She Was But, I Am: Notice Me With Poetry

My name is TyAsia Nicholson. I am a parent, an after-school educator, a behavior technician who works one-on-one with non-verbal children who have autism, a parent advocate with CSSP’s Youth Power Parent Power Initiative, the creator of Meet the Curlys ( a family engagement blog site), and a published writer. You can now call me Thunda Love, a self-publishing poet. In December 2023, I published my first poetry book, She Was But, I Am: Notice Me With Poetry”. This poetry book is a collection of 30 poems I have written throughout the 30 years of my life. I published this book in honor of my 30th birthday. I set a goal of wanting to publish my poetry book, and I achieved it!

“She Was But, I Am” explores different topics such as injustice, trauma, romance, family bonds, self-transformation, and resilience. One of my favorite poems from the book is Under My Skin, a poem about racial injustice and advocacy.  I also enjoyed writing Phenomenal Maya, a poem inspired by Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Woman about self-empowerment and purpose. Okay is a poem about relationship building and boundaries, and lastly Maybe the Last Poem is about grief, acceptance, and love.  One of the poems, Law School Doesn’t Teach You This, was published in the National Association of Counsel for Children’s Fall 2021 law journal.

I started writing poetry in 2nd grade when I was introduced to haiku forms of poetry. I struggled with reading and math, but I loved writing. Writing poetry helped me normalize being vulnerable through different expressions and different tones. I also grew up reading a lot of Dr. Seuss’s books, so I loved rhyming words; this led me to rap music, where I fell in love with the wordplay of artists like 2 Pac and Lil Wayne. 

The process of self-publishing was overwhelming but rewarding, knowing that I followed through with a goal I set for myself. It was challenging to find discipline and keep myself accountable to my goals. I kept overthinking. Is this the right time? What poems do I pick to publish, there are so many.  Will people care about what I have to say? Can I make a career off of being an author? Where do I start? Why am I doing this? These are a few of the many questions that ran through my mind before pushing that publish button.  

Over the past few years, I have experienced multiple errors, changing the book cover over and over, picking different fonts, understanding sizing, and more. One thing I didn’t second guess was the title; I was certain about the title. My mother passed away when I was 3 years old, so for all of my life I heard: she was this, she was that, she did this, she did that, and not at all in the best light. As I got older and understood my identity and who I AM, the title had to be She Was But, I Am. The play on words for She Was But, I Am can be interpreted in multiple ways. Audience members can think of the title in reference to highlighting how people remembered my mom and now as her daughter the legacy I am creating. Another way to interpret the title is to follow my coming-of-age story and how I transformed from my childhood to adulthood.  My poetry name is Thunda Love because the sound of thunder brings attention to anyone at any time it strikes. Love is my father’s, my little brother’s, and my nephew’s first name, and it is also my son’s middle name. It made sense to keep the love going in memory of my father.