National Poetry Month’s Feature: Poet Mildred M. Stokes
Poet’s Bio: Mildred M. Stokes is author of two published works: Romancing the Beautiful Divine, A Joy Embrace Story Devotional—a book of Inspirational descriptions and in part, Autobiography. Another is I Can Hear You Better With My Glasses On! — her first full book of poetry.
Philosophy-wise for this dedicated author: writing is a catharsis—a comfort and investment of labor which focuses on voicing openly and boldly stories, even whispers—that must be spoken and heard.
Her literary affiliations include Black Writers’ Guild of Maryland, Life Journeys Writers Guild, and Short Story Book Club. Mildred completed master’s programs at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and at Towson University. In addition, Mildred is a Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist who advocates for full body wellness and lifestyle renewal.
- Books: Amazon.com, Barnes and Nobles.com, and Outskirts Press.com
Deliah Lawrence: What inspired you to be a poet?
Mildred M. Stokes: I believe what did it for me were the myriad of encounters faced, which showed me there was a greater pleasure in life to pursue. I learned it was more compelling to explore deeper meaning and appreciation for life than to settle into a life of limiting, love-restrictive relationships. I had to realize unapologetically that my life was gifted to me to live in purpose. And my responsibility was to discover and embrace opportunities to tap into creating conversations that amused—and those that mattered.
It didn’t happen overnight, this discovery. In fact, it’s taken a good amount of time and testing of the waters, so to speak, to see how the diversity of poetic expression can be so incredibly liberating. Writing can open you to what’s possible, to what may be dormant within, hidden away, waiting to be discovered. And if you are still to hear and listen long enough, you come to know there is something you must say in your own way, out loud.
Whether working through sketches of prose, poetry, inspiring psalmists, or meditations in the Word, hard struggles come out and onto smooth places. These then reward with a brighter light to gift others, in a show of appreciation with thanksgiving. The past is given an eviction notice, and cannot loiter upon nor dictate the path of my future.
DL: Do you have any reflections about life in general?
MMS: I seek gratitude and have come to understand that humility and doing what is right to do in a timely Fashion, can take you far. Interestingly, as I allow myself to explore writing in children’s genre, along with poetry and prose for youth and adult audiences more discovery of self is manifested.
It is always possible to restore and to heal our deepest despair, a betrayal, or self-imposed ruin—when we willingly choose, letting go! It does the heart and our health good to embrace kindness, patience, and forgiveness as much as is possible to do so. Wisdom allows the courage to escort you along that continuum.
The inevitability of change expands learning to appreciate the newness others bring to the table. It is wise to gain understanding that we have more in common – we are more alike — than we are different. We need one another! And that was God-intended. We are relational beings, never shaped or fashioned to exist in isolation and abandonment.
DL: If you were hosting a dinner party, which three poets would be your dream guests and why?
MMS: I would select the following poets to dine with:
1. The Highly Esteem Poet Laureate: Maya Angelou
Her brilliance and poise. Her philosophical depth of exploring the complexities of our societal behaviors when dealing with matters of the heart. Also, how our thoughts, ambitions, and responses influence our relationship with ourselves, family groups, and unalike others. Her teachings that stretch even beyond her beloved poetic renderings as a teaching, university professional, and a blessed “Messenger” for all times—to us all!
2. The Esteemed and Highly Accomplished: Nikki Giovanni
Her consistent nationalist views and ponderings of the historical and disproportionality of all interpretations of wealth associated with our national tapestry of racial injustices. Her perception of correcting the distorted narratives that prevail in the culture at home and abroad. Also, to hear her recite and expound upon select spoken word poems widely known as her signature works.
3. The Celebrated Harlem Renaissance Thought Leader: Langston Hughes
His history/sojourn; his struggles as a “passed around child” — described as existing within a “left-lonesome feeling”. His conviction and courage to speak out against racial injustices and his determination to speak out loud—no matter the cost, be it in the segregated south or up north.
DL: What tips would you give to aspiring poets?
MMS: Write what your heart speaks! Write from within, unshackled! Write boldly beyond the boundaries of your imagination or barriers that others throw in your path to discourage your unique creativity and free spirit. Remain curious! Question! Open your heart and hands to grasp truths that really are truth—and are longed for.
Be of good courage and be fierce in your declaration of who you are and the heights you are willing to scale. Nurture your mindset to tell stories, write poems and prose which no one else – but you – would have the audacity or acumen to uncover them the way you will.
Be in every moment of expression no matter the challenge. Know and believe you will be rewarded—if you don’t give out, give in, or give up! Own up to your successes and failures; own what belongs to you, regardless. Share when you need to; know who loves you and is trustworthy. For that one will honor your talents and generosity with intentionality! And more than likely will defend and protect your good name.
DL: In celebration of National Poetry Month, can you share with us a few of your poems?
MMS: Sure, I would like to share the following two poems from my poetry book: I Can Hear You Better With My Glasses On!
What is it? I mused.
Could it possibly be sooo, simple
In everything … always?
What if it answered, YES? What if, NO?
In every situation.
Whether great or small,
This hope thing called
Courage is …. Real!!
Oh, so very real…
Live in it!!
OUT OF THE BOX
Fears, released away
along with everything else
let go from you.
Fear – disembodied, powerless.
No longer compromised with the
paralysis of accompanying discontent,
disapprovals of missteps made,
unforgiven, seemingly without delay.
Love not there before, now is
embraced in all its splendor!
Private spaces, heretofore reserved
sacred for fear to rule, no longer hold you—
DL: Thanks so much for being here with us today. I know my readers will enjoy getting to know you and your work.
MMS: Thank you again for the opportunity!