Beverly Jean Leonard was born, reared, and raised in Dallas, Texas, where she attended the local schools. She went on to receive her teaching degree from Prairie View A&M University. (Go Panthers!) She retired in 2011 after serving 33 awesome years in the Dallas Public School District. While teaching, she was voted “Teacher of the Year” in 1984, in 1994, and in 2004. Every decade! She gives God the glory! Known as, “The Poet with a Message,” she continues to teach and inspire others through her God-given gift of poetry. She explains it this way, “It’s what you get when you combine wisdom and rhyme. You get powerful and inspired messages that are found within the lines. Sometimes they blow my mind.” Her work has been published in several newspapers, including a long run in The Birmingham Times in Birmingham, Alabama. She has also written several articles for The Dallas Morning News. She shares her gift of poetry in schools, churches, and local poetry venues. Her poems have won several oratorical awards that were recited by students. Mothers Against Teen Violence (MATV) displayed her poem, “Please Don’t Count Me Out,” in one of their quarterly brochures. Her first book, “Come Inside,” is touching many hearts, minds, and souls. Her second book “Come Again” is coming along well. She gives the praise and the honor to God and wants to swing from His glory! And while swinging from His glory, she wants to help, uplift, bless, encourage, and inspire others on this earthly journey. She looks forward to the plans that God has for her.
Q: Tell me more about your latest book.
A: I have only one book, “Come Inside.” It is a 265-page book of inspired poetry. It is touching the hearts, minds, and souls of everyone who peruses it. I’m working on book two, “Come Again.” It’s looking really good! All praises to The Most High!
Q: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
A: Sometimes when I mention that I’m a poet, some people’s minds get turned off. They will say, “I don’t like poetry.” Poetry gets a bad rap. I believe that if they give my poetry a try, they will enjoy it. Unless, that is, they don’t love the Lord because my poetry is spiritual based. God is all up in it and I make no apologies about that. The messages are real. They just happen to rhyme. Besides, the rhyming words are simply “The Cherries on Top.” That poem is in the book.
What motivated you to become an author?
A: I needed to make some extra money years ago. I still do. In 1996 I said a prayer, “Lord please send me something OR send me somewhere. Amen.” The next week God sent me my very first used computer and the gift of poetry. God knows His children very well. He knew that I love to read and had a portion of wisdom. My poetry is what you get when you mix wisdom and rhyme. You get some pretty deep and heavy lines. All praises to God! By the way, I’m a retired teacher. So, now I teach through my gift of poetry.
What brought you to write this book?
A: God gave me this gift and the poems were overflowing. Pressed down. The Holy Spirit guided me through everything. From the title, the publisher, the book cover, my pen name (“The Poet with a Message”) to the name of my next book. I was and I’m still in awe as I look back at the process of self-publishing this book.
Q: How many books have you written so far?
A: Just one. Working on book two, but I write all the time. Book two is nearly filled.
Q: What book or books had a strong influence on you and your writing?
A: The Bible
How hard is it to establish in the genre poetry?
A: Very hard. Many agents don’t usually like to work with poets unless you’re well known. Besides, agents cost money. Right now, I’m on a fixed income. But if it is God’s will to get established, then it shall be. If not, it will never become a reality. Nevertheless, I am to bloom where I’m planted and share my gifts with others whenever and wherever I can. I do realize that there are some things that I need to do to help my book/books get out there. So, here I am typing this up to send to you. Smile.
Q: Where do you love to write?
A: On my back porch, in my bedroom, in the living room, in my car, at the park, in restaurants, anywhere. I even write while driving in the rain. I know that’s crazy, but it’s true.
Q: Where do you get your ideas from?
A: From life. I always say that I write it as I live it. It’s the only way I can give it. I write according to how life moves me, soothes me, touches me, trips me, traps me, enwraps me, knocks me down, picks me up, and cuddles me. I write accordingly. I am definitely led by the Holy Spirit.
Q: What is your favorite poetry book?
A: I love poems/poetry books by Nikki Giovanni, Maya Angelou, Helen Steiner Rice, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, etc. … And of course, King David. Amanda Gorman, oh, my what a gift!
I have poems on YouTube. at Beverly Leonard Come Inside.
My book link is https://amzn.to/3hPwPiO