• MJ Fievre

Salty Consonants

The Haitian Times picked up a story about an excerpt of a poem of mine that appeared on Unbranded Brewing’s Salty Consonants beer! The poem was selected by O, Miami as part of O, Miami’s month-long celebration of poetry.


Beer is good, but beer would be better with poems on the labels of the cans!


After the brewers developed a small batch, O, Miami designed the beer label with the poem:


in Miami, almost everyone’s English has warm vowels like sun-drenched, sandy washboard roads, and sharp, salty consonants like queso blanco, swordfish, or tortilla chip


I was inspired by the Miami people and places that surround me every day. Miami has so many different cultures coming together in one small part of the world, with a variety of delicious foods and delightful music at every corner. You hear English, Spanish, Creole and more when you walk down the city's streets. You smell an amalgamation of different spices, along with the salt from the ocean air. This stanza depicts the sounds of different voices as you make your way through the city, the tastes and scents, and all the subtle characteristics that make up the environment. It describes the wonderful diversity you become immersed in once you come to the city of Miami.



The poem defines a hot day in Miami. And in that kind of heat, on a humid day teeming with people, sweat, and various smells, a beer is the perfect companion; it’s cooling and refreshing. Miami is known for its beaches, and food and drinks (particularly beer!) remain at the center of the city’s party life, with a myriad of experiences for the senses––something I tried to capture with these words: salty consonants like queso blanco. The poem describes Miami’s people and scents in such a way that the scene comes alive for you.


P. Scott Cunningham had this to say about the poem: “We were looking for something that spoke to flavors and food but that’s also regional and spoke to Miami. When we came across that poem we were like ‘Oh, this is perfect, that’s everything we’re looking for.'"




O, Miami was looking for a Miami poem that could easily lead to opening and drinking a refreshing beer. This excerpt perfectly connects with this experience, describing a day in the sun, when you may be out with others, enjoying Miami foods and drinks. There’s a myriad of accents creating a hum in the heat. You open a beer, and its coolness is refreshing. O, Miami believed that the words in this excerpt came together beautifully and really set the scene.


The excerpt that Unbranded Brewing is using was part of my book, Happy, Okay? It’s a perfect time for a beer, too. Miami is getting hot, and there may be no better way to cool off than with a cold brew.


The Haitian Times' article also mentions some other work I’ve done for O, Miami this year, such as translating poems in Creole as part of their project “This City is.” And they gave a shoutout to Fabienne Josaphat, a good friend and fellow Haitian writer, who has also done some translations for O, Miami and participated in past events with them. You can check out the projects O, Miami put together this year here.


I’m thrilled! I’ve been writing and publishing for a long time, sharing intimate life experiences with others. Yet, the thought never crossed my mind that my poetry would make its appearance on a beer can. It’s just one of those funny, unexpected moments in life, and I’m happy to share my words. There is so much that can be shared through poetry! Hopefully, this excerpt will bring some inspiration to those who read it.




Most writers' work can be found in magazines, blogs, interviews, etc., but very rarely on a drink. Thanks to O, Miami, my poetry has been shared through non-traditional mediums before (on a store window and inside a city bus, for example), but never on a label, and never with the kind of intimacy that comes from drinking a beer. My words will reach people for as long as this beer is in production and that is amazing. Who knows how long my words will circulate around Miami and, thanks to social media, around the world?



What’s next? In addition to poetry, I write empowerment books for young people, helping Black girls in particular bring positivity and joy to their lives. I am currently working on expanding my award-winning Badass Black Girl book series, which currently includes Badass Black Girl and Empowered Black Girl. My career spans over many years in publishing, teaching, building a community and sharing my voice; I will continue to join my voice with others in the public space. I’m receptive to opportunities that continue to come to the forefront, and I’m excited to see what will happen next. Follow me on Instagram: @badassblackgirlbooks


Kenbe,

MJ


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A creator of safe spaces, and an initiator of difficult conversations, M.J. Fievre, B.S. Ed, spent much time building up her Black students, helping them feel comfortable in their skin, and affirming their identities. Her close relationships with parents and students led her to look more closely at how we can balance protecting our child’s innocence with preparing them for the realities of Black life. When―and how―do you approach racism with your children? How do you protect their physical and mental health while also preparing them for a country full of systemic racism? She began to research the issue and speak to school counselors and psychologists to find (and apply!) strategies parents and teachers can use with their children to broach uncomfortable but necessary topics.



M.J. is the author of Badass Black Girl, a daily dose of affirmations for Black Girls.


“You'll come away from Badass Black Girl feeling as if you've known the author your entire life, and it's a rare feat for any writer.” ―“Mike, the Poet,” author of Dear Woman and The Boyfriend Book


#1 Gift Idea in Teen & Young Adult Cultural Heritage Biographies, Publishers Weekly Select Title for Young Readers.


Affirmations for strong, fearless Black girls. Wisdom from Badass Black female trailblazers who accomplished remarkable things in literature, entertainment, education, STEM, business, military and government services, politics and law, activism, sports, spirituality, and more.


Explore the many facets of your identity through hundreds of big and small questions. In this journal designed for teenage Black girls, MJ Fievre tackles topics such as family and friends, school and careers, body image, and stereotypes. By reflecting on these topics, you will confront the issues that can hold you back from living your best life and discovering your Black girl bliss.


Embrace authenticity and celebrate who you are. Finding the courage to live as you are is not easy, so here’s a journal designed to help you nurture creativity, positive self-awareness and Black girl bliss. This journal honors the strength and spirit of Black girls.


Change the way you view the world. This journal provides words of encouragement that seek to inspire and ignite discussion. You are growing up in a world that tries to tell you how to look and act. MJ Fievre encourages you to fight the flow and determine for yourself who you want to be.



Badass Black Girl helps you to:

  • Build and boost your self-esteem with powerful affirmations

  • Learn more about yourself through insightful journaling

  • Become comfortable and confident in your authentic self