• joshuapsalms

Failures As Lessons

"...from my observations, poetry/spoken word as an art form has been relegated to hobby. A lot of poets have been left to hunt for random open mic nights and poetry readings, and inquire about getting a time slot to perform. To truly achieve any level of success, most poets have to establish their own platform and/or collaborate with other poets to build interest in the art. Even with that, the art form will still be regarded as a hobby, which is why I refer to it as a 'grinder's art'..."

- Joshua Psalms (Yours Truly)

A year ago I entered my latest work, Poetic Thoughts Vol 2: Introspection, into the 27th Annual Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards. A grand prize of $8,000.00 was up for grabs. I embraced my inner Steph Curry (NBA player), took my shot from the half court line and I hit...nothing but air. As the title of this blog suggests, I didn't win the grand prize (that $8K would've been appreciated). The competition even included a 2nd place prize, best book of poetry category, and an honorable mentions section. I struck out on those as well, so naturally I felt a little upset about how things turned out. Even though I didn't win, everything wasn't as gloomy as I thought it to be.

As part of the agreement of the competition, judges would try to their best to provide a brief review of each book submitted (at their discretion). Their review of my work was short, but provided key points I needed to push forward. As you'll see in the full review below, a few areas of improvement were identified that I need to work on. Willingness to improve was the major key from this endeavor, and that is what I offer up to you. Whatever you're vision is (and the associated goals), be willing to improve if you don't receive the results you want the first time. The airplane wasn't built in a day, and most businesses fail in the first 2-4 years. Failure doesn't mean that pursuit isn't your calling (in some cases); nor does it mean you lack dedication. It may simply signal a necessary change in your approach or strategy. Whatever God has for you, don't grow weary because it hasn't manifested yet. Keep going; the results are worth the work.

Grace and Peace.


Judge, 27th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards

Poetic Thoughts Vol 2: Introspection

Structure, Organization, and Pacing 3

Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 4

Production Quality and Cover Design: 4

Plot and Story Appeal:  0

Character Appeal and Development: 0

Voice and Writing Style: 4

Evaluation metrics:

- Books are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “needs improvement” and 5 meaning “outstanding”.

- The 1-5 scale is strictly to provide a point of reference; the scores are meant only to be a gauge, and are not a cumulative score, nor are they tallied or used in ranking.

- A "0" is not a negative score. Our online review system only recognizes numerals during this portion of logging evaluations. As a result, we've substituted a “0” in place of “N/A” when the particular portion of the evaluation simply does not apply to the particular entry, based on the entry genre. For example, a book of poetry, a cookbook, or a travel guide would not necessarily have a “Plot and Story Appeal, and may therefore receive a “0” - indicating that the rating was not applicable.


"In Joshua B. Young's Poetic Thoughts Volume 2: Introspection, he shares poems based on his Christian walk through life, including praise and worship, love and wonder.

Section one includes moments of prayer that Christians can take with them daily. Section two titled "The Belly of the Beast" describes evil and wickedness that some humans do toward others, including a poem called "Pure Hatred". As one continues, he discusses struggles and words of martyrs that his intended audience (Christians) will related to, such as the erotic stronghold that hurts society, (e.g. Sex Trafficking) and hypocrisy people face. By the end, there is hope and he relates it through several readings and poems to end this book on a high note.

As for the audience, it is definitely Christian, though other denominations and audiences may read, if so inclined. The book's design definitely welcomes its Christian audience by showing a guy walking the walk with an angel above him. I guess the point of this book is to garner understanding for the struggles those in the religion face.

In conclusion, some of the discussions and poems work as text outside of religious teachings and I can see this book in several places of worship."

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