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An Interview with BGPS Winner Melanie-Nicole!



Tell us about you! How old are you, and where are you from? What’s a fun fact about your hometown?

I’m a 36-year-old teacher, author, poet, and doctoral student from Anchorage, Alaska.  A fun fact is that the aurora borealis (Northern Lights) is so amazingly beautiful. The pictures and videos do it no justice. 


You’re an English teacher, which really goes hand in hand with being a writer and an artist. How does being a teacher inspire your poetry/writing?

Being an English teacher ties so much into my writing because it sets an example for my students and shows the power and impact of artfully putting words together. My students also inspire complex and layered emotions that wouldn’t come up otherwise for me. Seeing myself and the world from their perspectives gives me the courage to write boldly. They also force me to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak, and show them what great writing looks like in motion. 


Do you perform spoken word as well? If you could advise a student who is interested in poetry/performing, what would you tell them?

I have never performed spoken word before, but I perform daily from 8 am - 3 pm in my classroom ;-) My advice to students who want to perform or recite poetry is to tell them to be themselves, believe in their voice, and know that someone in the room needs to hear their poetry.  


Your winning poem “Black is…”  was pretty straightforward and really encapsulated what it feels like to be a proud Black woman. In your opinion, what makes being Black unique in terms of art and poetry?

Ah, “Black is…” poured out of me about a week after George Floyd was murdered. I was angry, hurt, disappointed, and frustrated. Another black man stolen from us, another family senselessly torn apart. I was deeply proud of how we come together as black people in times of tragedy and extremely tired of us having to do it. 

Black is… the rope I cling to when lost and the noose swaying in my rearview.” Being black is the ultimate double-edged sword; we are equally loved and hated for our existence. As black women, we have the unique position of being the source material for all imitators and perpetrators while also being the most potently skilled at expressing our love, our pain, and our passion. 


Tell us about the book you co-authored, Roses from Troubled Soil Volume II.

Roses From Troubled Soil is the poetic love child of three friends and me, who had been saying that we wanted to publish our poetry for years but had never done it. After making it my 2023 New Year’s Resolution to publish my work finally, I spearheaded the effort by recruiting writers, forming The Roses Collective, and fumbling through the publication process until we were successful. The first volume was a small collection of about thirty poems, and we were excited to see our work in print. But this year, The Collective showed up and showed out with over sixty poems, and I could tell that each of us found our groove and voice a little bit more with this one. RFTS Vol. III is in the works now! 


You are also the co-host of a podcast, Teacher Besties. Tell us about it!

Yes! So, my real-life teacher-bestie and close friend Sonia and I always get into these deep, philosophical discussions, and our co-workers often joked that we needed to do a podcast. It wasn’t until I left teaching in quite dramatic (and unexpected) fashion in December 2023 that I felt free enough to speak my mind and already had the perfect podcast partner in mind. The show aims to promote deep thought and deep friendship while giving a voice to educators who may not be at liberty to discuss the sometimes muddy and multi-layered nature of our profession. 


Besides writing and teaching, what else do you enjoy? 

Besides being a writer, I am a makeup artist and recording artist. I love fashion, designer purses, and a good candle! I love singing, gaming, and spending a peaceful afternoon at the beach. 


How was your experience working with us and the Black Girl Poetry Scrapbook?

I loved it! After feeling confident about finally publishing my book, I submitted my poem to BGPS, and it was a great decision. The scrapbook is beautiful, and it always feels good to support fellow poets. 


Do you have any projects on the horizon or events coming up? 

Currently, I am working on Roses From Troubled Soil Vol. III (February 2025), season 1 of Teacher Besties, and planning a wedding! I’m so thankful for all of the love and light that has entered my life, and BGPS has been a special part of this joyous time in my life. Thank you for allowing me to join this incredible community. 





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