Page 1











BOOKCON 2017 page 30




@momentszine @momentszine @momentszine

Kendal Conrad Story by Rhiannon Levengood Photos by Rachel Meyers THE MULTITALENTED, EXTREMELY CHARMING Kendal Conrad is confidently leaving her mark in music history. On top of being a singer/songwriter, Kendal can play five instruments (acoustic guitar, ganjo, alto saxophone, piano, and mandolin) and even has an extensive resume of theatre roles. She’s performed with Keith Urban at Musikfest, and has opened for Michael Ray in New Jersey and Uncle Kracker at Louisiana Peach Festival this summer. If you haven’t picked up on it yet, she describes herself as a pop/country artist, but the Kendal Conrad I know stood beside me in the alto section of our high school choir singing Melissa Etheridge’s “Come To My Window” in place of “Come To My Garden” from the Secret Garden. Kendal recalls growing up in a home full of music in my little hometown of Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Among the most played artists in her household were the Spice Girls, Shania Twain, Gloria Estefan, Whitney Houston, Fleetwood Mac, and Janet Jackson. She explains to us, “My mom played piano for 10 years, but no one in my immediate family ever really sang. I think music sort of found me.” Throughout her grade school and college career, Conrad has played a slew of theatre roles including Hodel in Fiddler On The Roof, Brooke Ashton in Noises Off,




“I like being able to step into someone else’s shoes and see the world through their eyes, as cliché as that sounds. Empathy is such a wonderful thing.” Betty in Sure Thing, and Holly Golightly in Breakfast At Tiffany’s. But that doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the roles she’s portrayed on stage. Despite aspiring to be a recording artist, she tells Moments, “Ironically when I do theatre, I would much rather do plays than musicals! I like being able to step into someone else’s shoes and see the world through their eyes, as cliché as that sounds. Empathy is such a wonderful thing.” Now as an Ursinus alumna, Kendal is focusing on her career as a solo music artist. She is currently working on releasing some new original music, divulging to us that she’s writing new songs every single day and taking just a few to the studio. The majority of Kendal’s influence comes from other artists in the industry, but instead of becoming a carbon copy of her favorites, she bleeds them together to form something no one’s ever seen before. “I don’t consciously think of other artists when I’m writing or performing. Instead, I watch my favorite artists onstage and listen to my favorite songs and try to figure out what moves me–emotionally and physically. Which beats are the catchiest? What are the lyrics doing that puts

that lump in my throat? If I can figure that out, I try to incorporate those techniques into my music. I like Taylor Swift’s quirky metaphors. I like Ariana Grande’s flashy outfits and her bluesy, R&B vibes. I love Reba McEntire’s warm personality when she’s on and off the stage.” With her music, she hopes to show the world that being vulnerable doesn’t make you weak. She explains, “It’s brave. Love fiercely. Speak from the heart and own it.” Kendal Conrad has her head in the right place when it comes to creating her music, and her technique is to focus on the road ahead, only looking back to see how much has changed. “My favorite part of my journey is to look back a month, three months, a year–and see how far I’ve come. When you’re walking this loooooong road, it’s hard to see your progress until you’ve turned around for a second and looked back on where you started.” For other aspiring artists, Kendal encourages, “Listen to criticism from people who love you and want to see you succeed. Block out all the rest. Do what you feel in your heart is right for you and stick to it.” Kendal’s first single “Country Queen” is available for purchase on iTunes.

MORE ON KENDAL: Most Played On iTunes: “Welcome Home” by Coheed and Cambria Guilty Pleasure Music: Scores, theme music, and American band Two Steps From Hell Dream Duo Tour: Keith Urban

Tour Rider: Siggi’s yogurt, halo top ice cream, salmon, Starbucks (London Fog Latte, Green Tea Latte, Coconut Milk Mocha Macchiato), and a Yankee candle in the dressing room. Waffles or Pancakes: Pancake Pantry’s sweet potato pancakes with their special cinnamon maple syrup is TO DIE FOR. 7


Katie Zaccardi Story and photos by Paula Araujo AROUND THE AGE OF 8, YOU WOULD FIND Katie Zaccardi jamming out to Hilary Duff ’s Metamorphosis. Today, you’ll find that she’s full of love and admiration for Ingrid Michaelson and paving her own musical journey. While she gives most of her credit to her father’s eclectic music taste, in influencing her own, some other artists currently pumping through her speakers include a former One Direction member and Disney star. “I love Harry Styles’ new album, and I lowkey am really excited for both Miley and Noah Cyrus’s new albums. Also Carly Rae Jepsen’s Emotion was the best album of 2015!” Aside from what she’s listening to these days, some other things you may find Katie doing include: cooking, attending yoga, and watching Lost. While those these things may seem ordinary, Katie is anything but that.


Recently graduated from NYU with a degree in Music Business, Katie is ready to take things to the next level. She’s clearly off to a great start with this degree under her belt. It’s given her a great advantage in how she approaches her career. “I wouldn’t be doing what I do without that program - I learned so much, especially how to self manage and build my songwriting skills. All of the people who helped me get started 3 years ago were classmates of mine. NYU allowed me to meet a lot of amazing people, including mentors and peers who are already doing incredible things.” School presented many doors to ideas that may have never crossed her mind otherwise. One being a class in which she was given the opportunity to write a Broadway show, which is something she is most proud of. She elaborates on the experience, “Though it’s different from what I ‘normally’ do, it was incredibly fun and challenging. Obviously it is nowhere near finished yet, but I am pretty proud that I was able to even start and that this path was opened for me.” When it comes to creating new music, Katie doesn’t just limit herself to her own ideas. One of her favorite aspects is collaborating with others and bouncing around other ideas. “I really like bringing new songs to band mates or producers and seeing their take on it, particularly in the instrumentation. There are so many ways to explore a song depending on the arrangement, and it’s so fun to mess around with the different options.” Creating new music has always been a challenge in itself as well. Writing and drawing from personal experiences plus sharing it with the world is daunting. It’s a process of self discovery when you’re striving to be an authentic artist. Katie explains, “Well I think most writers really dive deep within themselves for inspiration and emotion when writing songs, [for] both lyrics and melodies. Doing that definitely allows you to discover new feelings and certainly stay honest with yourself as you try to be as raw as possible.” Katie wholeheartedly believes in always being yourself no matter what. She advises other aspiring musicians, to never be anything they’re not. ”It may seem easier to just do whatever seems mainstream, but if you aren’t creating the art you want to create it will show! As long as you put everything you have


into your music, you’ll be successful and find people who love it as much as you do.” Out of all the things involving music, live shows are one of her favorite things. With suave vocals, and a ukulele or acoustic guitar by her side, Katie takes all these elements and gives an enchanting live performance. “Everything is amazing, it’s a lot of hard work but performing and sharing your music with people is one big adrenaline rush.” At its core, Katie’s universal message through her music is about love in all forms. She passionately shares, “Love, y’all! The music that I have out now mainly tells the stories of relationships and love. However a lot of the unreleased material I am working on, some of which I perform at shows, touches greatly on anxiety and mental health. And from that I just want to get across the message that everyone is going through something and what’s most important is that we love ourselves and each other.” It’s no doubt that love is the root of this driving force in Katie. Especially, when so much of it is love and support from her very own family. It’s played a massive role in her life. “I’m really close with my family, so I was lucky to have a lot of support from them. They opened so many doors for me by taking me to my lessons (guitar, piano, voice) and encouraging me to be in (musical theater) shows and perform at recitals when I was a kid. Plus I have the most incredible friends who come out to every show no matter how many times they’ve seen me. They are truly my heroes because they are unwavering in their support but will also give me honest opinions on my work.” There’s so much Katie has already accomplished and so much more ahead to look forward to. You can always expect live performances and new music. As far as goals, Katie shares, “Short term: I hope to write an insane amount and hopefully record and release a new EP or album. Long term: I’d love to have a bigger network of people to collaborate with so I am constantly working on projects, especially those that aren’t mine.” For now, definitely keep Katie on your radar as she has one of the most unique voices around. Her aspirations and talent will continue to open doors and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for her next.


Story by Rhiannon Levengood Photos by Paula Araujo ASPIRING FEMALE ARTIST JACKIE PALADINO has no problem making sure you know her name and her story by creating music that she describes as “emotional, soulful, sassy, and honest.” With naked feet and a glass of wine in hand, she bares her heart on her sleeve as passion and sometimes heartbreak hangs onto every word she sings. Jackie Paladino grew up in Central New Jersey where she began her journey at the young age of four as her tiny toddler fingers delicately danced along the ivory keys of a piano. It was during her first piano lesson that she discovered the vast world of music. She described her experience, “I remember seeing pictures of The Beatles in the waiting room and wondering who these guys were. I remember my teacher talking to me about her arthritis and placing my hands gently on the keys. I remember something about pebbles in a pond and the noise the pebble makes when it skips—how that was music too.” From there, Jackie delved into musical theatre and even started to write her own songs as a teenager, but it wasn’t until she stepped into the real world as a young adult in university that she took her music career seriously. In a spontaneous decision to escape the trapped feeling she had as a community college student in New Jersey, Paladino packed her music and her belongings into a single suitcase, and crossed the Hudson River to pursue a life of music in the Big Apple. We were lucky enough to speak with Jackie about her journey so far: How would you describe your style of music? I don’t know if I can put a label on my style. I think most labels are created so that the general public can organize you within the world better. From our sexuality to our level of intelligence to our socioeconomic class and beyond—there is always a spectrum that exists for each. And the spectrum is ever-changing. So, my genre of music is an extension of myself, which is ever-changing. Those who choose to listen and grow with me mean more than anything else in the world, and I thank you.


Jackie Jackie Paladino Paladino

Story by Rhiannon Levengood Photos byPaula Araujo


What do you want people to take away from your music? Honesty, connection, understanding. We live in a society that hides vulnerability and imperfection on a daily basis. That has only heightened with the advance of technology because we are constantly bombarded with “perfect” images that distract us from the imperfect, yet beautiful, reality of the world around us. So, if I can tell truthful stories with my music and bare my soul and scars to the world, my struggle, my pain, my womanhood, my sparks of joy, moments of clarity, and they applaud, that to me means that maybe they went through or are experiencing something similar. Maybe they understand. And maybe we are not so alone in the scars that we hide and the stories that they unveil after all. Where do you draw your inspiration from? Is there a specific artist, family member, or friend that inspires you the most? Donna Missal and I went to the same performing arts high school and she inspires me constantly. [...] I just really love her music and have enjoyed watching her grind all of these years. Her song, “Stop the World” is especially one of my favorites and embodies a lot of how I feel most of the time. J Dilla is another recent inspiration, Leonard Cohen, Regina Spektor, Oshun, etc. People who are truly committed to their craft and can’t find it in themselves to spend their time pursuing anything else. My sister is also a constant inspiration to me, because she is a beautiful human being and my very best friend. What’s the most rewarding aspect of your career so far? The people I’ve met. I’ve always been a bit of an outsider and grew up in a traditional family setting with parents and relatives with conservative occupations. Even my neighbors all had very conservative professionals, so veering outside of that was hard to even imagine. Meeting working professionals or peers my age [who are] pursuing or working in any artistic field has finally given me a sense of community and belonging that I’ve been longing for my entire life. What’s the most challenging aspect of your career so far? Money. Finances have always been a challenge for me and my family, and it’s one of the main reasons why I stopped pursuing the arts for a minute. I’ve survived this far though, so I guess I’m stronger than I give myself credit for. What is your workflow like? What does a typical day in the life of Jackie look like? There is no typical day for me anymore and I LOVE that! Whether I am playing music gigs, working acting gigs, or figuring out my next move, I have a lot of flexibility to 14

make my own schedule. But it’s a 24/7 hustle, always. When was the moment you knew you wanted to do this for a living? I think I’ve always known somewhere subconsciously that I couldn’t do anything else. That combined with learning about professional artists alongside how much I loathe most work outside of the arts pretty much sealed the deal. Which do you prefer: stage performing or your own live shows? They’re different. I don’t know that I prefer one over the other at first glance, but there is something nice about performing your original work versus conforming to another writer’s vision. You have more control. Do you have any short term goals? Make a music video. Finish some singles with different writers, finish the Broken Soldier EP. Find some sponsors, and maybe a new boyfriend. Do you have a dream role in a musical you’d love to play? I really loved playing Wendla in the off-broadway production of Spring Awakening. That was a beautiful time. Aside from that probably Mimi from Rent because I love all of the music she sings and just love her story overall. What’s your favorite musical? That is so hard! Maybe The Sound of Music because it’s a classic and was the first musical I ever saw in a theatre. Out of any character from a broadway musical, which do you think you relate to most? Nina from In the Heights. Paying for college has been an uphill battle for me, and I came home after my first semester heartbroken about the reality of my situation. I sang “Breathe” countless times and just cried a lot. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? Write down what you want. Forget about the how. The how will come. Who’s your most played artist on Spotify/iTunes? Again, so hard. Maybe Lauryn Hill? Who would you most like to tour with? I really love Rumer and could definitely see myself touring with her. What’s your Netflix guilty pleasure? 13 Reasons Why, recently, and Master of None.


#WomenCrush NYC Showcase



Photos by Paula Araujo


Kiirstin Marilyn

Story and photos by Paula Araujo

WITH POWERHOUSE VOCALS AND STAGE presence, Kiirstin Marilyn is ready to take the world by storm. She was only 2 years old when she first stepped on stage and found a forever home. Passionate, talented, and vigorous are just a few ways to describe her and her live performances. She refers to her style as “Lana Del Rey meets Skrillex and then Gwen Stefani joined the party.” Upon meeting Kiirstin, she radiates confidence and charisma. Having spent so much of her life in musical theater and acting, it’s no surprise she is incredibly ambitious. Though it wasn’t until she focused solely on music for herself that she truly found her voice. While creating music on her own she says, “I discovered the type of artist I want to be. One with integrity and who stands up for what’s right within my songs. I also discovered my voice. I used to perform musical theater and I had no idea who I was, what my voice was, and how it fit into the genre of musical theater. Once I left musical theater, I started on my journey to discover my own voice which I can proudly say, 10 years later, I finally discovered.” Offstage, Kiirstin is a passionate activist particularly for the environment and animals. You’re likely to find her at a horse carriage protest in New York City or creating video content such as sketches. She takes each day as it comes. Currently, she is working on YouTube series amongst other things. No two days are alike for her, “As a freelancer I’m always working on something different, from recording vocals for a non-singing songwriter to interviewing vegans for my new webseries V for Veganism to writing and shooting comedy sketches for Stumble Through Productions. I’m always all over the place, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.” 18

Like with any aspect of life, sometimes things can get tricky and hard. One thing Kiirstin is proud of is how she continues to persevere. “I’m pretty proud of my ability to get knocked down and get back up and keep going. I’ve worked with managers and labels, been in different bands that didn’t work out, and I’m still here creating and putting myself and my music out there.” Thankfully, growing up, Kiirstin has always had the opportunity to pursue what she wanted thanks to the support of her family. Days were packed with all sorts of activities. Despite being born and raised in New Jersey, she always felt connected to the city. It’s also no wonder that with such a busy schedule, that the hustle and bustle of the city life always attracted her. She recalls, “I was always on the move, from dance class to singing lessons to play rehearsals (and even cross-country practice.) I think that helped me to know I was someone (even if I wasn’t sure who that someone was exactly) early on in life. I grew up with a passion, and I think kids need that kind of activity to build self-esteem and keep them from succumbing to social pressures.” Aside from the support of family and friends, another heavy influence in Kiirtstin’s life that ties into her music is one of her all time favorite bands, Enter Shikari. “They inspire me to stand with my convictions and use my platform to make a difference. Bands before them have had a similar message to theirs, but I really feel like they are doing it in a revolutionary way. Of course I’m influenced by bands like Rage Against the Machine, but I’ve never been so lyrically influenced by a band like Enter Shikari.”


Kiirtstin knows first hand the pressure and obstacles of pursuing a career in music. She’s overcome the fear that comes with it and strongly advices that for other aspiring artists to stay true to themselves no matter what. “It sounds cliché, but be true to yourself. You have your own voice, don’t let anyone take it away or silence it. I did that for too long. I let other people dictate who I was supposed to be, and I was always miserable. I’m finally in a place where I’m confident enough in myself to listen to my own instincts. I’m sorry that it took me so long to get here.” These are ideals, that she carries close to her and applies to everyday life. When talking about the short term and long term goals, she explains, “Short term: I plan to release an album. I had hoped by the end of this year, but it will probably be sometime in 2018. Long term: I just want to be happy, doing the things i’m passionate about, and never succumbing to societal pressures to conform, which is pretty much what I’m doing now.” Ambition is a driving force that will steer Kiirstin anywhere she dreams of. She is articulated and her movement is just beginning. As for what’s to come, there’s more music in store plus the launch of the webseries. “It’s my first foray into hosting and I hope people enjoy watching. I’m also excited to get back to working on new music. I have a bunch of tracks that are ready to be produced and it’s just about finding that right person that I creatively connect with.” There’s no holding back now once Kiirstin has a microphone in hand. She has a rare quality that all musicians should have but don’t, she’s phenomenal live. In studio, she’s great, but to fully capture her essence as an artist, you must see her perform live. The lyrics and the music transcend beautifully when she performs. The size of the stage doesn’t matter, she conquers the ground she walks on and bares it all on stage. When it comes to a show and incorporating all the elements, she hope viewers can take away this, “I want people to hear the message. I want people to think about social injustice, the environment, and making large changes in their own lives to save nature and preserve human existence. I want people to embrace our differences and love what makes us all the same. I want people to hear my songs and become more conscious of the world around them. Tall order, I know, but that’s my goal.”




Ashley Kervabon Story by Rhiannon Levengood Photos by Paula Araujo

THIS ISSUE IS INSPIRED BY AN ORGANIZATION called #WomenCrush. Ashley Kervabon, the creator and founder of the group, describes it as a passion project that she created by accident, but that accident has sparked a movement nationwide. #WomenCrush is an association of female artists that scouts, recruits, and produces fellow female musicians in a safe and supportive community. Originating in Portland, Oregon, #WomenCrush has left its mark in cities such as Manhattan and Nashville, with plans of expanding further to Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Austin, and New Orleans by the start of 2018. Kervabon hosts showcases in each city, where her girls can perform and meet others musicians in the industry in an atmosphere that is both encouraging and compassionate. Moments was lucky enough to attend the very first New York City #WomenCrush showcase in May 2017 where we witnessed Ashley at work with a perpetual smile on her face. We watched as the four artists (Katie Zaccardi, Jackie Paladino, Kiirstin Marilyn, and Ashley herself) interacted with one another, praising and loving each others’ music, and ultimately creating friendships that would last a lifetime. The showcase was small, but it made a permanent impact on myself and the other attendees. Fortunately, we were able to speak with Ashley Kervabon about her journey in creating an organization from scratch. What inspired you to create #WomenCrush? #WomenCrush was a passion project created by pure accident. I’ve always been very serious about the music business—as an artist and industry [professional]— but also very aware that this industry falls in line with many others when it comes to sexism. I have gotten to the point in my life where yes, I want to make music

and yes, I want to help other artists but I also want to make a difference. I have the blessing of having connections in the scene, curating shows is fun for me, so I figured why not combine the two and help other rising female artists like me? Once it started to take off, it just seemed like everything was falling into place. Now, I’m even more inspired to expand the #WomenCrush brand. I don’t want it to just be nationwide showcases, I want it to be an international movement. What does the overall message mean to you personally? We all have stories of when we first realized things weren’t quite as equal for men and women in this industry. I will tell you one of mine: I was working at a music venue in the heart of NYC where I would often use my time at the check-in desk to update my blog and scope out the music industry professionals coming in the door. I had developed a friendly relationship with a very well-known writer of a very reputable music magazine,and one day, I decided to go out of my comfort zone and ask him how a soon to be college grad like me could work for someone like him. His answer was simple, “My publication would never hire a young woman to be a writer, that’s just not how this industry works.” This was seven years ago and to do this day I wish I would have confronted this man and asked him “why?” #WomenCrush is important because it showcases what women in the industry do and that’s something that isn’t often recognized. It means making the music industry welcoming & supportive of rising female artists and aspiring female music industry professionals. I don’t want anyone to feel how I felt being shot down all those years ago. We’ve all got to be in this together. 23

How do you view the industry as a whole, both as an artist and as a manager/PR? I think that the industry is always changing—and it’s important to note that, no matter what your role is. Sometimes it’s best to roll with the times but if #WomenCrush stands for anything, it stands for doing things differently. Has working the PR side of the industry changed your view at all? I don’t think it has changed my view only because I kind of dived into both being an artist and PR at the same time, but I think it has only benefited me. I think if you’re trying to be an artist and really get out there, it’s important to know how to do it. Even if in the long run you are going to hire someone to do your marketing/PR/booking for you, it’s in your best interest to know what all of it entails so you can get more out of their services and know what you’re paying for. Do you enjoy all parts of the industry equally? Or do you favor one side over the other? I’m going to be honest and say it depends on the day. Sometimes I feel like I’m living a double life. For instance, today I have spent the majority of my day writing emails and sending pitches out. But tonight, I’ll be in the studio working with one of my songwriting clients on her new EP. I feel very lucky to be able to do both sides and I have so much love and appreciation for both. How did you create an organization from scratch? What has been the most difficult aspect so far? A lot of networking events, cold calling (and emailing), investing a good portion of my savings into the branding and upcoming events. I think the rapid growth of it all has been a blessing and a challenge for me. Doing it all on my own and trying to find dedicated people who will for now have to donate their time and efforts to making sure it all works out. It’s rough sometimes, but all in all it’s a very rewarding job! How do you find local talents to showcase? Facebook music groups have been a real gem, but I also browse through local music blogs often, go to shows and scout, and then there’s good ol’ word of mouth. Once people know what you’re looking for, there is no shortage of talent that comes through! Is there anything you would do differently now that you’ve established #WomenCrush? I only wish I would have started this years ago. But there’s no point in looking on the past, onwards and upwards! 24


What are you most proud of from the creation of #WomenCrush? My proudest moment happens at the showcases every month when I hear artists who have never met before introducing themselves and cheering the other ones on. Creating future collaborations and seeing them happen right before my eyes! And artists who shout me out at the end of their set and thank me, know that I always shed a tear or two when they do. It means so much to hear that people support this!

What has been the most rewarding aspect of your career thus far? With both #WomenCrush and your music career? Meeting so many awesome people! I’ve never been one to have many friends—up until a year ago, I felt like I was a closed book, but it really is amazing to be able to share all of my stories with everyone who I meet now! I think it’s important to have friends you can learn from and if I can share some wisdom with other ladies who are doing what I’m doing? That just makes my days a little bit brighter.

What’s your ultimate goal for #WomenCrush? I want everyone who is (and wants to be) in the music scene to know about #WomenCrush and what we do, which ultimately is promoting women in music. Through showcases, events, workshops, or even just being a part of our FB community page, we will offer opportunities to help artists and industry professionals alike! The more people who know about it and support us, the more people we can help.

What have you discovered about yourself through the process of both your music career and #WomenCrush? I don’t like taking “no” for an answer, and if people don’t say “thank you”, I’m very easily offended. Both of those things are probably obnoxious, but that’s what I’ve learned and I’m dealing with it as best as I can!

What would you have done if #WomenCrush was available to you when starting your music career? I would have developed confidence sooner. It wasn’t until I found my real tribe in the music scene in NYC and now in Portland that I was really able to get into doing shows, photoshoots, co-writing sessions, and recording. #WomenCrush helps build those relationships that will inspire you, support you, and help you thrive! Where do you draw inspiration from for your own music? All of the feelings. Whether it’s anger, or sadness, or love, frustration, anything! One of the most important lessons I’ve learned lately is that whatever you are feeling is okay. Most times, even at your lowest point, you need to accept where you’re at, write a song about it, and then move forward. Definitely sounds easier than it is but thankfully no one is rushing anyone. Are you passionate about other issues aside from feminism? I’m the daughter of a Mexican immigrant, sister of someone who suffers from mental illness. That being said, I believe everyone should be treated with respect and love. The end.


In regards to your music, do you have any specific artists that inspire you? I definitely go through phases but I have a lot of admiration for Alicia Keys, Joss Stone, and Lady Gaga. As songwriters, singers, and people, they blow me away! Where do you see yourself and #WomenCrush in 5 years? I see myself leading an international team of extraordinary women changing the industry, one event at a time. Do you have any advice you would give to artists just starting their careers? Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and when you do, ask questions. Are there other organizations or resources like #WomenCrush that you feel people should know about? Shout out to these Facebook groups that have been amazing to be a part of: Music Biz Besties Girls Behind the Rock Show Other Sites: Women In Music email list, Play Like a Girl Waffles or pancakes? Waffles! With maple syrup and sometimes almond butter.


Alyesha Wise Story by Rhiannon Levengood Illustrations by Alex Luu THE BUZZ OF A COFFEE SHOP IS WHERE Alyesha Wise finds creative comfort. A warm sip of tea and she’s at it again, pen scratching, words crashing like ocean waves onto the paper shores of a notebook. A poem forms in its wake. A poem for love, for her mother, for her siblings, for her cousin, for Prince and the snow he left behind in April 2016. She writes for her rights as a black woman in an unjust world. She writes for her fellow women and gives them a voice when they can’t find their own. And she does it all with the bright smile of a child she once was. Alyesha Wise grew up in Camden, New Jersey, where she experienced enough heartache to last her a lifetime. She began writing poetry at the young age of eleven, drawing inspiration from the film Poetic 28

Justice. She shares, “I was in awe of the beauty and grace of Janet Jackson and, therefore, fell in love with the poetry that she spoke in the movie (written by Maya Angelou). I wrote my first poem that day and haven’t stopped writing since.” While poetry is primarily written or spoken word, Wise explains that sometimes she can hear the melody of a poem before the words come to her, and that sometimes she can visualize her poems as “colors and emotions” before writing it. She attributes this to the strong influence she receives from music. She doesn’t always conquer a blank canvas with ease, though, so when she experiences a halt in her creative flow, she writes all of her unimaginative thoughts down on paper to rework into beautiful stanzas later on.

Those bits of thoughts and feelings have come together in Wise’s debut poetry compilation Carnival, which was released in March 2017. She takes us on an emotional journey through the deaths of loved ones, the inequality she and others are faced with, and the very personal experiences she herself has overcome. The poems are elegantly candid, vulnerable, and mentally stimulating. She opens up a world uncharted by the majority of America and educates through sentiment. The vulnerability of her poetry comes intentionally, even when wearing her soul on her sleeve is sometimes difficult. Her friends and family now have access to her private allegories, and the public can now have their own perspectives of her family. She states in response, “I create so that we can come face-to-face with the uncomfortable and discover who we really are—at least that’s one big reason why I write. It hasn’t been the easiest releasing some of these stories and poems, but it hasn’t been hard either. I’ve had some interesting, but necessary and healing conversations with family, post the book being published. But not enough. I actually wish they’d ask me more.” If Alyesha had to pick a favorite poem from Carnival, it would be “Plucked Fruit.” She tells us, “I have this weird obsession with death I can’t explain. I’m pretty sure that what I wrote about in this poem has shaped, and continues to shape, much of my life. I also feel like I’m paying homage to lots of my ancestors and lost ones in this piece.” Carnival is available for purchase and we can look forward to a second book out in the near future! Alyesha’s career doesn’t only consist of writing and performing poetry. She hosts workshops in Los Angeles where she teaches poetry as an artform to students of all ages, from kindergartners, to high schoolers and college kids, to elders. In her words, “What you can usually expect though, no matter the workshop, is interaction or participation. I don’t want to just lecture you, tell you to write poems, then don’t engage you in any way. I want to ask questions, open up, dive in, leave knowing a little more about ourselves as people or writers. I also like to smile and laugh during my workshops because that’s nice, too.” Her students encourage her to pursue her dreams the most. When she’s reminded of the impact she has on their lives, she expresses that she has “no choice but to continue being that leader and to get better than [she] was the day before.” Among her students, her other influences include her friends Milly, Shihan, and

Greg Corbin, and her life partner Matthew Hernandez. The most challenging aspect of her career so far has been her comfort in taking more risks, but her continuous efforts have brought her the most rewarding part, which is the joy and inspiration she receives from her students and her family. Alyesha advises aspiring poets to, “Read a lot. Be inspired by other work. Don’t try to be like other work. Find your own voice. Take risks. Keep going.”

A little more about alyesha... MOST READ POETS: Audre Lorde and Jeffrey McDaniel RECOMMENDED POEMS: “What It’s Like to Be a Black Girl (for those of you that aren’t)” by Patricia Smith, “The Quiet World” by Jeffrey McDaniel, “Invictus” by William Ernest, and “Power” by Audre Lorde WAFFLES OR PANCAKES: “Waffles, because you can eat them with chicken. And I just bought a waffle maker. And cinnamon.


BOOKCON 2017 Featuring Chad Michael Murray, Bill Nye, Adam Silvera, Leigh Bardugo, Jenny Han, R.J. Palacio, Stephen Chbosky, Nicola Yoon, and several more.

Photos by Paula Araujo





Photos byRachel Meyers


Her Conference

Featuring keynotes by Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour of the Women’s March National Co-Chairs, Lisa Sugar Founder of PopSugar, actress Troian Bellisaro, Gretchen Carlson, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh Founder & Editor-in-Chief of MuslimGirl.com, and actress Aja Naomi King.


Photos by Paula Araujo


Profile for Moments Magazine

Moments Magazine: Issue #3  

Women Crush Issue Featuring: Kendal Conrad, Katie Zaccardi, Jackie Paladino, Kiistin Marilyn, Ashley Kervabon, Alyesha Wise, BookCon 2017,...

Moments Magazine: Issue #3  

Women Crush Issue Featuring: Kendal Conrad, Katie Zaccardi, Jackie Paladino, Kiistin Marilyn, Ashley Kervabon, Alyesha Wise, BookCon 2017,...


Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded