My book of poetry, Confessions of a Reformed Southern Belle: A Poet’s Collection of Love, Loss, and Renewal. is now available on Amazon. I would be honored if you read my words. I’m certainly no Whitman. I don’t claim to be. My poetry is simple and a reflection of me. You’ll find a melancholy, introspective, and somewhat snarky woman between the covers of the book. A woman who is no stranger to loss and heartache, but a woman who also has experienced love in its purest form, along with moments of great bliss. This book is an expression of my heart. Is it a work of art? I’ll let you be the judge. I can tell you, it was a labor of love. Be gentle.
I’d like to share the Foreword with you. Note, it was written by USA Today reporter, Ron Barnett.
How do you write a foreword for a book of poetry that has you on the verge of tears, then laughter, then soaring through the high places only a true poet can take you? Hang on, and check your preconceptions, because Tosha Michelle is about to take you on a journey through depths of the heart, and you won’t return unchanged.
I have a particular bias in support of this beautiful woman-child, because I am the guy she calls “Dad.” I’m actually not her biological father, but I have loved her deeply since before I married her mother when Tosha was eight years old, and I’m pretty sure she feels the same way about me.
She was always a witty little girl, with an incredible imagination and a talent for storytelling. And growing up, she read – a lot. She had some vision difficulties and would hold a book right up to her nose to read, but it seemed like she could read from cover to cover in a few minutes. I’d like to take some credit for her writing, being a writer myself, but I think she soaked it in on her own mostly, through all that reading she did as a child. She developed a love of words and stories and the worlds they transported her to, and her talent blossomed as an adult.
She also spent a lot of time with her grandmother, and around the good folks of the small town of Walhalla, South Carolina, where she absorbed the Southern culture that marked her personality and writing style. She has broken that mold, as the title of this collection hints, but is forever marked by the richness of the Carolina ambiance. The pathos of love lost early in life, recollection of the pains of adolescence and self-doubt still haunt her sometimes, but she has found her salvation through creativity – through expressing those dark feelings in verse, and in her singing. (If you haven’t heard that, you’re in for another treat.)
I’ve been a writer and journalist for a long time, and part of that time as an editor. When I read material written by others, I invariably find myself mentally editing, changing things around to the way I would have written them. In this collection, however, I found very little that I would touch as an editor. Tosha has an incomparable sense of rhythm and diction and style that are uniquely hers.
I’m no poetry critic, and I am biased in this case, but I think you’ll agree with me that her poetry is for the ages. She’ll take you through the depths of melancholy and loneliness with “Yearning,” and sing a “Love Song to the South” that will take you back to a simpler, more beautiful time. She’ll have you cracking up with a poem about her cat, dancing with her “Goddess of the Night,” and ready to take on the world, with “One Voice.” One of my favorites is her expression of soaring of the universal soul in the Whitmanesque “Edges.”
And everything she writes cries out with the words of the poor little forgotten book on the shelf – Read Me! Go ahead and turn the page.