1. Thank you to ever so lovely DDFS alumni (who happen to be sisters!) Aiysah Shah Idil & Raidah Shah Idil for sharing this wonderful event by the Islamic Museum of Australia event honoring contemporary Australian Muslim Artist. They each have a poem in this show!

    For more info regarding this exhibit click here!

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    We are so excited to launch a new feature - #GrowFierce interviews with our outstanding and bright course alumni! Today launches with the vibrant Candice Iloh.


    1. Who are you… in your own words?

    Whoo! What a loaded, crazy, intense question. Back in high school I once experienced a pretty rough mental breakdown when we were assigned personal essays answering this very question. We were asked to answer this question without mentioning who we belong to or things we do. I didn’t know where to start. Nearly 15 years later I totally get it. The assignment, that is (haha.)

    Now that I’m done stalling – in a nutshell, Candice is a butterfly. An ever-evolving butterfly who is daily discovering who she really is, what she really wants, what she likes and cares to offer this world… unearthing what all of that really is without the burden of appeasing her father and the pressure of appearing “good” and “whole” and “noble” to the world. I love words. I love all kinds of art. I care most about young black youth and the freedom to be myself and create, freely.
     
    Does that answer the question?
     
    2. Who is your favorite author? 

    This changes somewhat often depending on where I am in life or what books I am reading.  Plus, I don’t think I have ‘favorites’ per say. More like authors that resonate. I read A LOT so I’ll give you the current ten – yes, ten, ha! As follows: Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, Octavia Butler, Richard Wright, Jason Reynolds (my mentor), Audre Lorde, Hadaiyah Bey, Charles Bukowski, Saeed Jones, Patricia Smith, and Jasmyn Ward.
     
    3. What words of wisdom would you give your younger self? Candice, stop trying to please. Explore yourself. Forget the world sometimes and explore.

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    4. What did you learn about yourself through the DDFS course?

    I learned that I don’t carry pain in the same places that many women carry it. My pain, hurt, and warmth is in strange crevices that I often times downplay. I also was reminded how the vast the world of my writing could be. There is SO much to write about and SO much encased in this body and mind. I truly have been sleeping on myself.
     
    5. Do you remember the first thing you ever wrote?
     

    Not really. I can remember the first poem I seriously wrote though. Sophomore year. In a friend’s dorm room. We were studying for an accounting exam and I was about to lose my damn mind. My friend was a poet and she suggested I try writing a poem to get whatever the frustration was out. Sometimes I feel like that was the night I truly fell in love with poems. But I started writing around age 11. Except I didn’t know what I was doing was writing. Strange, right?

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    6. How will your writing be apart of your life story?
     
    Aside from my future children, words are the legacy I hope to leave to this world. It’s one of the things I do best. My hope is to publish several collections of poems, flash fiction stories, essays, and nonfiction on my family. I will always write.
     
    Learn more about Candice here:
     
    http://www.becomher.tumblr.com
    http://www.twopensandlint.com/candiceiloh
    http://www.facebook.com/Candice.Danielle.Life
    https://twitter.com/BecomHer

  3. Upstate Fall - glorious! The Tibetan Buddhist Monastery is in Woodstock, NY for all of you beautiful omstars.

  4. Meet the warm, enthusiastic + deeply in tune Shalay Kimberly! She joined the #GrowFierce team as Social Media Curator and will be combing the interweb for resources, quotes, exercises, opportunities articles and stories that inspire healing, transformation and deep creativity - especially for women.
Shalay Kimberly is a believer in the healing power of self expression, and is continually growing in her own voice as a writer, poet, and aspiring cultural anthropologist. She is inspired by her passion for women’s mental health, community empowerment, safe space to share our stories, and the relationship between art and activism. With roots that extend from the expansive beauty of the southwest where she was born to the wholesome grit of the midwest where she was raised Shalay sees the world from a unique cross cultural perspective. It is this perspective along with the works of Pearl Cleage, Jessica Caremoore, and Toni Morrison that have and will continue to guide Shalay as she weaves music, art, and literature into the tapestry of her life that will one day serve as a living breathing testimony that you can, each day rewrite your story.

    Meet the warm, enthusiastic + deeply in tune Shalay Kimberly! She joined the #GrowFierce team as Social Media Curator and will be combing the interweb for resources, quotes, exercises, opportunities articles and stories that inspire healing, transformation and deep creativity - especially for women.

    Shalay Kimberly is a believer in the healing power of self expression, and is continually growing in her own voice as a writer, poet, and aspiring cultural anthropologist. She is inspired by her passion for women’s mental health, community empowerment, safe space to share our stories, and the relationship between art and activism. With roots that extend from the expansive beauty of the southwest where she was born to the wholesome grit of the midwest where she was raised Shalay sees the world from a unique cross cultural perspective. It is this perspective along with the works of Pearl Cleage, Jessica Caremoore, and Toni Morrison that have and will continue to guide Shalay as she weaves music, art, and literature into the tapestry of her life that will one day serve as a living breathing testimony that you can, each day rewrite your story.

  5. On a day when the rain snuck it’s way inside my heart and miscommunication was the name of the game, I found such comfort and surprise in these wonderful 6 word memoirs students wrote today at Bronx Academy of Letters. May they enlighten you, too:

    "The most heartbreaking things are free."
    - Janee, student 6 word memoir

    "Feeling alone but surrounded by people."
    - Alice, student 6 word memoir

    "Not selfish, just really into myself."
    - Megan, student 6 word memoir

    "Tantrum on an unknown emotional train."
    - Tianna, student 6 word memoir

    "Interestingly, extraordinarily & beautifully f*cked up."
    - Vanessa, student 6 word memoir

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