Happy Monday! Welcome to my bi-weekly interview series. I am happy to share with you September’s second interview: the fascinating, beautiful, and gifted poet,Tosha Michelle from the blog — Everything I Never Told You: Lucidly In Shadows, Poetry From A Hand That Writes Misty.
My name is Tosha Michelle and I hail from the land of grits and sweet tea. I’m a poet and author of two books — Confessions of a Reformed Southern Belle and Self Help toSelf Harm. The first is a chapbook and contains some of my earlier poems. The latter is my silly take on the self help genre. I’ve written things since I was a child but I didn’t take up blogging until about five-years-ago.I’m also an abolitionist and Academia addict. I’m the Radio Host of -Chit Chat Chicks Live and La Literati. I’m a book worm and perpetual nerd and dreamer.
2. What Does Writing and Poetry Mean to You Personally?
Poetry — reading it, writing it — is one of my greatest forms of pleasure. There’s so much life and emotion which can be found in poetic verse. I write poetry to release my own demons, to make sense of my feelings, and for the sheer pleasure of self-expression. My poetry, usually, stems from strong emotions either good emotions or emotions which feel bad. I find it easier to write when my senses are heightened and I’m in tune with myinternal angst or joy.
“I write poetry to release my own demons, to make sense of my feelings, and for the sheer pleasure of self-expression. My poetry, usually, stems from strong emotions either good emotions or emotions which feel bad. I find it easier to writ when my senses are heightened . . .” – Tosha Michelle
3. Why Do You Write and Where Do You Find Your Motivation and Inspiration to Write?
I’m a woman-child in a state of grace, struggling to find my voice and place in this world through introspection, self-reflection, and most importantly by social activism and advocacy. I firmly believe in these words: “Be the change you want to see.” It is only through love, tolerance, humility and the understanding of our own fragility that we can begin to find our humanity and, in turn, extend that humanity to others. I hope this comes through in my writing.
4. Are There Personal Causes Behind Your Writing and Values In Life?
Love combined with action can and will make an impact on the world. It takes heart and guts to take on the seemly insurmountable, and we must. We must take a stand against injustices such as human trafficking, child abuse, and poverty.
Can one person change the world?Absolutely! Picture a world without Martin Luther King, without Gandhi, without Mother Teresa, and the countless other men and women who fought injustices in their culture, challenged the unchallengeable, and helped change society for the better.
Changing the world, making a difference where you can, and taking a stand, these are issues I often write about. Writing is a fantastic way to make a difference in the world.
” ‘Be the change you want to see.'” It is only through love, tolerance, humility and the understanding of our own fragility that we can begin to find our humanity and, in turn, extend that humanity to others. I hope this comes through in my writing.” – Tosha Michelle
5. Do You Find There Is a Time Of Day You Most Enjoy Writing? Have You Published Any Writing? What Is Your Most Current Writing Projects?
Mornings are the best time to write, there’s something inspiring about the promise of anew day. As I stated earlier, I wrote Confessions of A Warm Southern Belle and the book, Self Help To Harm. As for projects, I’m working on putting together a collection of my more recent poems. I also have a project with a fellow poet. We are working on a book together.
Confessions of A Warm Southern Belle: A Poet’s Collection of Love, Loss, and Renewal
4. What Is Your Writing Process Like? How Did You Publish Your Books? I self-published on Amazon, the process was fairly easy. The hard part is marketingyourself and your writing. I’m not sure if I would take the self-publishing route again. I tend to write obsessively and in spurts. I need a quiet place to create, with no music, TV, or other distractions.
5. Do You Prefer Certain Areas of Writing or Reading Genres? Any Helpful Advice For Other Writers?
I love poetry and I am a huge fiction fan. I also read a lot of non-fiction as well. I’m a history buff and adore anything related to history and the past. Writing is such a personal thing and I can only speak to what helps me. Writing every day is something I practice. I also read a great deal. I do think writing and reading go together like biscuits and gravy or cornbread and milk. My Southern roots are showing 🙂
I think you need to just be yourself. There’s something lovely about being authentic and real in writing and in life.
” . . .[Writing] and reading go together like biscuits and gravy or cornbread and milk . . . I think you need to just be yourself. There’s something lovely about being authentic and real in writing and in life.” – Tosha Michelle.
6. Can You Please Share A Few Links From Your Blog With Your Favorite Or Most Loved Pieces?
Thank you Tosha Michelle, for answering my interview questions. I enjoyed reading your answers and the books you have written both seem as if they’ll be great reads. I know the poetry will be awesome, but I think you perspective on dating, love etc. would be an interesting read as well. I hope everyone will check them out on Amazon. Also, love that you are an advocate for change for the terrible things happening in our world.
Would you like to share about yourself, your writing, and your writing process? Please reach-out to my through my Contact Page and I will send you some interview questions. I would love to feature you on my bi-weekly interview series, whatever kind of writing you adore. Thanks for reading 🙂
Happy 4th of July my American friends. I’m sure it’s nice to have the Monday off work if you work usually. I’m also sure there are fun festivities and celebrations happening in the US today. Anyways, here’s some quotes to think about this July.
Thank you for reading. I guess some of these quotes were more poems, but as you know poems have significant inspirational affects as well as quotes. My favourites are #8, #10, and #15. How about you?
What makes me bleed a drop, every time I think of you,
Are all the moments I lost, the times with and without you I can’t undo.
What causes my fragile heart to scar, a little more, is not just that you never made much effort to talk to me and at least pretend you cared; it’s that I didn’t know how to deal with you, so I ignored you until the sight of you made my stomach sore.
Somethings never go away.
What plays over and over in my mind, that I didn’t want to be one of those girls who liked you too and called me Bitch behind my back; but I became one of those girls anyways and all I had to do was be a bitch myself.
What brings tears to my eyes, is the fact that I didn’t know you well, but I’ll never forget you despite the fact.
You are in my mind that ideal guy that I will never have because I was good enough but you still didn’t try.
Somethings Never Go Away
I built you up, and I knocked myself down, but you never stood up for me, you never cared about me how I cared about you; you liked the way I liked you but never tried to bring me inside your group of friends; despite the fact I was so shy, you didn’t know how to deal with shy people — you were so outgoing.
And it kills me now that I’m drudging up the past for the one thousandth time.
I just realized I’ll never have closure, until I meet someone who compares; because that’s the problem the swell of emotion I felt for you rivalled the tide as it goes up hundreds of feet high, rivals the waves in mid-ocean where one could be entirely alone and drown in anononimity.
Somethings Never Go Away
What I feel for him, it doesn’t compare — it’s a quiet kind of love and so much more reassuring. So much gentler and still I feel stunned.
Wondering why I don’t feel such emotion, wondering why I’m just safe and secure but wanting conversation; all I ever wanted was to know you and your conversation.
And your so imperfect it’s blinding.
But I don’t forget and I don’t want you, but I’ll never have you so I’m unhappy it doesn’t make sense.
Is the grass greener on the other side? Not Unless you’ve learned compassion or care for me at all.
But all signs point to otherwise, I’m a girl with broken butterfly wings just waiting to be crushed.
By a past she can’t forget because of the powerful attraction you stirred in her, the color that emerged in blinding sapphire blue.
Somethings Never Go Away.
And yet I wouldn’t trade a moment with him for you and I’m not even sure about him.
I’m a flitty floating cloud about to be stormed by the realization I can’t forgive myself for how I acted years ago. That there’s no okay ending makes me always wonder and will until the day I die.
Maybe when you marry I’ll finally get the picture.
But maybe I’m a tiny bird who wears all her love on her wing.
And wonders, what was your place really in my life?
Somethings Never Go Away
I have already complained and exclaimed in my blog many times about my health problems. And when it’s suited the prompt, I have shared details about my issues during this course. But I didn’t set out wanting to do that. You see, it’s extremely easy to get caught in your problems, to drown yourself in them, if you allow yourself to be pulled in that direction. I found myself before this writing course being overwhelmed by my health issues. But I wanted to experiment and find new ideas to write on. My problem is sometimes It’s hard to find your way out of a hole you’ve been digging or found dug for you.
But when it comes down to it, whatever your experiences are, they shape you and mold you. Your experiences change you and alter the person you once were. I have learned a long time ago that I will never be the 23-year-old who lived a care-free life, just worrying about whether some guy liked her and spending my free time drinking and partying with my friends. Sickness led me to see what is important in life and what really matters. I don’t think the girl I was saw what was vital in life.
She didn’t see how important her family was to her person, she undervalued an almost photographic memory, she cared too much what others thought about her, she was too shy to go after many goals she wanted, and she wasn’t hungry because she had never been starved for much of anything in life. But one way I still feel like that girl is when I write. The ease with which words flow, the rightness I feel when I write, the creativity, I’m able to express through words.
So, not being able to work and not being able to take the courses I wanted to this Fall, I was grateful that I could take a course where I could write and express myself in Writing 101. I was grateful to be able to grow and I was grateful for a moment to just feel 23-years-old again, even if I never knew what I know now. I have lost most of my 20’s to sickness but I have also gained so much because of those losses. Those are experiences I’m glad to share when I write, those are unique happenings in my life that I value as much as I want to leave them behind. There is no better teacher then loss.
How would you describe yourself to the people around you? Would you give a physical description, talk about the things you are good at, and describe your internal qualities? What if suddenly, the idea of who you thought yourself was, disappeared and what you were left with was some broken version of yourself, a shadow that you didn’t know and you weren’t sure how you had become the way you were.
That’s how it felt for me when I became very ill at the age of 23 years. It began with some very bad days in the office, days I could barely get through because I just didn’t have the energy. I would leave the gym at the end of the day dragging my feet and barely able to make it home on the bus. Then I began to cry, little things would bother me and I couldn’t concentrate on work just as I used to be able to do. Then something even stranger happened people began to say extremely rude comments to me almost as an after thought. They would tell me whatever they had to tel tell me ‘ Photocopy this for me…” then something very mean. This was particularly the case with certain people. Then I had trouble sleeping, I would lie awake all night, I began to lose weight, and I didn’t feel much like eating.
What I didn’t understand then, was that this was the beginning of a psychotic episode. To this day my doctors and I don’t know why I had it but I have never quite healed from it. Everything became so bad that I couldn’t work, I had a break down. Then I would sit at home and the thoughts in my head would go round and round and I began to hear more voices not just after comments people made to me but from the Television or Radio, from my dog. When these thoughts became nearly suicidal, I went into hospital at the Royal Alex and it was awful being there and hearing things. But one day my doctor started giving me this anti-psychotic drug called Invega and the voices stopped. What remained after my psychosis had passed was the shell of a person. A person it took me at least 3 years to get back and still even today I realize I will never be the same person I was before my unexplained psychosis.
After the psychosis followed a mini-depression. I could barely read after that and I had so much trouble filling out the application for long-term disability because my writing was very shaky and looked more like a grade 4 student’s writing then someone who had recently gotten their BA in English with a 3.7 average.
I was slow to heal. At first I could only go out for 1/2 hour before returning home exhausted. I still needed to sleep a great deal of the day and I had the sharpest burning pain in my shoulders and neck. I felt entirely lost. The conversation of my friends was too fast for me. I couldn’t go to 3/4 of the events we had planned because I didn’t have the energy. I had gone from 160lbs, a healthy weight for me, to 143 lbs, I weight I hadn’t weighed since I was 15 years old and as skinny as you could get. Soon the effects of the medication set in and my weight sky rocketed to 175 lbs. I was uncomfortable in my new fatter body and I didn’t like it. I did not have the energy to do exercise or barely more than a walk or a Pilates 20 minute DVD.
And to tell you the truth, somethings I have just never recovered from. It is 6 years later and I still have trouble concentrating and paying
attention. I have days where I can get much done and days where I can’t get anything done. My doctor’s and I are pretty sure I developed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome after the Psychosis and I have dealt with that constantly. The other possibility is since we have most likely determined my psychosis occurred because I was so depressed, is that I have chronic fatigue from depression. But most signs point to the syndrome.
In these past years I have seem my friends develop careers, make many new friends, and start families. In many ways I feel left behind, that my path changed course and I don’t know why. And I don’t why what I have won’t heal. For me this is the biggest personal sense of loss I have felt in a long time because it as if somewhere in these past 6 years, I have lost myself, my dreams, my goals, and I’m not sure what the future holds. I just take things days by day because that’s how I can get through it.
Because I never heard a word from you
I assumed everything. And each day that passed at first,
The missing you hurt, there is pain in being someone’s “mine.”
As the days passed, reality returned and I stopped,
Thinking about you so much, I thought about my life
How ever piece was melded together, yet fragile as a bubble
I worked, I rested, I spent time with friends, and I shopped
For Christmas presents, scrawling sparkled cards as the days slipped by.
I waited. But I did not hear your voice and I had left phone messages.
I imagined a hundred things but mostly, that you were at work and
Punishing me somehow for something I had written beforehand,
Something I wrote in anger and shared with the world.
Tonight I decided it was time to write some words again because
You inspire me, missing you every second stirs the misery in me
And I think about the future, all the days I will spend alone.
I think if I have things to keep me busy I will be happy and yet,
The weeks pass by in lonely lentement. I decided to separate myself from you.
Keep myself to my own. Because when you’re here you’ll take me again
And I will no longer be just be my own. It’s hard being owned.
It’s a word every woman, every enslaved being detests.
But what we never really keep in mind is that we are always giving
Pieces of ourselves away to be kept safe when we trust someone.
In this way we are owned, especially by our lovers.
Those who know us deepest and can rip our hearts to pieces.
Not a word, not a word, you haven’t told me anything.
And I think that it is snowing, that you just have bad cell reception.
That the storm is keeping you away from the internet, from saying anything.
That you are not even able to call because you just can’t.
I think that your busy and that your just ignoring me because you don’t think
The order of my days is interesting, it doesn’t deserve a reply.
But excuse me for posting online these words, not in anger but in hurt.
I don’t think all this is likely, I just think you don’t want to talk to me.
That you would try to get in touch with me after a week.
And I doubt, that you’ll try next week, until the end of the week after.
Then you’ll want something, or maybe not, I do not know
My poor heart thumps uncomfortably slow
Don’t you know one word from you and I would be just fine.
I wouldn’t write emails where I wonder why you don’t talk to me.
I would live my life and be okay because I know that we are okay and that
You actually take time to think about me in your days as I think about you.
I believe you do but I don’t know what lack of communication means.
Because I am owned and then unknown I lack soul to care anymore
My mind rolls with questions, but I’ve closed the door on whether or not
You will bother to say hello this shift, I just live my own life.
And wait out the silence, I can hear my own heart beat it says be tough
And be self-reliant. It doesn’t matter that I needed your advice
It matters that I live my own life… this situation is thin as tissue paper
I crumple it into a ball, and wonder what the weeks ahead will bring.
I text too much perhaps, I write too much perhaps, I ask too much perhaps
So I will think of you and whatever you are dealing with.
Pray for you, because I do it anyways. And in the night there’s whispers, dreams of not such distance – where we are both our own and owned together.