AsiahMae is a multi-talented writer, artist, and creator. Her recently released book of poetry, “Oxygen“, provides an intimate look at a dark time in her life. We sat down with AsiahMae to discuss her poetry, her work, and how she found the courage to regain her breath.
LALJ: Your new poetry collection “Oxygen” was written while you were 21-24 and you describe it as a time you were “in the dark…underwater”, can you elaborate on that period of your life and how it shows up in this collection?
AM: Originally, the idea of a book came up to me as a last gift to the world before I died. I know that’s really morbid, but I had planned to end my life shortly after my 21st birthday, and I wanted my death to be poetic. I had just gone from being the overachieving golden child to moving back home into a two bedroom apartment with 3 people, no job, financial aid issues at school, a toxic relationship and a miscarriage. I was drowning, and done with life at the tender age of 20. I was going to leave my suicide notes in a book, for the people I love to always have a piece of me, but God had other plans and I’m forever grateful for my computer dying and most of those poems being lost forever. I found two of them, Ghosts and Nobody Listens To Love Songs, in an old notebooks around 22 when I was healing, and just kept writing from there. You see bits and pieces of my healing process, especially from loves during my healing period, all throughout the book.
LALJ: How exactly did you learn “how to breathe”? Was it the act of writing poetry that got you through or something else?
AM: Learning to breathe represented me healing. It was a combination of writing, having some really serious talks with my loved ones, crying a lot, laughing a lot, loving a lot. I started living holistically, making my own products, really getting back to my roots as the granddaughter of healers. I had to learn to love myself, fully, to understand that I wasn’t drowning. It was literally do or die, when life comes at you you’re either going to drown or you’re going to learn to breathe, so I grew gills.
LALJ: Was it hard for you to release this work to the world?
AM: This was definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I pushed the due date back at least 4 times lol. It was just really personal, and I knew a few people would read it and know it was about them. It was also the first time I publicly wrote about my first girlfriend, especially for my family members I hadn’t come out to yet, so it was a lot. But I regret nothing. It feels so beautiful.
LALJ: Describe your self-publishing process.
AM: All credits go to my For The Scribes partner Willie Kinard, he was my saving grace. I knew nothing about self publishing and he was just like girl, I got you. He formatted my words, picked the order, he sent me fonts to choose from, everything. We used a self publishing site, it took about a week for us to get everything together. My boyfriend, Richard Drayton, designed my cover, and that helped tons because I’m a horrible graphic designer, ha. It really was a collaborative effort and I couldn’t have done it without them.
LALJ: One of your goals were to publish a book, what’s next now?
AM: There’s so much in the works now, life is really exciting. My book was the first one published through For The Scribes, so now we’re working on officially becoming a publishing house to help other indie writers on this journey. We’re working on my website for my personal brand (as of today), I think I’m at last ready to start really working on my first musical project and I’ve already started on book two. It feels weird, because I’m really just a regular girl trying to live a dream you know? But I’m excited, it feels great.
LALJ: Your bath products line “Black Honey” is launching in November, was it intentional to create products that could be used in water?
AM: Yes! I’m so glad you caught on to that. Water is so spiritual to me, it’s both the creator and the destroyer, the cleanser and the wrecker. It’s also my element, I’m a Scorpio and I’m very much in love with my sign. I started Black Honey under a different name a few years back when I was healing and learning about my gifts as a healer. I learned that my gift comes through my hands, through touch, and its amplified in water. I wanted to create a line that met at the crossroads of spirituality and sensuality. We moved the date from November to the start of the year to finalize some things, because I’m very particular about how I want this done and I need it done right. This is my baby, and I’m so ready to help people heal this way.
AM: FTS just added two new staff members, so right now we’re getting everyone settled and acquainted. I will say, be on the lookout for merch! That’s coming sooner than you think. As far as IllVibe, we have some shows we’re producing coming up in December with other creatives in the area, as well as Black Honey, which is a branch of IllVibe. We’re constantly working and doing our part to earn our seat at the table. It’s only the beginning.
Interview by Ev Petgrave