and any woman’s combined, which is what lead to the cover of the book.
Let me tell you a little about how I came to the name, “The Shaping of an “Angry” Black Woman.”
I wanted a chance to talk about myself and give an idea of who I am as a person and as a writer. To allow people a bit more access to me and to share. Even though it’s scary, sometimes it’s necessary. I’m going to share one of my poems with you.
Here’s one of my favorite poems from the book. I decided a few years ago to stop putting relaxers in my hair. I had been putting home kits in my hair since I was 12, and my hair was starting to show the wear and tear. It was breaking off, didn’t have a luster or shine to it. To put it bluntly, it looked like shit. I decided I needed a change, and stopped with all the processing. I noticed people’s reactions to it, and then I started noticing how other black women treat each other about hair, and how society judges hair choices period. And so this poem was born.
Rhonda Lee, the meteorologist I referred to, fired for cutting off her hair, was just hired recently. She was fired in 2012. That is an incredibly interesting story in itself.
I find myself going back to spoken word often, which that poem was an example. There’s an inherent freedom in having no real form, but still trying to make it sound lyrical. Putting things in perspective using voice and body, as well as word choice and rhythm. Many of the poems in The Shaping of an Angry Black Woman are spoken word poets, and others are just poems.
Do any of you write poetry or like to read/watch poetry? Who are your favorite poets? Maybe there’s someone who’s new to me on your list. Thank you again for having me, Belinda, and it’s nice to meet you all.
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Tamara Woods was raised (fairly happily) in West Virginia, where she began writing poetry at the age of 12. Her first poetry collection is available at Sakura Publishing and at Amazon. She has previous experience as a newspaper journalist, an event organizer, volunteer with AmeriCorps and VISTA, in addition to work with people with disabilities. She has used her writing background to capture emotions and moments in time for anthologies such as Empirical Magazine, her blog, PenPaperPad, and writing articles as a full-time freelance writer for places like LeftyPop. She is a hillbilly hermit in Honolulu living with her Mathmagician.