By Kanisha Parks

If we’re going to talk about poetry, we have to go back—to Harlem, the 1920’s. Back to Langston Hughes and his weary blues, back to Claude McKay and his black man rage. I’m talking about rhyme and rhythm, music and tone; brokenness, hopelessness, sorrow, and pain. I’m talking about the Harlem Renaissance, which is (arguably) one the most essential movements of American poetry. In all honesty, if it weren’t for the Harlem Renaissance, I’m not sure I’d be a poet today.

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The Harlem Renaissance was, "A period of musical, literary, and cultural proliferation that began in New York's African-American community during the 1920's and early 1930's. I first learned about the movement in middle school and had the opportunity to study it more in-depth during college. I fell in love with these poets, their plight, and their determination to make their voices heard despite the deplorable conditions they were living in at the time. One of my favorite poems of the era is Countee Cullen’s “Incident:”

Once riding in old Baltimore, 
Heart-filled, head-filled with glee, 
I saw a Baltimorean 
Keep looking straight at me. 
Now I was eight and very small, 
And he was no whit bigger, 
And so I smiled, but he poked out 
His tongue, and called me, 'Nigger.' 
I saw the whole of Baltimore 
From May until December; 
Of all the things that happened there 
That's all that I remember. 

I remember feeling amazed at how in just a few short lines, I went from feeling hopeful to helpless, just like the writer and I thought to myself, “Wow. This is so incredibly moving.” His poetry didn’t tell me how to feel but it made me feel something. I learned so much from studying the poets and poems of the Harlem Renaissance, which cemented my love for poetry and its ability to inspire and promote change.

I wrote my first poem when I was ten years old and it was about how much I truly loved God. From then on, I started writing Christian poetry, which is simply poetry that explores various topics of Christianity—God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, faith, love, and anything discussed in the Bible. Most of my poems center around what it means to be a Christian and how to make it in this world, while some come from God’s perspective, revealing how much He truly loves and cares about us.

I write poems that can accompany you through every season of this faith journey that is the Christian life. Yet it’s amazing how, at a time when we have much more creative freedom than the Harlem Renaissance poets, it appears that poetry has “died.” Although this is a sentiment that I wholeheartedly disagree with, I must recognize the truth about the current state of poetry. And realistically, poetry has become one of those art forms that a lot of people appreciate—from a distance. It’s like, “Yeah, poetry sounds nice and all, but do I really want to buy an entire book of it? Nah."

And yes, I’ve heard and read many a negative remark about Christian poetry: that it ‘sucks,’ isn’t deep enough, doesn’t resonate with the average person, or it doesn’t sell. You’ll be hard pressed to find a book publisher interested in producing poetry at all, let alone Christian poetry. Some poets like me choose to self-publish, others just share their poems with family and friends.

So that leaves the question—why do I write Christian poetry?

Just like Harlem Renaissance poetry, Christian poetry has meaning and purpose. Similar to many of the Psalms and encouraging verses of the Bible, Christian poetry has the unique ability to lift you up out of your current circumstance and redirect your attentions upon God, so reading and writing poetry helps me keep my mind on God. I also write poetry because I know it pleases God, and it helps me see the good in any and every situation, like Paul suggests in Philippians 4:8:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

I know that no matter what I do in life, I will always write Christian poetry. It doesn’t matter to me if two people read them or two million, I know that these words can and will bless someone. And who knows, maybe there will be a movement of Christian poetry next and I’m here for it! 

Are you a poetry fan? What types of poetry do you read?

Kanisha is a Christian writer/author based in Augusta, GA. Other than CurlyNikki.com, she has also written for BlackNaps.organd Devozine, and has authored a book of poetry entitled, "Love Letters from the Master." Kanisha can be contacted for business inquiries at [email protected] 

By Nikki Igbo

By now, most, if not all have heard about the Equifax data breach in which hackers gained access to potentially 143 million consumers’ sensitive data including social security numbers and driver’s license numbers. Based in Atlanta, Equifax is the oldest of the three biggest American consumer credit reporting agencies. Its breach did not take place in a vacuum.


Arby’s, a national fast food chain, had malware placed on payment systems at various locations. Dun & Bradstreet leaked personal contact information on millions of employees at U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Postal Service, CVS Health, Wal-Mart and AT&T. Nearly 5 million users ofAmerica’s JobLink across ten states had personal information compromised. Identity thieves also snatched personal information for up to 100,000 taxpayers through the IRS Data Retrieval Tool which is used to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Those are just a few examples from 2017 alone.

Last year, consumers lost nearly $16 billion as a result of identity theft and fraud.Obviously, data breaches can be expected to be a regular occurrence in our brave, new digitized world. But you don’t have to sit back and wait to be victimized. Here are steps you can take to protect yourself after (and sometimes before) a breach occurs. 


  1. Keep a close watch over your finances. You should always keep track of what is moving in and out of your bank and credit card accounts. Match your receipts to your account ledgers daily and weekly; keep an eye out for oddities or discrepancies. Whether hackers are afoot or not, banks often make mistakes. You can even sign up for a credit or identity-monitoring service to make supervision easier.

  2. Take inventory of what was stolen. If a breach has occurred, make sure you know exactly what was stolen. If it was a simple leak of names or mailing addresses then you have nothing to worry about. A stolen email address will likely result in increased spam. Birth dates and drivers’ license numbers can be sensitive if taken along with your name and other contact information. Stolen payment cards and/or social security numbers will definitely require more action and attention on your part.

  3. Change/update your passwords.  Any compromised account passwords should be changed immediately. Make sure you always create strong passwords which contain at least 15 characters and include all four types of characters (upper-case letters, lower-case letters, punctuation marks/special characters, numerals).   Do not use names, birthdays or references to any personal interest that are potentially easy to guess. Never reuse passwords for multiple accounts.

  4. Alert any relevant financial institutions. If your payment card information was stolen, contact the issuer and understand that you are not liable.  More often than not, you will receive a call or notice from your card issuer if they notice suspicious activity first. Any fraudulent charges made against your card will be negated and you’ll be issued a new card. You’ll also want to contact credit reporting agencies to make sure your credit score is not adversely affected.

  5. Make any necessary reports to the proper authorities. If your social security number has been compromised, then you’ll want to notify Equifax, TransUnionand Experian(credit reporting agencies), the IRS, the Federal Trade Commission, your local police (if you want a new social security number), and the Internet Crime Complaint Center (who can alert all other law enforcement agencies). 

Have you had to deal with identity theft or a breach or your personal information? 


Nikki Igbo is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and political junkie. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Political Science from California State University at Fullerton and a Masters in Fine Arts of Writing at Savannah College of Art and Design. When not staring in disbelief at the antics unfolding on CSPAN, she enjoys philosophical arguments with her husband, 70's era music and any excuse to craft with glitter. Feel free to check out her freelance services at nikigbo.com and stalk her on twitter @nikigbo or Instagram at @nikigbo.


Stacie J.
Brain Aneurysm Month  
Two years ago, Stacie Jones, who many remember from the second season of “The Apprentice,” had just put her kids to bed and was saying goodnight to a friend who was staying over when she passed out cold. She was rushed to the hospital where they determined that she had suffered a seizure due to a ruptured brain aneurysm.

According to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation40 percent of people who suffer a brain aneurysm die, and 60 percent of survivors suffer permanent neurological deficit. When Stacie regained consciousness after being in an induced coma for four days, she had undergone a series of strokes that left her with memory loss, slowed speech, impaired vision, and an inability to control the left side of her body. The road to recovery would be very challenging, especially when you take a closer look at what happened.
Estimated to have been growing some 25 years, doctors said Stacie’s medium-sized aneurysm could have ruptured at any time. According to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, up to six million Americans have aneurysms, but they don’t always rupture. In many cases, they don’t have symptoms so there are no definite warning signs of a looming rupture. In Stacie’s case, however, there was a big warning sign.
Eleven days prior to being rushed to the hospital, Stacie had her first headache. It persisted daily, but she dismissed it, thinking maybe it had something to do with some wine she drank one night. Two days before the rupture, her daughters’ father insisted she get an MRI brain scan. “I did get an MRI, but doctors missed it,” Stacie said, adding that she should have gotten an MRA (magnetic resonance angiogram) scan because it gives a more detailed look inside the brain.
Research points to smoking, high blood pressure, cocaine use, and family history as possible causes of brain aneurysms. However, an avid runner for years who was the perfect bill of health, Stacie didn’t fit the profile for any of the risk factors. If family history was to blame Stacie wouldn’t know because her parents have never been tested.
It would take everything Stacie had to battle through learning to walk again, recovering her speech, regaining her vision, doing simple math, and taking charge of her own therapy once her insurance company stopped paying eight months in. Though a devastating blow, Stacie continued therapy by practicing mental games and exercises she learned online. “My drive to live and get better was all because of my kids,” said Stacie, whose daughters were 6 and 4 years old at the time of the rupture.
And while Stacie doesn’t know if she’ll ever be “100 percent,” she does recognize her progress as a miracle. “My neurosurgeon says that she’s only seen one other brain aneurysm patient recover to the extent that I have.”
As for what’s next, Stacie is passionate about bringing awareness to brain aneurysms. “The largest segment affected by aneurysms is African American women, so if you have the worst headache of your life, and it persists, go see a doctor immediately,” she warned. Stacie also started The Jones Insurance Agency to help people get the proper insurance care they need in case of a health emergency or death. “I never expected to need disability insurance, and then this happened,” she said, “so it’s important to protect yourself and your family while you are still healthy.”
To learn more about brain aneurysms, visit The Brain Aneurysm Foundation.
This article first appeared on Madamenoire.com. 
Featured photo of Stacie J. by Sharon Daniels. 

How much do you know about brain aneurysms? 

Erickka Sy Savané is the managing editor of CurlyNikki.com, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in Essence.comEbony.com, Madamenoire.com, xoNecole.com, and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or  





By Nikki Igbo

Approximately 25% of pregnancies in the U.S. end in miscarriage. It typically happens during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy with little to no indication as to why. I have had two miscarriages. The first one happened at about 7 weeks. The second happened at 11 weeks. I spent a lot of time not talking about either miscarriage and that was a tragedy in and of itself.


As I was living the experience of losing two pregnancies, two children who I very much wanted, I felt deeply alone and misunderstood. I felt as though I didn't have enough information to cope with what was happening. No one warned me about the sharp pain in my gut or the brightness of the blood or what those losses would feel like. No one explained how detached all the medical professionals would be or how one would even ask me to collect a sample of the blood and tissue to bring with me on my next doctor's visit. No one was able to make the hurt go away or reassure me that I could and would go on. No one told me not to give up trying for a successful pregnancy. In those moments of discovering that my pregnancies had failed, I never felt more alone or more devastated.

I recently had a surprisingly candid conversation with a complete stranger about my miscarriages. We were in a nail salon and we got to talking first about our children. I told her how I'd just had my second son two months ago and she told me about her two daughters. I told her how my sons were two years apart while she told me that her daughters had a nine year gap between them.

"My, you took a big break, huh," I said.

"I lost one between them," she answered.

"Oh, I'm so sorry. I've lost two myself," I followed. 

15 minutes later, we were both misty eyed and emotional as we recounted our ordeals in our respective emergency room visits. It was a beautiful and cathartic moment shared but it only happened because we both knew and understood that pain and time had been merciful in removing some of the sting. 

However, as we were experiencing it, we had only our family members or close friends to turn to--and they did not understand. And this, I believe, is most often why those of us who experience miscarriage do not talk about it.

My husband did not know how to comfort me while mourning his own loss. He'd never experienced it before. My mother told me things like "Everything happens for a reason" or "God has a plan." She'd never experienced it before. My sister didn't even bother to call me. She'd never experienced it before either. I hated every single one of them for their inability to help me through it and I did not want to hate them so I buried my feelings to save those relationships. What I most needed was a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on and confirmation that what I was feeling was okay. 

I was fortunate though. When I made up my mind to go back to living my life in grad school and at my writing internship, my manager shared with me how she'd experienced five back-to-back miscarriages. I remember sitting in her office listening to her and seeing the tears stream down her face. I remember her long and warm embrace. I remember her giving me information about fertility specialists and urging me not to give up. I remember her also glancing at the portrait of her toddler son she kept next to her computer screen and her squeezing my hand. 

She gave me hope. 

For those who have had one or multiple miscarriages, I urge you to be candid and open about your experience. Your testimony never fails to put life back into a better perspective. Your story lets others know that they are not alone. Your honesty can help erase anger at God and doubt in oneself and the worry and guilt that comes with the mystery of why the loss happened in the first place. 

For those who have never experienced a miscarriage, I urge you to listen carefully to the sisters who have, and be the compassionate, caring, support and strength they need. 

 What's your experience? Does it help to talk about miscarriage?

Nikki Igbo is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and political junkie. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Political Science from California State University at Fullerton and a Masters in Fine Arts of Writing at Savannah College of Art and Design. When not staring in disbelief at the antics unfolding on CSPAN, she enjoys philosophical arguments with her husband, 70's era music and any excuse to craft with glitter. Feel free to check out her freelance services at nikigbo.com and stalk her on twitter @nikigbo or Instagram at @nikigbo.

Artist Dianne Smith 







 Domestic Violence Month
 “He pushed me on the bed, pinned me down, and started punching me in the face,” recalls Harlem-based artist Dianne Smith, the night her 6’6, 270 lb. boyfriend assaulted her. It was the first time anything like that had ever happened, and when she asked him to go, he refused. She considered calling the police, however, she couldn’t risk them coming to her apartment and potentially killing this ‘big Black man,’ which would only make the situation worse. Besides, she had an important meeting in the morning regarding an art piece she was creating for the 40-year anniversary of the play, ‘For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow Is Enuf.’
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Instead, she called her best friend from across the street, and his best friend who lived nearby. Together they convinced him to pack his bags. When he was gone, Dianne began tending to her face, which now looked like a cartoon character. She also notified her neighbors about what happened in case he decided to come back. Sure enough, the next morning he was there, waiting on her doorstep. But so were her neighbors, who wouldn’t let him any where near her. Using them as a shield, she pressed forward and continued on to her meeting.

But as she walked down the street of her neighborhood, she noticed that something in her had changed. “I had my hat pulled down with my face covered, and I had to ask myself, who am I protecting? Am I worried about what people think? But I’d done nothing wrong. There was no reason for me to be ashamed.” In that moment, Dianne decided that if anyone asked her what happened to her face, she’d tell them the truth. It was in stark contrast to her Belizean upbringing where appearances are everything and you don’t go putting your business in the street.

As time moved on, her now ex-boyfriend continued his effort to get her back, leaving voice messages, some apologetic, some verbally violent. Her friends started pressuring Dianne to press charges, but she refused.

“I felt a lot of judgment, and people telling me what they would do. You don’t know what you will do until you are in that situation.” It was around that same time that Ray Rice was in the news for assaulting his then-girlfriend. Dianne found people judging her too. 
“People were quick to ask, ‘Why is she staying with him?’ when they should have been asking, ‘What’s wrong with him to hit a woman like that?'”

Fortunately, Dianne was able to get out of the relationship, but that’s not always the case. According to statistics, an estimated 50 women a month are killed by former or current partners. About 75 percent of the victims were killed as they attempted to leave or after they ended the relationship. And while Dianne didn’t want to have her ex arrested, she did take precaution. His recorded messages along with photos that she began taking of her face since the night of the assault, were sent to her brother. That way if anything ever happened it was documented. Ironically, it was these same photos that Dianne began to show her friends when domestic violence conversations came up, and the same photos that she would eventually use for her For Colored Girls art installation.

"One day, I re-read the poem 'Somebody Almost Walked Off Wid Alla My Stuff,' and a light-bulb went off. This poem is about a woman taking agency over herself. If I was going to do justice to the work, I had to be authentic and talk about what happened.”

Dianne had already sketched out the visual element of her piece, now it was time to create a video component. She chose three. For the first, she shows photographs of all the stuff in her apartment, while reciting the poem ‘somebody almost walked off wid alla my stuff.’ In the second, she shares actual images of her bruised face, while reciting domestic violence statistics. In a third, she interviews a diverse group of girlfriends from throughout the Diaspora who share powerful stories of stuff they’ve given away, lost or gotten stolen.

Dianne’s installation premiered at the Schomburg Museum in New York, and showed at both the African American Museum in Philadelphia and the Houston Museum Of African American Art.
Ultimately, she hopes that her work will continue to open minds, and show that domestic violence is not just a woman's issue. 

For more Dianne Smith, visit DianneSmithArt.com

Have you or someone you know been a victim of domestic violence? 


Erickka Sy Savané is the managing editor of CurlyNikki.com, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in Essence.comEbony.com, Madamenoire.com, xoNecole.com, and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or