MANA's Presents National Women's Month Podcast Featuring Women Authors

In honor of National Women's History Month, (MANA) presents a podcast series of poetry, prose, and narratives from women of different walks of life.

This segment features: 

• "A Black Woman" from Poems of the Spirit: In God's Hands by Prophetess Shirley Barnett

• "Different" from Simply: A Collection of Poetry by Jessyca Mathews

People's Perception of Bessie Helen Lambert Straham: A Miracle on Barrington Drive by Bessie Helen Straham

• "Searching for New Words" and "Boston Waltz" from Selling Memories: Poems and Tales for my Grandchildren When They Grow Up by Rita Gitik

Enjoy the podcast as MANA's DR C reads thexcerpts: 

Follow along with DR C as she reads these selections. To preview the book, click on the book title

A Black Woman

Tall, slender legs of perfection.

Competent, impatient, unique in qualities. 

A Black woman.

Poems of the Spirit:
In God's Hands

Wavy, tangled curls or braided extensions.

Smooth, silky skin of many complexions.

A Black woman.

Outgoing, talented, successful. 

A statuette of goddess incomparability.

A Black woman. 

Clever, cunning, artistic in nature.

A leader, dictator, philosopher with genius endowments.

A Black woman.

Loving, humble, kind-hearted.

Stunning, provocative, seductive, poised.

A Black woman. 

Outrageously, dignified with infinite beauty. 

A total package. 

A Black woman.


by Jessyca Mathews

Remember me? 

Simply: A Collection
of Poetry
The only black girl in class within the school in the heart of suburbia. 

I wore the same clothing as you

The ...jeans and imposter polos with collar upward toward the heavens. 

I made sure to attempt to fit in. 

But it didn't matter. 

I was different. 

Even the teachers knew.

They were shocked I had different views, but more shocked I did well in my grades.

I guess I wasn't supposed to be the honors student. 

No matter how I saw me back then. 

It didn't matter. 

You saw me only one way. 

I'm different.

erpt from People's Perception of Bessie Helen Lambert Straham: A Miracle on Barrington Drive by Bessie Helen Straham

People's Perceptions of 
Bessie Helen Lambert

"If you want to know about an individual, ask the people who have been in that person's life. And that is what this book is doing. Instead of my writing about myself, the people who have come in my life will be sharing their perceptions of me. 

And so, if anyone wants to know who Bessie Helen Lambert Straham is, mainly their perceptions will provide a clear image of who I have been for these many years. 

In a conversation with my friend who was a professor at Mott Community College in Flint, Michigan, she shared with me the different topics she had assigned for her composition class. One that particularly interested me was, "How would you want people to remember you when you pass?"  She said she received some very interesting responses. 

For quite a while, I have asked myself the same question. Yes, I have a pretty good sense of myself. But is it the same that others have? What would people remember about me when I pass? 

And just like the professor's students concluded, I, too, have tried to live as I would want to be remembered. Instead of waiting for my final exit, I decided that my memoir would ask and receive the answers while I'm still alive and kicking. And so, this publication is a compilation of special persons' perceptions, with whom I have had contact throughout the years. 

Chapter One. (Quotes about Mrs. Straham)

'Mrs. Straham is a woman of style and grace. She has a good heart. She is a lot smarter than she lets on. Remember, if it's not in writing, it didn't happen. She is one that inspires me to do things the right way which is usually, her way of quote. LOL!'

'I recall being so impressed with Bessie every time I would meet with her or see her at sorority meetings. Bessie always carried herself in such a way that it commanded your attention. She was always well-dressed, very, well-dressed, and always wore a hat. The better I got to know Bessie, the more impressed I was of her, and how she carried herself in a dignified and self-confident manner. She was just so sure of herself and her abilities. From that time, I wanted to be just like her.'


'Bessie set the highest standard for herself. Impeccably dressed and a sophisticated hat were her style and trademark, while she led with characteristics of kindness, confidence, humility, and patience every day.'

'Betsy helped me coordinate and match clothing as a child. It was important to me to know how to dress appropriately as a young, black man. Even though I am visually impaired, I have always received compliments on my attire. These lessons carry on with me today, as a 78-year-old man (Straham's brother, Arthur Ray Lambert)

I met Bessie Straham when I was a student at Northern High School in Flint, Michigan. There was only a handful of black teachers on the faculty. Mrs. Straham stood out from the crowd. She was always immaculately attired and projected a caring, friendly, but businesslike demeanor. (A former student)

Searching for New Words

by Rita Gitik

For in much wisdom is much grief. 

Selling Memories: Poems
and Tales for my
Grandchildren When 
They Grow Up
Can the grief be cast away, 

Shed like an old skin,

Thrown in the garbage can?

Can I live a day without grief

Thinking of you, 

Longing to be with you, 

Waiting to be in your arms?

Can love overpower grief

And leave only wisdom in my heart, 

Cool, calm, calculated wisdom,

Stiff upper lip?

Careful words,

Rehearsed smiles,

Meticulously set table, 

Perfect medium rare steak...

Will you want me like that?

Will you love me like that?

Is that the prescription

For wisdom without grief?

"Don't do anything, I wouldn't do..."

But you are a weathered oak

And I am a wild flower

Searching for new words.

New words for love,

New words or daydreaming,

New words for longing,

Words for being again in your arms. 

Boston Waltz

by Rita Gitik

Red gown.

White shawl.

Dancing shoes.

Loud music.

Dark stage.

Boston Waltz.

I am dancing alone, again, 

Handsome Devil.

Dancing Boston Waltz on broken legs. 

I need you to dance with me.

I need you to fight for me.

I need to close your eyes and need me.

All I have is a red gown, a white shawl.

A dark stage, loud music, 

Dancing shoes and broken legs. 

I am on stage tonight and every night. 

I need you now, but I cannot close my eyes.

My broken legs hurt in high heeled shoes. 

I am giving a Master Class,

A Master Class in Boston Saltz. 

On broken legs. 

A Waltz.

Boston Waltz. 

Waltz without you.

MANA's BLACK LIT ALIVE! Podcast Features Excerpts from "Granddaddy" and "Autism—Poetic Pride"

MANA's BLACK LIT ALIVE! podcast is a special segment on literature produced by African American writers from the 18th century and beyond.

This podcast features excerpts from the book, Granddaddy, by Cavis Adams. (Go HERE to read an interview with Cavis Adams on our blog.)  

Granddaddy is the story of the hopes of an African American couple from the South who move to Minneapolis, and their young son, who experiences a "spiritual rebirth" after visiting his grandfather in Birmingham, Alabama. 

His grandfather is granted a lifetime of memories after fearing he would become just a mere memory to his family. 

Also featured are poems from the book, Autism—Poetic Pride: A Collection of Poetry by Queen Anya Rutz. The poems recited are:

• "Everyday People"

• "Welcome, Goddess Aurora"

• "Light Over The Rainbow"

Enjoy MANA's DR C reading excerpts from Granddaddy and Autism—Poetic Pride: A Collection of Poetry:

Go HERE to visit the webpage for Granddaddy for more information on the book. 

Go HERE to visit the webpage for Autism—Poetic Pride: A Collection of Poetry for more information on the book

MANA's BLACK LIT ALIVE! Podcast Featuring Black Authors on Parenting Children

MANA's Black Lit Alive! podcast is a special segment on literature produced by African American writers from the 18th century and beyond.

This is a different type of podcast that features excerpts from books written by contemporary black authors about parenting. MANA's DR C reads excerpts from the books:

Where Is Adam? Understanding a Father's Role by Jeff Wheeler. This book is about the impact of fatherhood and is the result of years of Wheeler's experience  working with young people who do not have the support of a father. 

Parents Imparting Discipline & Heritage by Dr. Fairy C. Hayes-Scott and
Dr. Nora Martin. This book focuses on the challenges parents face with their children and the methods that parents use to solve these issues.

Enjoy the latest Black Lit Alive! podcast:

To preview Where is Adam? Understanding a Father's Role by Jeff Wheeler, go HERE to the book's webpage on

Where's Adam? Understanding
a Father's Role

To preview Parents Imparting Discipline & Heritage by Dr. Fairy C. Hayes-Scott and Dr. Nora Martin, go HERE to the book's webpage on

MANA's BLACK LIT ALIVE! Podcast Featuring Excerpts from "Sweet Ache: Poetry for the Soul" By Elesia K. Powell

Elesia K. Powell, poet
MANA's Black Lit Alive! is a special segment on literature produced by African-American writers from the 18th century and beyond. This podcast features excerpts from Sweet Ache: Poetry for the Soul by Elesia K. Powell, MANA's 2014 Passion for Poetry Poet Contest winner. 

Sweet Ache: Poetry for the Soul is a collection of poems that reflects a combination of Jamaican and American heritage. There is an undercurrent rhythm and beat in her work that engages a reader. Although the subject matter of the poems varies, the spirit of the works consistently emanates throughout every poem.

Enjoy the podcast as MANA's DR C reads the poems:

• "Sweet Ache"

• "Love Poem"

• "Black As"

• "Where I Am the Center of the Universe"

• "Like New Money"

To learn more about Elesia K. Powell, go HERE to read the blog post of a Question-and-Answer interview on the MANA Sunriser. Also, Ms. Powell also gave a lecture at Mott Community College in Flint, Michigan. Go HERE to listen to a recording of her lecture. Ms. Powell's recitation of her poem, "Sacrifice/For the Fallen—and those that die tomorrow" comes 17 minutes and 7 seconds (17:07) into her lecture. 

To preview 
Sweet Ache: Poetry for the Soul, go to the book's webpage on 

Black History Month: Giving A Voice To Black and Marginalized Writers

Dr. Fairy Hayes-Scott
Owner, Robbie Dean Press,
I grew up watching Beulah, Amos and Andy, The Nat King Cole Show, I Spy, and Julia. The first television program's main character was an African-American cook; the second program mentioned contained less than mature-acting African-American characters; the third program had a talented African American whose show could not garner a single sponsor. The 4th and 5th programs were the only ones with African-American major characters. 

So, it was not until the mid-60s that many African-American children saw TV programs with characters that looked like them and showed characters who were in professions they may wish to pursue. At least I know this applied to me.

"Didn't black folks do anything?"

Then, to add to my experience growing up, there were no books that had any mention about African-American poets, writers, inventors, or educators. There was only one picture and one paragraph in a thick history book that showed children slaves, who "happily played" as the book had written. 

I recalled returning home from school lamenting, "Mommy, didn't black folks do anything??" She assured me they did. She took me to a local library where I found a book that had pictures and biographies of African Americans like George Washington Carver, Lena Horne, Louis Armstrong, Hank Aaron, to name a few.

Wow! I was enlightened. If it had not been for that book, my ignorance would have remained if I had depended on the books provided in school. 

MANA's BLACK LIT ALIVE! Podcast Featuring Excerpts from "A Soldier's Poetic Response: A Slice of His Life" By Major Adrian D. Massey

U.S. Army Captain
Adrian Massey,
MANA's Black Lit Alive! podcast is a special segment on literature produced 
by African American writers from the 18th century and beyond. 

This podcast features excerpts from A Soldier's Poetic Response: A Slice of His Life by U.S. Army Major Adrian D. Massey, Retired. 

A native of Detroit, Michigan, Major Massey grew up in Wayne and Inkster, Michigan, and graduated from Wayne Memorial High School and Eastern Michigan University. 

Massey did two tours in Iraq and wrote the majority of the poetry in this book during his first deployment. A Soldier's Poetic Response: A Slice of His Life is a fine representation of the new poetry of the 21st century—bold, unpatterned, and full of provocative messages. 

Enjoy the podcast as MANA's DR C reads: 

• "Soldier's Testimonial"

• "Imagination"

• "The Mind"

• "Song of Myself"

Go here to visit the webpage for A Soldier's Poetic Response: A Slice of His Life for more information on the book. 

MANA's BLACK LIT ALIVE! Podcast Featuring Excerpts from "Simply: A Collection of Poetry" By Jessyca Mathews

MANA's BLACK LIT ALIVE! podcast is a special segment on literature produced by African American writers. 

While previous podcasts focused on writers in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, this podcast features the work of contemporary poet and author, Jessyca Mathews, the 2013 MANA Passion for Poetry winner. (Go here to read an interview with Mathews posted on our blog.)

Mathews is a high school English teacher in Flint, Michigan. In addition to Simply: A Collection of Poetry, Mathews wrote 318: A Chubby Chick's Tales of Weight LossMathews co-wrote the play Appointments: A Flint Water Crisis Account to bring community and national attention to Flint's water crisis. 

Mathews was selected by the Michigan Department of Education as a  2019-2020 Regional Teacher of the Year and was a finalist for Michigan Teacher of the Year in 2019-2020.

Enjoy MANA’s DR C reading of selected poems from Simply: A Collection of Poetry:

• In Front of the Church

• Loneliness

• Prison Letter 

• Grandpa's Michigan Jacket

• No Regrets

• Follow along with DR C as she recites Mathews' poems:

Before You Publish Your Book, Get Our Free Checklist!

Now, more than ever before, authors have a variety of publishing opportunities. And, due to advances in communications technology, authors can now get their works published, promoted, and distributed much easier than they could even a decade ago. 

While writing is an important aspect to book publishing, it's only one part of the publishing process. And, authors sometimes fail to realize this key fact. 

Without a doubt, if you plan to publish a book, you'll certainly have your work cut out for your once you finish your manuscript. But, the work is just beginning, and very little of that work will involve further writing (although an editor may see the need of rewriting parts of your manuscript). 

Being successful in publishing requires authors to not only know about how to write a compelling book, but other aspects such as knowing how to edit and proofread the manuscript, and how to price the book or knowing how to hire professionals to provide those services. 

The book publishing process can get frustrating at times, especially if you're a first-time author. But, don't fret, (MANA) is here to help you!

Black and Marginalized Writers: MANA Will Help You Get Your Voice Heard!

Photo by Gordon Johnson
from Pixabay.
Writing gives voice to our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and unlocks our creative potential. Many voices, however, have been marginalized whether by society, individuals, personal trauma, or by other ways. 

Nonetheless, many have not given up or given in to the pressures that come with self-expression. And, more importantly, these writers let their voices be heard among—or even rise above—the crowd. How did they do this? They did it by telling their own stories. 

Stories are a part of our daily lives. If you think about it, not a day goes by when we do not hear, read, or tell a story. Stories connect us and shape our view of the world. Stories tell others who we were in the past, who we are now, and who we want to be in the future. 

One person whose voice has risen dramatically in recent weeks is Amanda Gorman, the National Youth Poet Laureate, who recited her poem, "The Hill We Climb" at the inauguration of U.S. President Joseph Biden. 

While Gorman received critical acclaim for the delivery of her inauguration poem, it took years for her to find her voice. Gorman told The Guardian, a story about when she was in kindergarten, she was diagnosed with an auditory disorder that resulted in her having a speech impediment. When she was in the third grade, Gorman said a teacher introduced her to poetry, and it was through writing and reciting poetry that she found her voice. 

Everyone has a story to tell about their own experiences or about someone else's experience. Sometimes, we find ourselves talking more about other people's stories because we do not like telling the details of our own stories