LaDonna Letitia: A New Author’s Perspective on Her First Work
Spady Cultural Heritage Museum
Published: Delray Beach, Fla. – August 5, 2021
LaDonna Letitia: A New Author’s prospective on her first work
November 17, 2022
- Time: 6pm – 8pm
170 NW Fifth Avenue
Delray Beach, FL 33437
On Thursday, November 17, 2022, newly minted author, LaDonna Letitia, will read excerpts from her book, “The Black Pen.” LaDonna is a previous employee of the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum, having worked for almost two years, assisting with event management and program development. In that role, she worked with several published authors, who fed a desire she had to see her own name on a book cover one day
Join us at the Spady Museum at 6 p.m. for an evening of celebration, as we welcome back one of Delray Beach’s own to read from her first book.
Q: What inspired you to write this book?
A: Three things inspired me to write this book:
1. I wanted to be a published author. The idea of writing a book is terrifying to me ,and I wanted to go through the process with something that was more comfortable. I’ve been writing poetry since the third grade, so poetry has always been with me. My mother is a Language Arts professor. She’s also a poet. The first book she had me read was a Maya Angelou poem; she had me memorize “Phenomenal Woman.” During and following the pandemic, as I was considering my next move, I felt like it was a “now or never” moment. I reached out Michelle Lawrence, a publisher I met during my time with the Spady Museum, but ultimately, I decided to self-publish, and recruited an artist, Edward Stinson, and Michelle Lawrence’s son, to design the cover artwork. After the art was done, Michelle and Edward decided to give me a partial scholarship to help with publishing. I had old poems mixed with new poems, and I remixed and revamped other poems.
2. The Black Pen is a tribute to black writers. This was birthed out of being at the Spady Museum as the guest services associate. Being exposed to so many amazing writers through the events, it was inspiring to be in that space. One writer I bonded with in a creative space, and I was responsible for his book signing at the museum. In doing that, I became inspired to write in a new way, and I wanted to pay homage to him and the other writers I met over the years there – black writers, in particular. When you’re writing about the black experience, the weight of the words you’re sharing is different.
3. Until I had my son, Corban, who I dedicated my book to, I didn’t wear my blackness the same way. I attended a charter school and my black classmates’ experience was different from me. I didn’t belong in that world. I was comfortable being the “black” friend to my white friends, in part because I didn’t fit in with the other black kids. I talked differently; I was the “Oreo.” I was a proud token black girl. I was unique. Because of my skin tone, I was the dark, token black girl. Then, I was exposed heavily to my black experience when I became a single, pregnant, black woman, experiencing the heaviness of what that meant. I became a statistic. Through the help I received from social services during that time, I became part of the nonprofit world that provided services to parts of the black community, who were going through similar experiences to mine. Following that, I began working at the Spady Museum, a black museum that was closely tied to my family. That’s when I began to feel black empowerment, loving my dark skin, which was different than my experience as a child. A lot of the poems were written from a place of pride. All of it came together because I fell in love with myself as a black woman.
Q: How do I want people to use this book?
A: It is a book of poems about black life, black love, black excitement ,and although it may not be the “best poetry book on the shelf,” it does offer a perspective. It does get heavy. Because part of being black in America is the strife of being black. We can take really horrible things and turn them into art, into life. It’s a cause for celebration. I start the book off with Black Strife – police brutality, oppression and the weight of blackness – because I want the rest of the book to be about things to be celebrated – our culture, our heritage, our faith, the way that we love. The book is broken into four sections: Black Strife, Black Faith, Black Love and Black Life. It’s just a book that I hope non-POC can read and really appreciate our experiences as a collective, and then I want us to read it and see ourselves in it. From our tears and pain to our laughter and the sway of our hips and our rhythm, we are cause for celebration.
Q: Any advice to aspiring writers?
A: Do it. I have a friend, D. Rashad Battle, who is a self-published novelist. I was heavily involved in his first published work, Tattooed Teardrops. He would take to Facebook and share an excerpt, asking for our feedback. He got the community involved in his writing process. We would comment on the pieces and being a part of his process was so inspiring. We went to school together. His advice to me was “just do it.” Sit down, write. I was blessed to know a couple of publishers, Amazon offers free publishing, and so does Google. But do your homework, go talk to people. You have to consider what you’re trying to get out of it. For me, it wasn’t about getting my name and face out there. I just wanted to be published. To say to myself, “girl, you did it. Now, do it again. Now, do it again.” If you are an aspiring author, then write ,and having a great line of support doesn’t hurt.