A Q&A With Elesia K. Powell, MANA's 2014 Poetry Contest Winner

Elesia K. Powell, MANA's 2014 Poetry Contest Winner
Elesia K. Powell Is MANA's 2014 Passion For Poetry Poet Contest winner. For winning the Passion For Poetry Poet Contest, MANA published her work titled, Sweet Ache: Poetry of the Soul. 

Ms. Powell is an adjunct instructor of freshman composition at Mott Community College in Flint, Michigan. She graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a Master's degree in Composition/Rhetoric. Ms. Powell is also the winner of the prestigious University of Michigan Hopwood Award.  The program presents awards each year for creative non-fiction, fiction and poetry. 

Q. What drew you into writing poetry?  
A. Listening to the Last Poets, Nikki Giovanni and Dr. Maya Angelou, they were my inspirations. Poetry was a form of release as a teenager growing-up in the Bronx.  Essence Magazine published an opinion letter that I had written during that time, and I thought that was important, and I kept writing. However, it would be years before I had the courage to publish.   

Q. Who were your writing influences (writers, books, teachers)? 
A. I read often, and James Baldwin was one of my favorite authors. Eventually, I fell in love with others as well: Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor, Alice Walker, J. California Cooper, and Flannery O’Conner are a few.  

Q. When and where do you write?
A. I would like to be a morning writer. I think it would be great to start my days with a few intense hours of creativity, but I find that I often can’t begin to write until after 7 p.m. I have also noticed that once I begin a writing session it becomes difficult to stop, which means I’m up until the early hours of the morning writing. Right now, I’m trying to stay on target toward my goals of completing a collection of short stories, and two works of non-fiction. I don’t actually work on all of these projects at the same time, but they are all at various levels of completion, and I remind myself that I don’t have forever to work on them.  

Q. What is your new publication, Sweet Ache: Poetry of the Soul about?
A.  Sweet Ache: Poetry of the Soul is a compilation of free-verse poems that I have been writing for a number of years.  There are several themes, but I find that it is mostly about the angst and the glory of relationships. There are a few poems, which touch on political topics and scenes of everyday life.  The poetry in Sweet Ache is often vivid and concrete, but there are a few ethereal poems as well.

Q. Is this your first time entering a contest?
A. The MANA poetry contest is the second contest that I entered and won. Ten years ago as a non-traditional undergraduate student, I entered and won first place in the Avery Hopwood Prize.

Q. How many contests have you previously entered? 
A. I have entered three contests.

Q. Would you advise writers/poets to enter contests? 
A. Yes, Poets and Writers Magazine have a calendar of contests for all types of writing. 

Q. What do you want readers to get out of your poetry, Sweet Ache: Poetry of the Soul after reading it? 
A. I want to touch their hearts and hope that the poems are relatable in some way.

Q. What is your advice to new poets who may feel intimidated about having their work published?
A. I would tell them to overcome the fear of rejection and move forward with the publication of their work. This is easier  said than done, of course, but they still have to do it.  

Preview the book, Sweet Ache: Poetry of the Soul, here

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