#poetry, blog, DailyFix, poemoftheday, musings,

In Honour of Poet and Playwright Ntozake Shange:

i found god in myself quote

A couple of weeks ago, the world of poetry lost one of its heroes. Ntozake Shange, an American playwright and poet who addressed issues relating to race and feminism and a voice that will forever be unforgettable, gave us one of the most visceral and heart-wrenching collections of poetry I’ve ever read. For Colored Girls (who have considered suicide /when the rainbow is enuf ) has in turn inspired countless other writers, particularly of colour, and set the bar for what you can do with this art form.

I was first introduced to her work through the highly-acclaimed (and somewhat unexpected?) Tyler Perry film (For Colored Girls) by a dear friend and it is still, to date, one of the most disturbing but necessary films I have ever watched; and a sincerely loved collection which now sits at the top of my TBR pile once again.

For Colored Girls was Ntozake Shange’s first work and she premiered it to high acclaim as a theater piece, though it has now been widely shown both on stage and on the screen.

A bold, heart-breaking, humorous, and thoroughly human and unapologetic exploration of black womanhood and feminism in general, there is not a single part of this collection that doesn’t touch you in some way. I still to this day have moments where I flash back to that scene in the film (seriously, watch the film!), smile at my favourite line (I found God in myself/ and I loved her fiercely–read the collection!) and laugh when I remember the dancing in the play (if you ever get a chance to see it staged! DO!).

All this to say, Ntozake Shange changed the game for many and her presence will surely continue to be felt. Rest in peace, Ms. Ntozake Shange. You articulated so much that had been unsaid for so many and we can only thank you for your words.

Ntozake Shange
Photo: Frank Stewart.
#poetry, blog, DailyFix, poemoftheday, musings,

‘Everyday Something Has Tried to Kill Me…’

 

 

black woman 3It’s Black History Month in the UK! A month to celebrate, educate, uphold and cheer on the fact that black lives and black history matters. This whole month, many are celebrating all things about black history and I couldn’t let the chance pass me by to share some of my favourite poems from black men and women! This particular poem by Lucille Clifton felt, to me, like a wonderful place to start.

Won’t you celebrate with me
Lucille Clifton

Won’t you celebrate with me 
what i have shaped
into 
a kind of life?
I had no model.
B
orn in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
I made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding
tight my other hand;
come celebrate 
with me
that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed. 

As a black woman in the UK and a black immigrant, this poem is one of my favourites to reach for again and again. It is a declaration. A celebration. An acknowledgement that despite of everything black men and women face in their lives every day, they are living and thriving and we should absolutely shout to the rooftops for that.

Happy #BlackHistoryMonth, friends.

#poetry, blog, DailyFix, poemoftheday, musings,

Love After Love ~Derek Walcott

amazing-animal-beautiful-beautifullToday is World Suicide Prevention Day and a day to raise awareness on this issue. Whilst there are many poets and poems that have addressed this issue, I came across Derek Walcott’s Love After Love and was struck by how much hope it spoke — at least to me. The message and idea that this too shall or may pass, that somewhere down the line, it is possible to reach a place where one can see life with a better lens.

This aside, mental health and well-being is so, so important. If you feel you are not in a good place and aren’t coping, please reach out to someone or if you can’t talk to anyone in your life, please contact the NHS, or Samaritan helpline, or the national suicide prevention line for free 24/7 confidential support and help. You are loved, and are wanted. You matter and are important.

Love After Love 

The time will come when, 
with elation you will greet yourself
arriving at your own door,

in your own mirror and each will smile
at the other’s welcome, 

and say, sit here. Eat.

You will love again the stranger
who was your self.

Give wine. Give bread.
Give back your heart to itself,
to the stranger who has loved you
All your life…
Who knows you by heart.*

*NB: I have shortened the poem and made slight edits as this is how I read it. To read the poem in full, please check it out on Poem Hunter here, and you can listen to a reading by Tom Hiddleston here.

#poetry, blog, DailyFix, poemoftheday, musings,

Me and Ocean Vuong ~Night Sky With Exit Wounds.

81CkeOJUU+LSeveral months ago, a lovely collection came through the post for me. I wasn’t sure what to expect — although it goes without saying that the T. S. Elliot prizewinning poet is more than just talented at this word thing. But as I’ve revisited this collection over and over again in the past few months, I cannot express how much it has spoken to and reached places in me that I wasn’t expecting.

Vuong’s Night Sky With Exit Wounds has been reviewed far and wide by far more qualified people than me so I really feel there’s little I could add to what has been said, other than to say…

IMG_20180904_204135

This collection of poetry grips the heart with a firm grasp and leads you, with a gentleness that’s all the more noticeable because of the skill employed, into a place where all of your heart is invested. I also highly recommend listening to the author read some of his poetry. It is worth every penny and more besides (buy one for a friend!) and it’s truly something special.

IMG_20180904_204215

Night Sky With Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong is out now and available to order. Find out more about the poet here. 

#poetry, DailyFix, poemoftheday, musings,

Guilt, Not Grief ~ Jeanann Verlee

Today’s daily dose of poetry is a little…necessary. For those moments when someone just pushes you right over the edge, ‘Grief, Not Guilt’ by the incredible Jeanann Verlee has a classy insult for every conceivable moment! Read it in full…then dive right into her body of work — trust us, it’s just as wonderful!

Grief, Not Guilt (Jeanann Verlee)

I wish you a tongue scalded by tea.
A hangover. Burnt toast. Stubbed toes. A lost job.
I wish you weeping in the shower. Salt in the sugar bowl.
A wishlist of sorrows. Grief, not guilt.
Hole in your favorite coat. Stain on the good suit.
Arthritis for your joints. A broken guitar string at every show.
I wish each breath a little harder. Each workday
an hour longer. I wish your heart a thousand breaks.
All your sports teams, bottom rank. I wish your friends
go quiet. The leaves brown above your head.
A thunderstorm every morning. Nothing but pearls
when you shop for her diamond. I wish you bad knees,
a sore back. Empty sheets. A ghost to haunt your house.
A tub brimming with mud. Closet stuffed with too-small shoes.
Flat beer. Sour milk. Weak coffee. I wish you
flat tires, soggy pasta, a tax audit to fail.
Bent forks, dull knives. A hangnail for every finger.
I wish you a room wallpapered with my photographs.
A chamber filled with empty bassinets.

Verlee has just published a new collection with Black Lawrence press. Prey is available to order hereVerlee_prey_front+cover_FINAL.

Follow her and her work here.