Hey guys, I had the pleasure of interviewing the illustrious, dope, and all things black girl magic Krystal Kantrell, author or "Grimoire of a Black Girl". Listen as chat about her book, HBCU experience, and so much more. Here's a bit about Krystal:
Krystal Kantrell is a poet from Waynesboro, GA. She is a daughter, a sister, and a friend to many. She enjoys and has a passion for reading, writing, and Cinnabons. She has been writing all her life, but decided to get serious shortly after Trayvon Martin was murdered. She gets her inspiration and hope from black people. Their lives and sometimes untimely deaths influence the emotion in her work. She has learned through first hand experience that black folk are precious and they embody resistance. Anything influenced by them is then, a form of resistance. She hopes that her poetry is as beautiful, as loving, and just as powerful as the people who inspire it.
Kay of Kay's Corner | Do Better, Sis Podcast: Thanks for listening to the Do Better, Sis Podcast first episode of Kay's Corner. I have a special treat for you guys, the lovely Krystal who wrote the book entitled "Grimoire of A Black Girl", a book of poetry. We're going to get into this and this is definitely something you should checkout. Krys, hope you're doing great, thank you for taking the time to chat with us and the people today. We definitely appreciate you. We like to start the show with a music reference and my understanding is that you were a part of the South Carolina State Marching Band, so do you still play an instrument? What's your favorite type of music or person to listen to right now right now?
Krystal "Krys" Kantrell: I was, I marched for four years. I don't still play, but am trying to get back into it as soon as I can. Lately, I've been listening to a lot of Janelle Monae. Her new stuff is amazing. And I've been listening to HER (H.E.R), she's amazing too. That's what's in rotation right now.
Kay: Alright, that's a good bit of music. So give us the background on Krys Kantrell. So, to start I guess where are you originally from?
Krys: I'm originally from Burke County, Georgia; a little town called Waynesboro. We used to have a Walmart. Well, when I was growing up we didn't have a Walmart. We probably had two stores, it was pretty small. I kind of grew up in the country a bit.
Kay: There's nothing wrong with that, me myself, my family is something very similar. They don't have a Walmart. There's nothing wrong with a small town. So, you go to high school locally in Georgia, you graduate. How do you get to South Carolina State from Georgia?
Krys: My mom. My mom graduated from South Carolina State. My mom's side of family is from Cottageville, South Carolina and she had South Carolina State in my mind, since I was a child. I remember in fifth grade she asked what school I was going to and I said South Carolina State. It's been the same every since, all throughout high school.
Kay: I see, so that was always your first choice.
Krys: Yep, always was.
Kay: Shout out to South Carolina State Bulldogs in Orangeburg, South Carolina. I have plenty of family that have gone to both SC State and Claflin. Shout outs to them. What was your major?
Krys: It was Political Science. I don't really use it right now, but I liked it when I was there.
Kay: I totally understand that my background is in education, so go figure. (Laughs) I totally understand that. So you go to South Carolina State, did you find it difficult, like a difficult transition coming from a small town in Georgia to South Carolina State?
Krys: For me it kind of was in the beginning, because I'm a really quiet reserved person. So when I first got there and started band camp and that was when I was kind of struggling with the group thing, and I was kind of a loner. After that first week I didn't have a choice (chuckle). It kind of just opened up for me after then.
Kay: That's interesting. I'm assuming you did well in academics, did you have any. Hold up let me back up a little bit. I want to clear it up for those who are not aware. South Carolina State is a historically black college/university, HBCU, in Orangeburg, South Carolina. It is home to one of the awesome-ist um marching bands as well as an array of very talented and educated brown and black people. So, we definitely have a big piece of our heart is for SC State. Speaking of current events, you know Beyonce at Coachella, you know the HBCUs love their band. Me, myself you know I didn't go to an HBCU. I mean, I went to college, just not an HBCU but I have a lot of friends and family who attended or are currently attending. I guess my question for that, pertaining to an HBCU what do you think? You know this is our opinion. What for you in the experience was different for you attending an HBCU instead of a PWI or predominately white college or university?
Krys: I feel like you wouldn't get the culture. It's almost like an openness, you're immediately accepted. the second you step on campus, it feels like home. I don't get that feeling. Any HBCU I've been to, it still feels the same. You know, the same spirit.
Kay: That's a good answer. And again, I didn't go to an HBCU, I did the sorority thing and when we would go to other campuses, you do feel that. That makes sense.
Krys: I'm pretty sure that's adrenaline. I told you my mom told me about State. My senior year I went to homecoming and it was awesome, that solidified it for me.
Kay: I bet that was awesome, going to homecoming and looking out into the crowd and you're like awwww, I mean it's like and probably felt like Wakonda Forever moment. (Laughs)
Krys: Yea, that's exactly what it felt like.
Kay: Shout out to Black Panther, we still love that movie.
Kay: How many times have you seen the movie?
Krys: Um, I think like four times.
Kay: Yea, (laughs) I think each of us went to see it at least three or four times. I'm telling you...
Krys: It was just the best feeling. I'm telling you.
Kay: Is it safe to say in your opinion, going to an HBCU, you really had an enriched educational experience?
Krys: Yes, I would say that.
Kay: Okay, so you were on the marching band, you graduate, and you decide to write a book...So state you major again for the audience.
Krys: Political Science
Kay: So you graduate from South Carolina State with a degree in Political Science and how long ago did you graduate?
Krys: Uh, this is the sixth year. Yes, the sixth year I believe. I had to think about it, but yes six years sounds about right.
Kay: So you get out, it's been six years since the time you've graduated with a degree in Political Science and you decide to write a book?
Kay: We want to know, the people want to know...you know this happens you go to college, get a degree and many people don't use the degree that they are forever in debt for. I'm not making fun, but you know how it is. I mean, I just spoke to my spirit.
Kay: Um, (laughs) Again, I'm not making fun. What I'm asking for is the blueprint from a degree in Political Science to a book of poetry for black women. How did we get there? Take us there.
Krys: That's a great question (chuckles). Um, well at State when I was a Political Science major I attended this conference that dealt with a lot of social justice issues. I'm not sure if you remember Troy Davis in Savannah, he had gotten the death penalty. In that case a lot of the eye witnesses recanted or it was something where they shouldn't have executed him but they went ahead and executed him. And that moment kind of woke me up, that was my junior or senior year at State and I had been writing already. You know like little things. It kind of. like made me more aware of what was going on. I wanted to write more about things that were going on around and affected me and others as well.
Kay: Now, with poetry had you, how long have you been writing poetry, not necessarily with the book but poetry in general?
Krys: Um, I think I started around 2000, so maybe eight or nine years. I've been working it for eight or nine years but it wasn't really as developed as it is now.
Kay: So did you start with written poetry and I'm asking this for a reason. Did you start with written or was it more of a spoken word type of thing?
Krys: Um, I started writing. I don't really do spoken word, I'm pretty shy. Does that answer your question? (laughs)
Kay: It does but it now gives me more questions because I've read the most of the poems and I'm not going to give the book away, we're going to drop the details on the book in a moment. But for example, the very first poem that I come to, which really caught my attention. It's called, 'Black People', I was like wow. Like the cadences very much sound like spoken word that just so happens to be written down. So that's why I asked. So the name of the book you guys is called, "Grimoire of a Black Girl" and it is by Krystal Kantrell. You can Google it. It is Google-able. I'll give you details about where to find it after we finish. So let's talk about this journey into book publishing. So um, is the book self published?
Krys: Um, well I actually reached out to...it's actually a funny story. The week before I reached out to the girl who actually published my book. She has a company called, BlackGold Publishing, so I didn't self publish my book. So the week before someone shared a post from a girl saying she had started her own company and she was like, this is what I always wanted. I didn't want to do it all by myself. We worked out. Reached out to her on Facebook and it took about two months after I reached out to her.
Kay: Wow, two months?
Krys: Yes, two months because I already had most of the poems to put in there.
Kay: I'm telling you, two months is good! Wow! So what's the name of the publishing company again?
Krys: It's called BlackGold Publishing, BlackGold is one word.
Kay: Yes, I'm looking at them on the back here. Gonna definitely have to check them out. So two months, you already had your material. You reached out to BlackGold Publishing and the book is published. Had it done well, Krystal?
Krys: I think it has done pretty well. I feel like I haven't been pushing it like I should. I told you I'm pretty reserved and it's hard to kind of hard to push something that's like a part of you that you're not used to sharing. I think it's done pretty well. I've gotten good reviews.
Kay: I definitely need to do a review. I'm telling you being a black girl myself, who likes to write. I haven't done alot of it recently. I remember being in high school and college and having that urge to write, you know just to put it on paper first. Sometimes you know that can be very therapeutic, ;just to get it on paper and out of your mind.
Krys: It is, that's exactly what it was for me. Therapeutic. I'm hoping it does the same thing for others as it was for me.
Kay: Okay, so in two months we've gotten the book out and it's circulating and doing pretty decent. Any plans to put out a volume two?
Krys: I am. I'm not sure when it is going to come, but I am definitely working on it.
Kay: Yes, we're definitely cannot be the end. I see great things in your future. Is writing the only creative talent that you have other than music?
Krys: Um, yea.
Kay: We like to write. Earlier you mentioned, about being a naturally shy and it is difficult to share especially something taht you didn't intend to share. Talk to the people about it, because I'm like that myself. We're not alone. It's creatives out there who do music, craft, or they build as a means of therapy. Not necessarily thinking, I want to share this with people and then there's a trigger or something and you release your creative work into the world. Did you find it very difficult to have that release?
Krys: I guess, not really.
Kay: You know sometimes when you're writing it down. Sometimes when you're writing it down it could stem from a personal experience. For that moment, you're writing this for yourself and you accumulate them over a period of time and you did't intentionally write this for anyone else to read? Was that a difficult thing to go back and look at the work, even those it wasn't meant for public consumption per se, I have this opportunity and I'm just going to do it.
Krys: I get it. It was difficult at first, but how we were talkign about writing being therapy and you think about how it helped you. I think as a creative, you kind of want to help others. The way I help myself is through writing, and I figure if it helped me with the way it's been doing. I figured I might be able to help other people by sharing what helped me, it became less difficult.
Kay: I hear that alot from creatives. We are our worse critics. You look and you say, umm maybe I shouldn't put this out. It doesn't sound right if I don't put it back. You know that makes sense though.
Krys: Yea, sometimes you just have to put it out there. You know what happens, happens. (chuckles) You have to be open with it. It is hard.
Kay: Yes, me myself and the ladies of the Do Better, Sis Podcast are really enjoying the book. We are speaking with the illustrious author Ms. Krys Kantrell. So, we've talked about growing up, school and your HBCU experience, we've talked about the difficultness of releasing your creative and your words into the public to see what kind of feedback you're going to get. So the next question is what is next with you? Do we have any events coming up?
Krys: I have a reading scheduled for May 17th, this will be my second time. But I'm reading at a bookstore called Charis Books & More in Atlanta. It's one of the oldest feminists independent bookstores in the country. That's what I have next. I'm really excited about it and hopefully you guys can come out.
Kay: Alright for any of our listeners who are in the Atlanta area, we have a reading at Charis Books & More in Atlanta, Georgia May 17th at 7pm. So congratulations on that. We might have to slide through to check out the book reading. If people wish to find out more about you, where can they find you on social media?
Krys: You can find me on Twitter at Kryskrossed. That's k, r, y, s, k, r, o, s, s, e, d. On Facebook it is Krys Kantrell.
Kay: Krystal, we definitely thank you for joining us today and telling the people all about you and your book, "Grimoire of a Black Girl". We will definitely be supporting you and spreading the word about all that you have to come.
Read the extension of our podcast as hosts, Charli, Kay and Phoenix write about issues concerning woc simply because when you know better, you'd do better. Do better, sis.