History Poetry Forgotten History Lost in History

You probably don’t know about Hettie Jones, a crusading Beat poet

You’ve heard of a Jack Kerouac, but have you ever heard of a Hettie Jones?

The Beat Literary Movement of the 1950s is coined for its explicit subject matter and bohemian lifestyle. Americans in the 1950’s lived in largely suburban towns and felt threatened by things like communism. Men went to work in suits and women stayed home to cook, clean, and tend to the children.

The rebel, beatnik, group of authors that made up the Beat Generation were iconoclastic. Much of their work explored and influenced American culture and politics in the post-war era. They experimented with form and structure while writing about sex, drugs, and religion. Traditional literary houses rejected them and looked down on them as a group as being defiant, untalented, and unprofessional. 

I think that their being unconventional was the whole point, though.

They were the antithesis of mainstream American life.

They wanted to publish anything that was deemed inappropriate by society. These people were tired of the routine, and frankly, felt beaten down by the conservative lifestyle that they were stuck in. They were highly controversial in that they were the antithesis of mainstream American life and writing. Many of their works of poetry and prose focused on shifts of consciousness and escaping “squareness.” The stereotype around the Beats is that they were not in favor of what they considered to be straight jobs. Instead, they lived together, packed into small and dirty apartments, sold drugs, had sex with each other, and committed crimes. They are also known for exploring homosexuality, which was a highly taboo topic in 1950’s America.

Though they set many precedents together, the Beats still succumbed to the blatant sexism of the time. Most, if not all, of the women involved in the Beat literary movement were overshadowed by their male counterparts for no particular reason other than gender. These women were just as intelligent and qualified to question society as the beatnik men who have become well-known poets and activists.

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One of the most iconic, and downplayed, female poets of that time who deserves righted acknowledgment is Hettie Jones. 

Hettie Jones published 23 books- and yet, we forgot her

Hettie Jones is most known for her marriage to the famous Beat Poet Amiri Baraka (formerly LeRoi Jones). Few people know that Hettie helped run Totem Press, one of the more important beat publishers, along with her husband. She went on to publish about 23 books, one being a memoir of her time spent with Amiri and the rest of the Beats titled, How I Became Hettie Jones (1990). She has also written for many prestigious journals, lectured writing across America, and began the literary magazine “Yugen.”

Hettie is one of my favorite poets, so I think that her writing deserved to be at the forefront of the Beat movement, right there with the boys who got so much praise for their work. 

Hettie’s writing is rooted in practical idealism. She left her family home in Long Island to go to college and to fully discover herself. When she graduated in 1955, she never turned back, and moved to New York City. She met Amiri while working at The Record Changer, a jazz magazine. He was a young, black poet with just as much intelligence and intensity as Hettie. They quickly fell in love and moved in together. They would go to poetry readings at cafes and bohemian bars, where they met many of the other Beat poets.

Hettie deserved to be at the forefront of the Beat movement.

When the pair founded their own magazine, they published the writings of many of the iconic beat players who could not find a home for their writing in the traditional sphere. Hettie was in charge of editing the works that were to be published in the magazine. It was here that she honed her craft and found power in the refined writing that makes her work stand out from the rest. 

By 1960, Hettie and Amiri had two children, were married, and lived in New York City. Being a biracial family, though, countless bigoted remarks were directed towards them regardless of the Beat scene. Hettie was on the receiving end of most of these cold stares and was able to see the world through the eyes of her husband and children. This affected her incredibly and eventually became a recurring theme in her writing.  

When Amiri became tightly involved with the Black Power movement, he was criticized for having a white wife. They divorced in 1968. Hettie thrived on her own though and made a living with her children while teaching and editing. Her separation from her husband also gave Hettie an outlet to speak up and finally publish works of her own. She has been quoted to say, “Without a him in the house, there was more space/time for her, and I tried to redefine the way a woman might use it.” 

To this day, Hettie’s writing is compassionate. She writes about her own experiences in a compelling manner while weaving in the issues that she cares about. Currently, Hettie lives in New York City, and is a writer and lecturer. In addition, she runs a writing workshop at the New York State Correctional Facility for Women where she recently published a volume of writing by incarcerated women.

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The Internet Poetry Books Pop Culture

These Instagram poets aren’t afraid to bring us the authenticity we need

Poetry often bridges a connection between one’s soul and words. It is a form of art, one which women of color are taking by storm on social media with their unique voices. These women are not only spreading universal art but are breaking barriers and spreading awareness with poetry as their weapon of choice.

I consider myself a poet as well and so I resonate with the words of other poets. They inspire me to not only resist injustice but appreciate the flaws and blessings I have within myself. Reading poetry allows me to have a deep connection with the author that goes beyond physicality. I read poetry to reflect on and empower myself.

In honor of the women of color on Instagram who are changing society by words and poetry, here are my top five poets I go to for art.

1. Pavana Reddy

Los Angeles-based writer and author of the book Rangoli, Pavana Reddy first used poetry as therapy to heal the wounds caused by the loss of her sister. Reddy initially began sharing her work anonymously under the handle @mazadohta – consisting of the words ‘Maza’ and ‘Dohta’ from her favorite book, “IQ84” by Haruki Murakami, from Reddy’s understanding the words together refer the relationship between the body and mind. After gaining confidence in her work, Reddy began associating her name with her account and work but decided not to change the Instagram handle as it was a part of her journey. Reddy has since inspired many with her resilient poetry.

“Poetry and writing, in general, have saved my life more than once. When you suffer a loss that sends you into this spiral of depression, it’s easy to cling onto anything that helps you feel better, even if it’s only temporary. When I first reached for writing as a way to deal with this hurricane of emotions I was holding inside, I was forced to face all of my fears head-on. And as long as I wanted to grow as a writer, I had to learn to keep being honest with myself,” she told Bastet Noir in an interview. 

2. Nikita Gill

Nikita Gill is a British-Indian writer and artist living in England. She first began sharing her work on Tumblr and then went on to gain a huge following on her social media handles including Instagram. Having lived in New Delhi at a young age, Gill’s poetry reflects on that experience and depicts her anger and vulnerability.

“There was so much anger inside me. Men would strip me bare with their eyes and comment on my body. My parents wouldn’t let me out past a certain point at night. You literally become caged, because your safety is constantly at risk. And you’re not allowed to be yourself,” Gill told the BookSeller.

Her core readership consists of women in their late teen onwards and Gill writes to these readers as if addressing her younger self.

3. Nayyirah Waheed

Not much is known about author Nayyirah Waheed. She has published two books of poetry, Salt and Nejma, and is active on social media, but she shares her poetry exclusively and nothing personal. The African American poet began writing at a young age which according to some outlets was as young as 11 years old.

Waheed’s work focuses on immigration, self-love and other social issues such as race and identity. She is most well known for her style of writing which makes no use of capitalization or punctuation to reflect her African ancestral tongue.

4. Jasmin Kaur

“Part of the reason why I write and why I choose to render myself very visible through my work, as a Punjabi-Sikh woman, is because I didn’t I grow up seeing women or girls like me ever in a public space,” Jasmine Kaur said.

Kaur is a writer, illustrator, spoken word artist and elementary school teacher. Her writing explores themes of feminism, womanhood, social justice, political oppression, and self-love. In an interview with Women’s March Global, Kaur said a lot of her work is influenced by the oppressive experiences that her people have suffered in her home of Punjab. Her writing reflects the experiences of oppression she has faced growing up as a girl in society.

5. Harpreet M. Dayal

After having lived her whole life in the UK, Harpreet Dayal moved to Canada with her husband. This inspired her to write Svādhyāya (Sanskrit for ‘study of the self’), a collection of poems and musings. She calls it her journey to a better understanding of oneself. Dayal is also the author of another book, a short story for children, and is a spoken word performer.

“I personally think the most important thing is to evoke emotion and really get the listeners to imagine and feel the words. I am learning to use language that will really evoke emotions in the listener,” she told Thirty West Publishing House.

While this list does not do justice to all the creatives out there, it consists of women who inspire me on a daily basis. I hope you find the same peace, love and inspiration you may need in reading these women’s art as I do. I challenge you to read more, learn more, and write more. Poetry is an art of healing for the soul and I invite you to indulge in it.

Tech Now + Beyond

The 12 best websites for writers in 2016

From secret diaries to handwritten letters, I have tried every old school medium to showcase my writing. Until I made it to a local and national newspaper before completely migrating to online platforms (for the sake of convenience and accessibility), I found online writing was rather difficult. Back then, I guess I just didn’t know there was such thing as these best websites and resources.

Writers, bookmark these sites!

1. Duotrope

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With $5 membership fee per month, you can find over 6000 markets for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry listed there; with complete features such as “search” (no confusion!) and “calendar” (discipline and scheduling!), also useful reports such as payment and response time from every journals or magazines.

While members can contribute in the reporting and track their submission, it’s important to note that Duotrope itself is neither a publisher nor a submission service.

2. Submishmash

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We all know Submittable is the top #1 submission manager, even regular email system can’t top that, however the “living catalog” of all contemporary literature and outlets is documented in Submishmash. With a single account, you can explore and organize all writing opportunities.

Submishmash is the listing platform that directs you to Submittable, the cloud-based submission manager.

3. The Review Review

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The name sums it all: a site about magazine/journal review.

To quote Becky Tuch, the founding editor of The Review Review: “What I found when I talked to my peers was that everyone wanted to be published in these magazines, but no one knew who published what, who edited which magazines, which ones were printed from universities and which were independent, or at the very least which magazines they liked and which they didn’t.”

4. [ places for writers ]

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Founded in 1997, [ places for writers ] aims to help writers write more and get published. Updated on a volunteer basis (currently by Barbara Fletcher), it announces submission calls and contests from any kinds of publications from around the world; be it small or large, online or print, independent or well-established. You can submit any calls on contests too by filling out this form.

5. New Pages

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New Pages provides news and guides to basically everything you need to know in writing and publishing industry: magazines, publishers, workshop, conferences, contests, creative writing programs, even bookstores.

Moreover, it also provides a space for readers to sign up for a reviewer position.

6. Poets & Writers

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Founded in 1970, Poets & Writers is a source of information, support, and guidance for creative writers (fiction, nonfiction, poetry) from magazines to journals, awards to MFA grants, conferences to residencies. Based in New York City and Los Angeles, Poets & Writers not only provides writing tools but also connects all writers and poets.

You can get yourself listed, or apply for internships, too.


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CLMP stands for Community of Literary Magazines and Publishers, (and to cite their statement) provides direct technical assistance to independent literary publishers and produces programs designed to bring the many communities our work touches together, including readers, writers, literary translators, booksellers, educators and librarians.

8. Aerogramme Writers’ Studio

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Like many other writing-related websites, Aerogramme Writers’ Studio (founded in 2013) publishes news and resources for emerging and established writers. What makes this website different is that it features lots of writing tips, from Teju Cole to Margaret Atwood to Zadie Smith and Friedrich Nietzche, and the submission calls usually come like a roundup for the next two-month period, like this.

9. Literary Hub

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Who isn’t familiar with Literary Hub, or LitHub for short, by the way? It has everything of contemporary literature: book-related news, special excerpts, editorial feature, etcetera. The pieces are entertaining, profound, and rich in content, making it as a trusted source for literary lover.

10. Who Pays Writers?

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One of the reasons why writers are still alive (besides being an immortal human, probably) is that writers are getting paid! Although that doesn’t always happen in all cases, the question remains the same: Who Pays Writers? Well, this anonymous, crowd-sourced list of which publications pay writers—and how much—will help us all figure things out.

Don’t forget to submit a rate!

11. Writers of Color

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Writers of Color is not quite a resource for writers (albeit the super helpful Twitter for job-seeking writers; 10/10 recommended to follow and RT) but more into “a clever reminder” for editors and employers to hire writers of color. Submit your name, topics to cover, portfolio, and boom! One more writer of color taking over the industry.

12. Reporthers

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A not-fun fun fact: women writers and reporters only make up a small percentage of bylines in the world of publications. ReportHer’s name is inspired by that. Meanwhile, this site is a place to find Q&As with editors, producers, reporters, multimedia storytellers and other interesting people of journalism. New media, new ways to story-tell.

Gender & Identity Life

5 types of poets you will definitely see at an open mic night

I love all things spoken word, so, so much. At a lot of open mics and slam competitions, you get to meet some amazing writers and performers and great people in general. With the snaps, the “Don’t be nice, be nasty!” cheers, and the yelling. I tend to feel very much at home whenever engaging in the spoken word community.

But poets are not all the same in this respect or in their craft. It is not easy to craft a written work of art.

And although there are various types of poets with their various forms of general makeup, there are five types that I always see at a poetry slam. Always! It’s a total given now.

So, without further ado, here are the five types of poets you’ll see at a poetry slam. Especially for those going out to one downtown or somewhere else in your area soon.

1. The Spiritual One

This person is always ready to perform a piece about finding your center, and a piece that has extraneous metaphors about Jesus, Buddha, or something about finding your center in this ever-evolving world we live in. You’ll usually tend to like these types of poets, because they’re pretty chill and is always grateful for your presence when you meet them, and willing to present to you some new ideals.

They say things like “Gift me with your name” and “I am blessed to meet you.” How sweet is that? Just be careful when they go first, because sometimes, they have some really long poems about how they or their mother are like a tree, and you never know when they will end sometimes. Not that the poem about the trees isn’t great, or that “time is nothing but a concept” in the art world, but the three minute time limit seems longer than usual.

2. The Self-Entitled One

Their poetry does not suck. In fact, their poems are excellent. They have the right amount of cultural references, while maintaining a nice fluid structure, and sometimes a pretty sweet rhyme scheme that is intricate and not simple. However, outside of their performing, they suck as people. They’re real competitive jerks. They believe that they are the absolute best poets in the room, thinking “Oh, how could God create such excellence that so few can understand?” about themselves.

They are way too critical of other poets’ work when they don’t have to be, they are too critical about mainstream content when they say things like “I could write something better,” and yet they still accomplish one of their goals of getting laid that night. Stop perpetuating the “people like assholes” trope, people!

3. The Green One

This type of poet is very new to spoken word poetry. They may be a little shaky when first getting onstage, but they’ll be sure to be welcomed with open arms. Or if they aren’t shaky, they’re the most excited person there, waiting for their name or their team’s name to be called. People are sure to shout “Ay, new shit!” (it’s a compliment, trust me) and “You got this, poet!”

And one of the three things might happen with this poet: (a) the poet struggles with the mic and musters through their well written piece, (b) the poet performs superbly with their well written piece making you all “Whoa, you’ve never done this before?”, (c) the poet starts off slow, and then as they hear other people snapping, they become more confident and finish the poem well.

4. The Theatrical One

I really like these kind of poets. They have a poem memorized at its fullest, like a monologue. It’s as if they remember where every I was dotted and every T was crossed when they first wrote it. Sometimes their poems have more than one voice in it they’re portraying by themselves, or one solo persona voice. They really find their niche here.

They have the largest gestures and often the most creative structures as to making the audience not know where their poem is going next in the three minutes they have (three minutes and ten seconds if they need a grace period). Poets aren’t allowed to use props in competition, but that’s actually not a problem for these poets. Their whole body, the various intonations of their voices, and their play of a poem are their props. They’re good to go!

5. The Sexy One

I’m not talking about in forms of looks. Although, sometimes, you may run into someone with a really nice, sleek skirt, or a sexy jacket. I’m talking about the content of their poems. Love, intimacy, and passion are their best pieces. Especially if they have the soft, sultry kind of voices you hear in chocolate commercials, or romantic film voice overs. If you ever need a Valentine for your sweetheart, they are your go-to. You may start to think “Please, please, go out with me.”

Or, even worse, you may whisper to your significant other, “Why don’t you describe me, my body, or my soul like this?” If they tell you that they have never gotten someone’s phone number after reading one of their poems, they are LYING. And totally accomplished getting laid if they wanted to do that, or even if the opportunity came to them.

I have competed in the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational with my university’s slam team for the past two years now, and I have been an active member of spoken word circles for almost four years now, and these kind of people never cease to exist. And it’s always exciting to get to know these people and more people to see what they’re all about in their poems.