Poet writes 1st book, culmination of 2 decades in verse

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WEST ORANGE, NJ — Tanya Manning-Yarde published her first book of poetry last fall, a project that was almost 20 years in the making. The writer had been stockpiling her work from her undergrad and graduate school days, in addition to more recent work and her book, “Every Watering Word,” published by Wasteland Press, is a culmination of the verse she has written over time.

Manning-Yarde, who has lived in West Orange for four years, used her upbringing as inspiration for the book, highlighting the religious and musical influences that were a part of her life.

“A lot of my religious upbringing is in it,” Manning-Yarde said in a March 23 phone interview with the West Orange Chronicle. “I grew up with jazz music and Christianity, so it’s devoted to those experiences.”

Some of the jazz musicians she looked to for inspiration were John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk.

But Manning-Yarde did not look only to musicians for inspiration. She reads almost any genre.

“Screenplays tell stories frame by frame,” Manning-Yarde said. “I like Michael Crichton and Christopher Nolan; it really shows how to tell a story and use point of view and time. I also read graphic novels, like ‘Watchmen’ and the ‘Avengers’ and anything Marvel, which also helps.”

Manning-Yarde also draws inspiration from poets Ntozake Shange, Pablo Neruda and Toni Morrison, in addition to the great amount of other reading material on her bookshelf.

In one of the book’s poems, “Culture is Torture,” Manning-Yarde makes reference to Shange by name: “She wishes feeling as when making happy playing clap-clap with Ntozake and Tashi, teeth and legs dusty from running in circles.”

Having so many influences is helpful for Manning-Yarde, because poetry isn’t the only form in which she writes. Her personal blog features book and movie reviews, essays, and posts about education. She says she hasn’t figured out exactly how she wants to tie her blog into her other work, though.

“I have not yet found my perfect voice,” Manning-Yarde said. “I used the blog for social issues and women’s activism, and it morphed into personal writing. I’ve also done food writing, and for National Poetry Month in April I’ve done 30 poems in 30 days. I don’t know which world I want to represent, I haven’t figured it out.”

The variety of writing Manning-Yarde exhibits reflects the diverse professional background she has — a former high school English and creative writing teacher, she has also worked as a copy editor and writer at Bronze Magazine. She is now a freelance blogger for the Montclair Film Festival and for her own website, www.tmychronicles.wordpress.com. All those jobs have influenced her writing now, according to Manning-Yarde.

“I always had a love of writing, so serving (students) was one of the reasons I went into that,” she said. Manning-Yarde taught ninth- and 11th-grade English, as well as creative writing. “I tried to teach fundamentals, and trying to find their voices. We would workshop in smaller groups so mine wasn’t the only opinion they were hearing, to make writing strong.”

That collaboration has carried over to her own work as well — Manning-Yarde had her first reading March 24, with fellow poets Carla Cherry and Najeli Soul in Montclair. Public reading is almost like a performance, and they held rehearsals to practice reading in front of an audience.

“She (Cherry) and I are good presenters, we know how to strike syllables,” Manning-Yarde said. “We had a rehearsal, because we needed to make them perfect from the audience. We read with feeling so it comes alive, and learn how to be a better performer going forward.”

“Every Watering Word” is available for purchase on Amazon and www.books123.org, as well as at Barnes and Noble.

Photos Courtesy of Tanya Manning-Yarde

One Response to "Poet writes 1st book, culmination of 2 decades in verse"

  1. Carla Cherry   April 1, 2018 at 10:54 am

    Great piece about an amazing, highly talented woman. I am honored to be her friend!