AS someone who experienced "physical trauma", Toya J never played the victim. Rather, she encourages women with a similar background to take a stand for themselves and their sisters in grief.
The brash poet holds nothing back in Bold Soul-Searching Monologues (BSSM), her third book, released in August by her company, Bold Flamingo Publishing. It contains pieces aimed at soothing and empowering persons darkened by their situation.
"Sharing the contents of BSSM is also geared at helping women to acknowledge the significance of deepening their relationship first with themselves, which will ultimately increase the likelihood of having a positive relationship and/or the way they engage with other women and men," Toya J said in a recent interview with the Jamaica Observer.
This is the St Ann-born writer's third literary effort in as many years. Her first was Bold Her Liberation while Tease followed last year.
Based in New York, Toya J says her confidence has grown with each book. Feeding off the energy of audiences at events like Voice Out Jams in The Bronx and Awesome in Brooklyn, where she has read, has also helped.
Born Marie Dunn, she has lived in the United States for over 25 years, earning degrees in English literature (from Mercy College) and social work (from Fordham University). The past five years has seen her focus on poetry, a form she loved since her youth in Jamaica.
While not going into detail about the disturbing experience that inspired her books, Toya J believes it is important to share what led to her rebirth.
"Understand that, in the end, pain and humiliation are both essential for psychological, financial, and physical growth. We are not our past; we need our history to be grateful for the present and to embrace our future selves," she said. "It is hard enough being a woman, but what's more difficult is when we consistently entertain those negative behaviours that perpetuate our trauma. I want women to take back control and heal themselves first. I want women to give themselves permission to become their authentic selves. Now, that is my why for the contents of my BOLD series."