Thank You

•March 24, 2017 • Leave a Comment

 

I befriended someone on Facebook recently that completely blew my mind.  I am not trying to put someone out there who doesn’t want to be public about this, but I am sending out an invitation for you to post on my Timeline the photo and kind words you sent to me in that private message.

I know that most of you haven’t read my short story The Black Fire, the whole story.  In a brief description it is the story behind a poem I wrote a whole lot of years ago.

I did post a video of me reciting the poem on Facebook for Women’s History Month.  Unfortunately, I had the bright idea to put music in the back ground.  One of my close friends and critics told me that the music was a distraction from the poem.  Oh well, we learn from our mistakes.  It’s not the worst mistake I’ve ever made, that was when I put live electricity in my mouth.  Let’s just say that was an enlightening experience.

I am sorry I am veering off of the point; let me get back to it.  The poem The Black Fire really took on a life.  You wouldn’t believe some of the things that happened after I wrote it and put it out there.  The lunacies included that I got arrested.

Let me go a little deeper into that arrest issue.  I went out celebrating the success of the poem.  I honestly don’t remember whether or not it was published in the anthology, but I know for sure that it got an honorable mention in the international contest.  I was disappointed that I didn’t win the contest, but what sent me over the moon was the beautiful letter that came along with a certificate.  Of course I had to go out celebrating.

Let me tell you, that was one costly night.  Here’s the itemized bill.  I got the crap beat out of me (I gave as good as I got, trust me). I was almost taken into central park where this man was going to do whatever to me. I was robbed of about $175. 00 and ended up with a record because I copped a plea (which is the one and only thing in my life that I truly regret) at the urging of my pro bono lawyer. To add a bitter twist to it, I ended up losing the letter I was out celebrating and the outline for the novel I was about to write.  (Thanks to the police.)

After all was said and done that female canine (my lawyer) had the audacity to turn to me and say “Hmm …….. Since you call yourself a writer you can chalk this up to experience and maybe make a story out of it.”  You had to see the way that she said it.  I wanted to stomp her into a stain on the courtroom floor.

I went home and I wrote that story day and night, from beginning to end.  It was the hardest thing I had ever done.  I didn’t know what the hell I was doing.  I just knew that I was going to do it and I did.

In that story I addressed her directly.

I took the very first copy back to that courtroom and I handed it to her.  I told her exactly what page to turn to where I addressed her.  I stood there and I watched her read it.  She started crying and I walked away.  Then I distributed as many copies of it as I could.

The weird thing about that story is the crazy things that ensued during and after I wrote it.  I am thinking about adding it into the book I am currently putting together.  And yes, I will add in the rest of the foolishness pertaining to the story that has transpired since I wrote the whole story out because it has continued on even after all of these years (at least 10).  It’s unreal, but it’s a true story.

I am saying to you (the person I befriended on Facebook) , I can’t believe that you kept that copy in pristine condition all of these years.  I honor you with my deepest and sincerest gratitude.  I would like to thank you publicly.  It is the kind folks like you that I write for.

If you choose not to post it on my Facebook Timeline it’s okay.  I just want you to know that for the rest of my day when I saw your message I had that song by Katrina And The Waves, Walking On Sunshine stuck in my head.

As a last thought I would like to share with everyone two of the books in my library that have left a lasting impression on me.

By the time I got to the end of Dwarf my eyes and my mouth were wide open.

I loved reading Sugar.  That is a truly entertaining read.

I thank you all for letting me take up your time once again.

Peace and Blessings.

Ms Petra

 

Thoughts on writing

•March 4, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I believe in the saying; we all have a story within us.  I wish that everyone would get it out there so that I can read it.  Story telling is something that we have done since we walked out of the cave.  In fact we wrote our first stories on the walls of the cave.writingsoncavewalls

From time to time I think back to my first experience at writing something other than poetry.  It was the story behind the poem The Black Fire.  It was written because of the pro bono lawyer that was given to me after I was out celebrating the success of the poem The Black Fire and got arrested.

The end result for that night was me copping a plea (which I sincerely regret) at the advice of my pro bono lawyer.  After everything was said and done she made a snide remark as she was leaving “Hmm, since you call yourself a writer chalk it up to experience and make a story out of it.”

I was so angry that I faded to black. I went home and did just that.  I wrote The Black Fire the whole story.  I let my fingers fly until it was done! I have to admit that it was the hardest thing that I had ever done.

My satisfaction was petty.  I addressed her in that true short story (I would not say that it was in a good way).  Once it was completed I went back to that courtroom the next day and handed her a copy of it.  Also, I told her what page to go to (where I addressed her directly).  I stood there and watched her read it and she started crying.  I turned and left the courtroom.

The point for me in telling you the story is how writing that story changed why I write and the way that I write.  In my efforts to write that story I realized that I didn’t know what the hell I was doing.  Working it through to completion was excruciating.  My colonoscopy was easier and more enjoyable.

Writing is a craft, a skill that I had to learn.  That is if I wanted to convey what I wanted to say in the way that I wanted it to be received by the reader.  I know that I didn’t have a natural ability because of the success of my poetry.  That was simply dumb luck.  If I wanted to be a writer of any kind (poetry, essay, fiction and or nonfiction) I needed to learn how to do it correctly.

I appreciated the impact that first story had on people, even to this day I am asked to read portions of it at events.  I show up and step up.  A lot of people benefited from my experience and that’s why I wrote it (and for revenge on that pro bono female canine).  That is also when I learned the weight of the written word.

I became fixated on learning the craft of writing.  From that moment forth I have been a student in the art of writing.  I have an extensive library on the craft of writing, and an extensive library of both fiction and nonfiction; a lot of those books are Nobel Prize winning literature.

I’m sorry I digressed; let me get back to the point.

The first thing I realized about writing is that I had  to have a good working knowledge of grammar, punctuation and structure.  That is how the story reads and is perceived by the reader.  I was a kindergarten dropout.  I had to study grammar and punctuation to the point where it was ingrained in my being. That was where I started.  I bought a copy of both Elements of style  and English Grammar and Punctuation.  I give myself a refresher with one of them every once and a while and I learn something new every time.  I never use the computer’s spell and grammar check.  I do it myself.

Another great source for learning the craft of writing is one of my favorite websites.  www.archive.org.  You can download great books on writing for free.

After that I worked on my vocabulary.  Increasing my vocabulary is a never ending journey.  Whenever I write I have both a dictionary and thesaurus open.  I was surprised at how often I was misusing words.  I check the meaning of the words I use, even when I think I know for sure what it means and a lot of the time I have been wrong.  I use the thesaurus to help me eliminate redundancy.  It makes readers lose interest if the same words are repeated too often or too close together. The people who enjoy my writings (I think, is because of the fresh and vibrant wording I utilize.).  They never know what to expect from a story I have written.  Also, I use an Oxford dictionary when I am writing a period piece so that I am not using words in dialogue that weren’t used in that time period.

I try my best to be careful with homonyms.  That’s a hard one.  The first one that got me was peaked.  Here’s the  example.  That really peaked my interest.  I didn’t know that it should have been piqued.  There are a lot of them and I am sorry, but the spell and grammar check won’t fix it.  Once submitted, the copy editor will be chuckling as he or she is reading your your story and then they will probably make those quick fixes for you.

Now I’m going to make you chuckle with a few funny puns.

He had a photographic memory that was never developed.  Did you hear about the guy who had his whole left side cut off?  He’s alright now.  A dentist and a manicurist fought tooth and nail.  The short fortune teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.  A Thief who stole a calendar got 12 months.  Remember this one fellow writer’s; to write with a broken pencil is pointless.

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Finally folks there’s the editing.  Once you’ve got that first draft done, that’s when you refine it to make it exactly what you want it to be.   I will be doing another blog about that at another time.

Once you learn the craft of writing it will come easily and you will take it to a level of art that you will be proud of.  Also, you will have a ball every time you sit down to write.  It doesn’t matter how, pen to paper, voice recorder and or computer.  I can only hope that it will be as much fun for you as it is for me.

Peace and Blessings

Petra

My travels, My thoughts

•January 28, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Just yesterday I was in route to the train station on 86th street and Lexington Avenue.  I slowed down my pace a little bit in the hopes of seeing someone smoking.  I was hoping to get a light for my cigarette.  I don’t own a lighter because I don’t smoke often enough to have one.

Just as I got to the train station entrance I decided “Oh well, I’ll get a light when I get to the Bronx.”  Before I went down the first step I saw an older Caucasian woman buy a pack of Newport cigarettes from the news stand.  I went over to her and asked her for a light.  She said to me “I don’t know if I have a light.  I stopped smoking ten years ago.”  I scrunched up my eyebrows and said “Huh”.  Before I could ask she continued on.

“Yea, I started back smoking the day after the election.”  She searched her pockets, found a lighter and gave it to me.  I wish you could have seen the look on her face.

Wow, I thought to myself.  I lit my cigarette gave her back her lighter and wished her Peace and blessings.  I took my couple of puffs, tossed the rest of it and went on my merry way.

That conversation has stuck with me ever since we had it.  I have given it a lot of thought.  I’ve thought about everything concerning it, the campaigns, the election, the aftermath and everything else.

This is what I think:

barakfamily

The former president and first family represented from January 20th, 2009 – January 20th, 20017.  They served with style and grace.  They not only represented African Americans.  They were for the people, all of the people.

A great man (Martin Luther King Jr.) talked about a dream he had.  In that speech he talked about a check that was written in the constitution of the United States of America that was to all of the people of this great nation.  He said that we were coming to cash it, and we marched.

martin-march

It was a long time in coming, but Barack, Michelle and the girls did just that and we were behind them.  They stood on the shoulders of so many that it’s too many for me to mention.  A glass ceiling was demolished, on that day in November of 2008.

A lot has been said about the campaigns, the election of 2016 and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.  I am going to address them individually.

Hillary Clinton has had a long and distinguished career in politics.  She has gotten more done than any other secretary of state that we have ever had male or female.hillary

In addition to that she has been a champion for women and women’s rights not only in the United States, but all over the world.  In a way her career echoed and illustrated the words for us all that were written by Maya Angelou in her poem “Phenomenal Woman” and she did that for all women.

If you ever have the time give a listen or a read to the speech that she gave in Beijing, China on September 5th, 1995.

As far as the campaigns and the election are concerned it is obvious to everyone that there were a lot of shenanigans that went on including lying, cheating, trickery, sabotage and interference.  Thank God for small favors, that it’s over and done with.

There are a man’s words that I listen to each and every time I have time.  One thing sticks t in my mind when I think of the campaigns and the election.  That is and I quote “When we look to the past we are placing blame.  When we look to the future we are taking responsibility.”  That is from Brian Tracy, Power of achievement.bryan-tracy

(If my apartment caught on fire that cassette series would be one of the things that I would risk my life to save, my cat would be on his own.  Just kidding I have no pets. lol)

Moving on, how a man who hated on everyone and everything got elected is crazy, even with everything that went on in the race for the presidency.  The nerve of some people, he is of German decent (his ancestral name is drumpf it was changed to trump when his ancestor freidrick drumpf moved to the United States.  He was ashamed of his German heritage, tried to play it off like he was American and changed his name to trump.  I’m no psychiatrist, but so much hatred for immigrants reeks of self-loathing.  It’s sad, he hates on everyone including himself.  And, like his ancestor he lies like a chain smoker smokes cigarettes, one after the other.  That being said, as far as donald trump is concerned I have to quote the title of one of my poems “The Devil Is A Liar”.  It’s on my fanstory page.

In looking to the future and not the past, donald, the world is watching you, as soon as you cross that line your run is OVER.  You will be impeached!  The election was just the appetizer.  As far as dinner is concerned You Are On The Menu.  We are all licking our lips.  You are nothing more than a taco with salsa on it!  You aren’t even worth a burp afterwards.

Finally, as far as the aftermath is concerned, yes I am addressing the violence and divide in the country.  Let us not follow that fool’s (donald) example.  Let us follow a higher level of consciousness. mayapic Again I quote Maya Angelou “Still I rise”.  Yes I/we will rise above it, together.

I don’t mean to burst any bubbles, but there is no one religion that is better than the rest.  There is no love between two consenting adults that is better than the other.  There is no race that is better than the rest of us.  There is no one country that has a monopoly over all others.

We all share this planet together.  I say that to say that what one country, person, politician, law enforcement agency etc. has an effect that at times will have aftershocks like a volcanic eruptions that can cause tremors throughout the entire world.  The 2016 election seemed to have the aftereffect of that of a tsunami of lunacy.

Look, I don’t have to share your beliefs.  You have your beliefs and I have mine.  I will not raise my hand against you because you believe differently or because you love differently or the color of your skin is not the same shade as mine.

Don’t blame me or anyone else for that matter because you are not happy with your life.  As my grandma Helena Henville always said to me “Your life is your red wagon, you can push it or pull it.”  When I got a little bit of life experience under my belt I understood what she meant.  My joy and my happiness is my responsibility.  You can’t give it to me and you sure as hell can’t take it away.

All I can talk about at this time is me and how I feel.  I keep my heart open. I keep my eyes open and when need be my mouth open to speak up in protest when I feel it necessary.  And though I will only raise my hand to strike you in self-defense I will (quickly and easily) raise my voice and a banner in protest of any travesty of justice or cause I see fit, and I will do so in a peaceful manner.

Today is a good day to raise my skills as an author and utilize what God gave me (the word).  You can read it or not, take it or leave it.  I wish peace and blessings to everyone and I hope that today is a good day for you too.

Ms. Petra Henville

Artist, Poet, Author, and Dreamer

Wish You Were There

•June 13, 2011 • 4 Comments

Hey everyone!  I had a great time at Inner Voices: An Afternoon of Poetry at the PL on 125th street Saturday.  What a showing.  For the short notice, the weather and all of the fabulous events that went on Saturday (the Puerto Rican festival in harlem, that huge Bar-B-Q also in the city and the Pride event in Brooklyn) I was shocked to see so many people waft in.  The sun didn’t come out but the fresh faces of poetry sure came out to shine.

I was there at the invite of Nicole Goodwin (founder of Sacred Pages Productions) who put it all together.  It was only my second time performing my poetry in front of a live audience in 10 years.  I was holding it down until Nicole called my name to get up there.  At the thought of all the talent that preceded my nerves unraveled.  I think I was visibly shaking.  My fellow poets cheered me on so I went on.  I performed  my poems The Devil Is A Liar, Give Me Yours and I Said Goodbye.  Judging by the rousing round of applaus I think I did O.K. (I hope I did.)  I’m sorry I don’t have any pic’s for you to see.

Overall it was everything you would expect from a gathering of true artists performing thier work.  There was a full spectrum of poetry that ranged from sweet sugary words that left a smile to an enlightened stream of consciousness that held a deep and heavy message.  One gentleman got up and hit us all with something so cerebral that it seemed to enter your ear canal, circle around to the back of your head and burrow it’s way into your brainstem.  He rattled it off with such a flow one sister had her eyes closed and she was rocking back and forth with the rhythm.  She got high (on the words).  I thought she was going to fall off of her chair.  Personally speaking, it made me hot!  The whole event (if I were to describe it in one word) was sexy.  Maybe it was the fact that I felt naked without my entourage or that it was all poets there sharing the wealth with one another.  Wow!  It doesn’t get any better than that.

I have to say that everybody there did thier thing including the librarian.  She got me to get a new library card and we all signed letters to help keep the libraries open.  Mad, crazy twisted, mangled and bent kudos to her for having the foresight to host and event such as that at that branch.

One thing Nicole, next time give me a little more advance notice so that I can have at least one of my folks accompany me.  Someone has to take the photos for my blog!

 Much love everyone.