Asha J. Watson is a woman who loves God, people, and language. She fell in love with poetry at an early age and was first published at 15 years old. She discovered her passion for short stories in her twenties and rediscovered writing poetry, and the courage to perform at open mics in her thirties. As a Spoken Word artist, she is known on the mic as "Purple Reign".
Off stage, she is a motivational speaker, entrepreneur, and community activist. She thoroughly enjoys mentoring others, especially the youth in her community. Asha currently lives in the DC Metro area but a huge portion of her heart resides in Oak Park, IL, her hometown.
Transfer Please: Short Poetic Vignettes About People In Common Places (AJW Originals Short Stories Book 1)by Asha WatsonPublish: Aug 28, 2018Literary Fiction
You Are Soul Be-you-tiful: Inspirational Affirmations for Childrenby Asha J. WatsonChildren's
I'm Soul Be-You-tiful from A-Z!: Inspirational Affirmations for Young Leadersby Asha J. WatsonChildren's
I loved the diversity of my hometown Oak Park, IL. I lived on a block with several children of multiple ethnicities and we would rotate where we ate dinner based on what each family was cooking. I ate Soul Food, Caribbean Food, Polish food, German food, and Thai food regularly and it expanded my view of the world.
I was an avid reader so I always daydreamed about the characters in my books.What made you fall in love with poetry at an early age? What motivated you to first published at 15 years old?
I grew up reciting poems and scriptures for Easter and Christmas, so I was familiar with poetry and performances as a child. I fell in love with it after I battled depression during my early teens years and a teacher gave me a journal and a copy of For Colored Girls Who've Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Wasn't Enough by Ntozake Shange. I realized that you can express emotions, even ugly emotions, beautifully through poetry.How did you find the courage to perform at open mics in her thirties? What motivated you to first published at 15 years old?
I learned about Spoken-word poetry from my baby sister who was an active member of OPRF's Spokenword Club and a competitor in several LTAB Poetry Slams (LTAB - Louder Than A Bomb is the largest youth poetry competition in the world). Her courage in high school taught me that sharing my writing was often more about what someone needed to hear, than whether I felt like sharing it.
As a child, I wanted to be a Superhero (Transformer & Wonder Woman combination), a Teacher and a Lawyer. I think I've found a balance of them all in various endeavors, and writing allows me to be what I want.Describe for someone who has never heard of it what spoken word poetry is. What is your favorite line of your own poem and your favorite poem you have written?
To me, spoken word is a very authentic and conversational style of writing poetry. Each artist has their own cadence and style. It's punchlines and deep thoughts that often have layered messages.
My favorite personal poem is one that I wrote for my children when they were toddlers called "Thank You For The Flowers" and my favorite line in a piece at the moment is one I wrote this summer during a writing challenge. The writing prompt was "The Last Time I Got My Hands Dirty" and the line is: "I've always liked being close to nature; they call me tomboy; I know I was finding God"Being a community activist, what is your theory of social change? What is guiding your choice of actions?
My theory on activism is to that everyone should be active in their community. Know what's going on. Learn the challenges and connect people that provide solutions to the people that need them. I am a mentor and an advocate and trainer/coach for mentors and community leaders. I believe strongly in collaboration and human connection because I know that together, we have all of the solutions we need to create positive change.What are some feelings you hope to invoke in your readers with Transfer Please? What are some differences between writing short stories and a poem?
I call Transfer Please 'storytry' because it's a mixture of telling a story to make a point and open- ended poetic thoughts. I want people to get back to observing each other. We need to care more about the stranger sitting next to us than the 'words with friends' game in our phone. I think that most of the social confusion we have is because we aren't listening to, connecting with and getting to know each other on a human level. I also want people to see the simplicity of the book and think 'I could do this' and do it! If I inspire people to journal or even to write a book then I would be happy!
For me, the process is different. Stories come in concept and in sequence, but poetry usually comes to me in scattered lines. Eventually I piece the thoughts of a poem together and it makes one poem.How were you introduced to spoken word poetry? As a Spoken Word artist, how did you come to be known on the mic as "Purple Reign?"
I was introduced to Spoken Word poetry through my sister but when I relocated to Northern Virginia I found a home in the 'Comfort Zone' of the longest running open mic in Virginia called Spirits N Lyrics (also known as SNL Poetry).
My poet friend Toni Smith, who also designed the 1st place winning book cover of Transfer Please, signed me up as 'Purple Reign' at SNL Open Mic one night and it stuck. I love all things purple, I love to be in charge of things, and I love Prince so I love the name.What are some common stereotypes that people have of authors that do not hold true for you? What are some that do?
Anyone can be an Author if they decide to write and publish their work, so the exclusivity of it is really in the quality of their work. I hope that my writing leaves a positive impact. I hope it inspires a connection to yourself and others. I hope my writing outlives me so that my great-great-great-great grandchildren know who I am. I think everyone has a story to tell, so everyone can build an audience if they desire to.Do you think someone can be an author without having discipline? Why or why not?
Publishing a book is not a simple task so patience is needed. An author has to decide what they want the book to become and accomplishing that goal is where discipline comes in. One of my goals is to get my books into school systems that will use them to encourage youth to self-reflect and journal. I also want people that like to read, but feel they don't have enough time, to feel like they can enjoy this book. I am working towards this goal. Any author can sell as few or as many books as they dedicate themselves to sell.Have you ever thought of collaborating and writing something with another author? If so, who would you want to work with?
I am working on a collaboration with several young adults and teenagers that like to write but aren't published yet. I hope that this will light their individual author fires. If I could collaborate with any well-known authors I would have to say, Alice Walker, Nikki Giovanni, and Issa Rae inspire me in so many ways that it would be an honor to work with them in any capacity.What were some misconceptions you had about the book and publishing industry before you became a published author?
The misconception is that the publisher is in control, but my experience was a partnership. I wanted to maintain creative control of my projects. I wanted a certain size, look and feel and working with Great Publishing Company was amazing! They helped me make difficult decisions and when my books arrived I was ecstatic with the outcome!Why did you decide you write a book about Short Poetic Vignettes About People In Common Places? Which is your favorite story in the book?
Transfer Please started out as my own journal writings. I rode the CTA in Chicago often and I would imagine people and formulate stories about where I thought they were going or what I observed about them. My cousin, Latacia told me that I should turn them into a book, so I did.
My favorite story is 'Final Stop' because that character generated from memories of my mother who passed away in March of 2018. When I added the story I knew I was finished I published in September of the same year to honor her memory. I delayed publishing the book for almost 6 years, so it was time.What was the most challenging experience on your road to becoming an author? What advice do you have for newbie authors who might encounter the same challenges?
Procrastination and perfectionism are a writer's worst enemy. Write something great and move on to write other great things. Don't get stuck in the process because you can always have a 2nd Edition. Believe in your work. You won't please everyone, but you can create something that you are proud of that reaches the people it is supposed to.What is the toughest criticism you've ever received? What was the best?
At one point a friend pointed out that I was afraid to succeed. I was full of excuses and they were causing me to prolong completion. This was both the best and toughest criticism so far.Lastly, how would you rate your experience with AllAuthor so far? Could you pinpoint some things you really like or dislike?
AllAuthor has been amazing! I entered the cover contest because I was proud of my graphic designer and I knew we could win, but I had no idea how amazing the prize was. The benefit of being in the contest was the exposure and organic buzz that was created around my book! People started asking about the book and clicking the links when they got invested in voting for us. AllAuthor platform provided a nice link for me to share my work when I'm submitting for various projects. I love the banners and images that you send because they make marketing my book so much easier! Thank you so much for the tweets because it is difficult to get your name and work marketed without a team. AllAuthor had given me a team! Thank you!
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