JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
K.L. Belvin, author of A Man in Transition
A Man in Transition is a book of poems that reflect where my mind and soul were during a different time in my life compared to where it is now. With my life changing for the better, it was time to show the world what the inside of man looks like when he looks to become a better person. Some poems are relatively new and I wrote some poems a while ago. The book is divided by chapters that offer a glimpse in particular categories: Spiritual, Romance, Being A Parent, Life as an Educator, Worldly observations and finally a look at my sexually-charged past.
Some may question the inclusion of erotic poems. For there to be a true transformation, there has to be a starting point and end point. This book offers that but in reverse. The erotic poems reflect my past. Being a book of poems and stories, the feel of the book is one of redemption, expression of feelings and life questions.
Everyone who reads A Man in Transition can take a moment to see themselves in it. This book was written not only for entertainment, but for counsel, conviction and concern. These are many of the same qualities people come to the bible for. I’m not saying that A Man in Transition should stand up to the bible. Since the belief of the Lord is at the heart of what I write, you’ll see the commonalities.
Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the idea and inspiration to write A Man in Transition?
K.L. Belvin: After giving my life to the Lord and becoming a born again Christian, my wife and I sat down and talked about me becoming a writer. We figured the world would like my story ideas and poetry. Since I had so many poems and had been working on a compilation of all my erotic poems and stories, my wife and I decided to change my flow of writing to one that shows my transition. Hence the name of this book. Another influence on creating my book was the students I teach. They constantly reminded me I talk to them about being anything they choose. Well, they turned the tables and asked me why I hadn’t published my work.
With these two factors, I believed it was time to show the world my talents and tell my story. There is one other factor to add to my motivation to put my work out; it was the author Mary B. Morrison. Ms. Morrison is an Essence and New York Times best seller of Erotic and Romantic fiction. She heard me on a blog talk radio show discussing the story of how my wife, then my girl friend, overcame my whorish behavior and getting caught cheating three times to becoming Born Again and loving my wife with my life. She asked me to write my story which she placed in her novel that was published in July 2008 entitled “Who’s Loving You”. My words are there on page 246. I was blown away and touched with the idea that someone who writes for a living wanted my story in her book. It was truly an honor, and it sent a message I have a future in this business. This moved me to get my book published.
JP: Why did you choose poetry as a means to communicate your life’s journey?
KL: I chose poetry because I wanted to dip my toe in the pool of being a writer. Since I had so many poems saved and had small success in doing erotic poems online and on stage, I thought poetry would give me an idea of whether I could be accepted and taken seriously as a writer.
Since writing is my weakest area of my personal and professional self, I knew I was going to have to lean on the Lord and learn as I go along. I began writing more and more and started to shape my poetry to fit the changes I made in my life. The book began to take shape as my learning grew greater and greater.
I wasn’t sure if poetry would be acceptable. Each book I read said it wasn’t a great idea to consider poetry, and I grew more motivated. I put a few poems in various places online and the response was positive so my motivation grew steadily.
I truly believe my poetry book is not a usual one since it tells my story and reads differently. I feel the Lord has touched my pen when putting this book together. It has been successful enough to open up other literary doors that would normally be closed to a writer with a limited background.
JP: Who are the poets that shaped your style? What were you able to take from them that made your poetry stronger?
KL: At first there were no poets who I would say I patterned myself after or who affected how I read my work. I enjoyed some of the well known poets like Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, the Last Poets, Amari Baraka and Sonia Sanchez, but I didn’t read them exclusively. I had one or two pieces I might have liked from them and many others. However, I simply wrote what was on my heart in a way I thought made sense to me. I figured since I wasn’t the biggest poetry fan, if I can write in a clear manner and with feeling people would respond.
I have a formula I keep to and I am not even sure if it’s a particular style to begin with. I simply write with 2, 3 or 4 lines then a break. I don’t always rhyme. I am not classically trained it’s done much by feel. Nowadays, I have learned to listen to poets and read more from so many different poets and spoken word artist. I try to work on a slow rhythmic style with my words clearly heard. I don’t play with words in a slick slam style but more, as I like to say, “A Quiet Storm” style. I feel like my work is easy listening and filled with emotion. Since I pull my words from the emotional situations I feel or see each day, it is there I place my poetic flag.
Each time I watch or hear someone perform, I grow stronger in understanding how words can sound or be used. This has allowed me to grow steadily each time I perform. I am working on memorizing more of my work. If there has been a person that has a direct effect on my current poetic growth has been Brother Marc Lacy. I met him online and performed in a contest with him. When I met him in Tampa last June at the Black Writers Conference and Reunion, he was a humbled and focused brother. He was giving of himself and sat and took time to talk to a fellow poet. He seemed as if he could help me grow he would benefit. To be new and not have my book out for another week, Marc was right on point with his advice. I also had a chance to watch him sell his product.
Another brother I met in Tampa was Vincent Alexandria. We sat and shared stories with each other for what seemed like a few hours. He then took out his poetry book signed it and said â€˜This is for you brother. You are on your way as a writer.” WOW! We then were asked to host the poetry seminar, and here I am sitting and reading my work in front of literary professionals, writers and the like, listening to Vincent and I discuss creating poetry books. These two men let a definite mark on my growth as poet. I left Tampa knowing I could sell my words to others.
JP: What advice would you give to poet who want to publish their works?
KL: I would say this: fellow poets, understand this is not the golden ticket to wheel barrels of money. If you decide to go this route, understand the difficult road ahead and face it with open heart, mind and eyes. Don’t get discouraged easy. Take as many opportunities you can to get your work heard. Write as much as you can, and be able to clearly explain your motivation for each piece. Respect other poets, and share time with them. Listen to them to hear how some words can be crafted. Get professional material to learn the literary business. Understand many are not going to support poetry because it’s saturated with so many who write.
Finally, have faith in God. Pray often, and let your soul deliver messages through that inner voice we all have. Believe in your abilities to shape words. Remember fear is only an emotion not an action, so even when scared, do something positive.
JP: What’s next for K. L. Belvin?
KL: I contributed to the anthology The Soul of a Man. I am happy to see my attempt at Christian fiction was accepted. The book was released the 21st of June. This manuscript has 13 brothers and me writing about men’s triumphs over difficult situations through their belief in the Lord. It’s going to be a blast. I am also finishing up another Christian fiction story for another anthology coming out in November. It’s called Bended Knee. It’s going to be a very interesting read since there is only eight of us contributing to the manuscript. Again, I was happy to have my words accepted.
Each of these opportunities serves as motivation. After both of them, I am going to take some time to try to learn more about writing. I have my second book I want to work on its title is From Gigolo to Jesus. It’s my story which speaks on how a man goes from being a misogynist to a man of God. There is much I think mothers and young men need to know about change, and I pray to be the example for them.
I want to write with an understanding of what goes into quality non-fiction. I also have another poetry book I want collaborate on with other poets which will promote the romance of married folks. Just because you’re married you’re not dead. The poems with show what goes on in romantic marriages.
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