Category Archives: Interview

Catching Up With Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman: The Moxie Bee Interview

Catching Up With Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman: The Moxie Bee Interview

Last week The Moxie Bee featured the poetry of the multi-talented  Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman, who also sings as Khadijah Moon.

You can read about how her stage name evolved into its current celestial incarnation at her Artsy Moon blog.

Calling her a renaissance woman almost doesn’t cover her creative output: poetry, short stories, plays, songs, the production of events and programs, and soon–films.

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Khadijah Moon Press Photo

Featured here today is her new single, titled “hunger”.

 

 

The song was written in response to her mother’s death during a period of estrangement, as she dealt with the pain of losing her with unfinished business left behind.

 

Khadijah shared some of the song’s back-story on her blog:

I wrote this song “hunger “less than a month after she died.  I have questions.  

I have this intense love.  I have a lot of anger.  What came out was a letter to her in song about all of that.  My life partner, who is also my producer, composed beautiful music on his guitar to accompany the song and this is what we came up with.

I shared  the song on my Facebook personal page yesterday and received feedback from others who had similar relationships with their mothers, could relate to the sentiment.  I received feedback from folks who have (or have had) struggle-free relationships with their moms and still could find value in the words of the song, even more grateful for their relationships with their mothers.

The song is beautiful; the sound is warm and smooth,  with an undertone of ache that is never maudlin.

I encourage you to buy it, download it, and add it to your collection.

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Khadijah Moon, Hunger–the new smash single!

 

But wait–there’s more: Khadijah is also known as The Creative Midwife™, which is the business she created to help anyone with a creative dream bring it to life. 

 

I caught up with Khadijah just after I published two of her poems and some information on her many creative activities.

The Moxie Bee:  What came first for you: singing, poetry, creative mentoring?

Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman: I’ve been writing since I could write words, I think.

I remember writing songs, as a little kid (inappropriate songs, at that) and short stories as early as elementary school.

Whenever I learned a new form of writing formally, I embraced it lovingly and would play around with it on my own.

It went hand in hand with my voracious appetite for reading.

I’ve written poems, plays, songs, short stories and (incomplete) novels nonstop since childhood.

Very thankful to have had some of my work published, plays produced and songs recorded.

I began loving to sing as I started to fall in love with musical theater and getting to sing more in music classes.

I recall the kick off of my singing on stage being this one year where I convinced my 5 year-old sister to sing “My Favorite Things” in the school talent show while I played it on piano.

 

I was so proud that I had learned how to play it. When we went to audition, she ran off stage in the middle of me playing and, to play it off, I started singing it.

 

The teachers auditioning us loved it. I wound up singing it for my 6th grade graduation that year instead of the talent show.

 

 The Moxie Bee: What music most fuels your urge to create?

 

Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman: Honestly, I don’t know

 

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Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman and her daughter.

 

The Moxie Bee:  What inspired you to start working as a creative midwife–helping others birth and fulfill their creativity?

 

Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman:  I began to brand myself as a creativity coach when I started to get inquiries from others on how to self-publish after I published the first anthology in the Liberated Muse book anthology series.

 

I started doing workshops and then decided to offer basic editing and proofreading services until one of my clients, the late Nathan Seven Scott, started wanting to work with me in more of a coaching capacity.

 

I helped him with organizing his concepts, which led to our sessions really becoming breakthrough moments.

 

I would assign him readings of online resources and really worked with helping him build his skills which led to him really expanding his goals to writing more books, building a writing team, etc.

 

My work with him inspired me to want to do more with other clients.

 

I chose the name The Creative Midwife because the most significant moment in my life was giving birth to my daughter with the assistance of a team of midwives who were the epitome of grace, nurturing and expertise.

 

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My beautiful brown baby– now a pre-teen– would not have arrived safely (during a hurricane, no less) if it weren’t for the care of the midwives who helped me.

 

The Moxie Bee:  Who are your creative heroes and heroines?

 

Khadijah Moon: Toni Morrison is one of my main inspirations lately when it comes to writing.

 

Her unapologetic attention to her characters, crafting them from a perspective not dependent on a white gaze is empowering, inspiring and validating.

 

I have always loved the poetry of Langston Hughes.

 

His simple phrasing coupled with ironic yet charming storytelling always captivated me as a child and I love it to this day.

 

The way he said a lot without writing a lot is a gift very few have.

 

Lastly, I cannot fail to mention Robert Frost.

 

Learning about him in 10th grade English at Friendly High School in Maryland with the best English teacher every, Mr. Poniatowski was a turning point for me as a writer and reader.

 

Robert Frost’s “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” engaged me in literary analysis and understanding how words can be arranged in a way to say so much that can be interpreted in different ways based on the experience of the beholder, like visual art.

 

I can go on and on about people who I look at as s/heroes but those mentioned have been the most consistent.

 

The Moxie Bee: Have you participated in the Black Poets Speak Out project?

 

Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman:  Yes, I have participated in Black Poets Speak Out.

 

Links to poems can be found at http://www.culturalfront.org/2014/11/a-roundup-of-blackpoetsspeakout.html under my full name Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman.

 

The Moxie Bee:   Are you active in the #BlackLivesMatter movement?

 

Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman: I am active in the #BlackLivesMatter movement by creating programs and art.

An upcoming event is tomorrow. (Editor’s Note: The event described in the flier below took place the day after our interview.)

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Connect with Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman

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Contact her at: Khadijah@khadijahonline.com

Passionately human and deliciously creative, Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman is The Creative Midwife™. Let The Creative Midwife™ Help You Birth Your Creative Dreams Today!

 

Learn more and book her services today at BirthYourCreativity.com

 

Read some of these articles for creatives:

5 Tips to Rejuvenate Your Artist Spirit

4 Ways to Find Your Tribe

Tech-Savvy Artists Needed for 2016 Conference

 

 

Raven Bland, Youth Poet Laureate, Norfolk, VA: The Moxie Bee Interview

Raven Bland: The Moxie Bee Interview

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Raven Bland describes herself as someone who doesn’t seek attention, but there is a directness and a strength in her voice which makes one pay attention to her words.   Raven Bland, featured on The Moxie Bee earlier this week,  is Norfolk, VA’s first Youth Poet Laureate.  Despite a very busy schedule packed with college courses at ODU, part time work, and her YPL duties, Raven agreed to an interview last week.

The Moxie Bee:  Do you find time to write as a working college student?

Raven Bland: I don’t have those moments that I used to have where I’d sit down and say, “I’m going to write.”  If something happens or I’m feeling a certain way,  I will write it out.  But, if I’m not inspired I don’t very often.

The Moxie Bee:  What are you reading right now?

Raven Bland: *laughs* Text books! I’m a History/Poli. Sci major, so there is a LOT of reading.  My sister got me this app called Watt Pad where new writers who aren’t yet famous can upload short stories or even a chapter of a book.  In between things I can just read a couple short stories or part of a novel.  

The Moxie Bee:  What was the first poem you ever read?

Raven Bland: Mine or someone else’s? 

The Moxie Bee:  *laughs* Both.

Raven Bland:   *laughs* OK.  The first poem I read of my own was at my church.  I belonged to the youth group and we had just changed our name to “THIS”, which stands for Totally His.  I wrote a poem about the name change and the meaning behind it.   I read it from the page. Now I like doing spoken word performances better.

The Moxie Bee: Better than reading the poem from the page?

Raven Bland:  Yes. I was very nervous. But that was an amazing day. 

The Moxie Bee: How do you deal with nerves when you perform now?

Raven Bland: I just try to relax. I don’t think about . I look over my poems a little beforehand, and that’s it.  Usually, my family is there–so I talk to them. 

The Moxie Bee: What about the first poem you read by another writer?

Raven Bland: Well, it wasn’t really a poem, but when I was younger, maybe 11 or 12, I read Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”, and how she overcame silence by reading books in the library and then expressing herself through writing–that really spoke to me.  I wanted to write, too. 

The Moxie Bee: And you did!

Raven Bland: Yes!

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Raven Bland, Norfolk, VA, Youth Poet Laureate.

The Moxie Bee: Who are your favorite poets?

Raven Bland: Maya Angelou! *laughs*  I really love what she did. 

The Moxie Bee:*laughs* Yes, I read her around the same age you did. She made an impression.  Any other poets? 

Raven Bland: There are a couple of my friends who are poets in TWP (Teens With a Purpose).  I really like their work.

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Raven Bland, Youth Poet Laureate, April 2015.

The Moxie Bee: What are your duties as Norfolk, VA’s Youth Poet Laureate?

Raven Bland: I’ve done a lot of functions , especially during the summer. I spoke and did a reading for Norfolk Public Library’s Summer Reading program at the new library downtown. One of the poets from TWP turned one of my poems into a song. She sang the first stanza and then I read and she sang the last stanza. 

The Moxie Bee: I would’ve loved to hear that! This was at the Slover Library?

Raven Bland: Yes. It was very nice. Also I do a lot of work with the Norfolk Police Department. I spoke and read at an anti-bullying rally.  Also anti-gang programs. 

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The Moxie Bee:  That’s great to hear. They keep you busy?

Raven Bland: Yes, you know Norfolk has a lot of issues with gang and gun violence.  So we need programs like that.

The Moxie Bee: Yes, I taught in Norfolk.

The Moxie Bee: What has been your favorite part of being Norfolk, VA’s Youth Poet Laureate?

Raven Bland: I meet lots of new people. I’ve made some good connections, especially at the non-profit organizations. After college I’m interested in a career with  a non-profit, or maybe with the government.  

The Moxie Bee: Since you were the very first one, what advice would you have for the next Youth Poet Laureate?

Raven Bland: Know yourself. Know what you’re passionate about, because you’re going to have a chance to reach a lot of people. It really makes it easier if you know your passion and have a plan. 

The Moxie Bee:   What, specifically are your passions? We talked about your work with the NPD on anti-gang/anti-bullying initiatives. Are there other areas you are passionate about?

Raven Bland: My passions are history, political science,religion, and social awareness for the most part.

I’m passionate about compelling people to educate themselves and read up on issues themselves and not depend on generational sentiments about race, or the government, etc. Learn for yourself by listening to various media outlets, newspapers, and magazines. Learn how the government works and not just complain about it. No one can argue with facts, but any one can argue against emotions.
So I said all that to say, I am passionate about education and awareness with anything that you can possibly learn about and form an opinion on.
I hope that answers your question, at least a little.

 

The Moxie Bee:  Yes, that was a very thoughtful answer.

 

The Moxie Bee:When does your book come out?

Raven Bland: Right now I’m sorting through poems. I have a big binder of poems going back to 2007. I’m picking out the ones I feel belong in the book. The goal is to have it ready by the end of January.  Mr. Nathan, is helping me with it; he’s really my mentor for the book project. 

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Nathan Richardson

(Editor’s note: Since 2010 Nathan Richardson has served as the lead coach for the Hampton Roads Youth Poets Slam Team. HRYP is a division of the youth empowerment organization – Teens with a Purpose.)

The Moxie Bee:  I know Nathan Richardson through Facebook and his writing.  We’ve spoken a couple times. Great guy.  And busy!  Wonderful that you’re working with him on the book. When will it be released?

Raven Bland: We’re aiming to get it out in April 2016, before the next Youth Poet Laureate is chosen.

The Moxie Bee: I can’t wait to read it.

Raven Bland:  Thank you! 

The Moxie Bee:  Thank you for making time to talk with me. I know how busy you’ve been, so it’s appreciated.

Raven Bland:  Oh, you’re welcome! I enjoyed it. 

**Postscript**

Raven Bland and I corresponded a bit by email after our interview.  Those of you who know me will recognize that when it comes to young writers and poetry, sometimes I can’t help myself.  Dismayed that such a talented writer as Ms. Bland was not currently reading or being exposed to more contemporary poets, I apologized for being a ‘Poetry Busybody” and sent her a list of poets, books, and poetry video links.

She assured me that I was “perfectly fine” to send her the list and that an older cousin who is also working on a book often encouraged her to widen her literary horizons.  She told me that although she does not have a lot of time she would check out the list.

For now, my work is done.

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