Malanda Jean-Claude is a writer who believes creativity fuels true happiness. With a strong social media presence (over 72,000 Instagram followers and over 51,000 followers on Twitter), it’s safe to say that others wholeheartedly agree. His supporters received his debut, Because of a Woman, with open arms, rocketing it to #1 in iTunes’ poetry section. This mysterious artist took time out to chat about his debut, masculinity in our culture, and why women are so inspiring.
Because of a Woman is a book of poetry about the transition from boyhood to manhood. And though it’s slated toward masculinity, I believe both genders can relate as it also touches on finding and remembering ourselves. This is a story about what we all are going through.
It also takes on traditional gender roles and the baggage that comes with them, especially emotionally. For example, in this society men aren’t encouraged to show their emotions because it is considered weak. But when women show too much emotion, it’s also considered weak. This book challenges the idea that men can’t be vulnerable and masculine.
2. Did you always know you were a writer? If not, when did you realize it?
I didn’t always know I was writer, but I knew I was expressive. I soon realized that I express myself better when I write, and from there it became the main channel I used. I shared my first poem at 17 years-old in high school. Everyone listening had an immediate reaction to my words and the energy in the room changed. That was powerful. It was then that I thought, “Huh, I can actually do this.”
3. What kind of influence do women have on you and what woman do you find most inspiring?
I learned everything about being a man from women. It’s in understanding the opposite gender that strengthens my understanding of who I am and my masculinity. I have the biggest respect for women. Plus, I have five sisters, so I can’t escape them. I’ve learned from observation. Women give you the most honest lessons.
My mother is the most inspiring woman in my life because she’s very creative as well as the glue that keeps our family together. I see her as an artist.
4. You self-published your debut. Why did you choose self-publishing over traditional publishing? What were the biggest benefits and challenges that came with self-publishing?
I was not going to assimilate into a system (traditional publishing) that would want to put me in a box. The biggest challenge was doing so much by myself. If you’re self-publishing, you literally have to learn everything from scratch. I didn’t have a mentor. I had to do the research and make both physical and mental sacrifices to get my book out there. The greatest benefit has been connecting so much to the art and the people who support my work.
5. What’s next for you?
I’m about to go on a book tour to see what came out of those nights I didn’t sleep while working on Because of a Woman. I also want to connect with everyone that supports me.
Find an excerpt from page 160 of Because of a Woman below:
“i heard marvin gaye playing in the living room as i was getting dressed but to no surprise, our hearts had grown out of a speaker box. the radio was a poor man’s invention with a sprinkle of soul food when tongues grew empty next to dinner plates. we lived in a middle class neighborhood and police sirens. heard everything from morning traffic to neighbors fighting and nothing got past us. nobody could afford thicker walls, but we lived. survived off secondhand conversations and communal strength. as you get older, you realize what weight childhood must’ve been for you. exposed early to adult conversations and curiosity stuck to the roof of unheard prayers, but it made you pay more attention.”
Keep up with Malanda via Twitter: @overlyxclusiveand
Vibe out to his spoken word pieces via soundcloud.