jumping back with a continuation of the poetry diary:
April felt like stress poured slowly into sweet herbal tea. it felt like i was supposed to eventually choke it up and admit that it is too much, but i wouldn’t, cos i asked for it. My dissertation was titled ‘Black Female Autobiography and Voicelessness in Maya Angelou’ and i spent days reading and discovering new black women to admire, learn from, write about. i felt good handing it in. i physically shook once i printed it out at the 2am before the deadline. i physically shook. i flicked through half of it and got scared that i had made a mistake and opened it again. but it was special for me. (i am yet to read back through this dissertation, i will today i think).
the remaining few days of april after the disso hand-in were set aside for recuperation. i ran home, to london. found peace in portobello market, documented some of the faces i know but have not had the courage to photograph previously. i found space for me to react, write out the things i scribbled in notebooks during my dissertation and bloom.
trigger warning to my friends at UOB**
i also lost a friend which i do not like to write about and idly open wounds, but i will revisit in a way that seems right (rest in eternal power Kikaose Eyebi Onyibe) but know that this influenced and interrupted my poetry, academics and approach to life too. she was the very best that we had. it is so hard when someone so young and talented and invested in life suddenly dies, in ways that easily could have been prevented. it is harder to accept that this is what God planned, it is hard to keep hearing it and when it is not your turn to cry, it is harder still being the one to say that it is God’s plan. but i will write something someday and i will make sense.
i started reading ‘for colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow is enuf’ and it changed the damn game. i saw new ways to storytell as a black woman writer.
i wore my duafe around my neck and packed my winter coat away.
the month of waiting. i wasted so much time in may, counting the days away until i never had to study for another undergraduate exam. i only had one. and it was a seen exam. i just got a little impatient with the UK education system. i’m not mad at myself, sometimes impatience is a virtue. gratitude is vital though. i started a new journal, inscribed it for myself ‘be in love this time’ (only i will know what that means). i bought tickets to see rupi kaur perform her poems in brighton and realised that 1) brighton was truly the place to be a student and 2) truly the place to be a writer, in the summer, by the sea. i also saw Akala do a talk in birmingham early on a saturday morning. it was good, he spoke about the Haitian revolution and sparked an idea for a play that i’m giving body to today. he called everyone bredda and made it clear that he really doesn’t rate birmingham by repeating that he is catching a train back to London immediately after. amazing speaker irrelevant though. i also see Chronixx perform live this month and meet up with my high school girls and get reminded of myself.
i handled my curve balls. i ended stuff. i began new things by and for myself. i had more time, to meditate until i got bored. i sought Yah desperately as a daily affirmation. cleansed my home and taught myself how to throw things away. i started flat-hunting for real. got frustrated on the 19th. had a viewing and a new flat on the 25th.
may sounded like ‘Afro Blue’, Badu and felt like one layer of clothing for the first time in the entire year.
as long as i have poetry i’ll be fine.
tell them not to cry for me.
i run out of poetry
send for me then,
run with heavy arms
that drag me away
from the silence that you know
i cannot escape from.
and why should there be dry eyes?
– monday morning
my friend, she looks at me like i should know better, she looks at me and doesn’t shout, but says ‘Amara, there is no word for mental illness in my language. i must drag words together and translate an experience that does not exist when speaking to my parents. who do i tell? who do i speak to?’
i tell her in a silence our similar oppression understands
speak to me
speak to me
speak to me
– visual projects arising from southall| where i am from
woke up by the river
but i didn’t swim there
so then i guess
decided to hide me there.
But God didn’t throw me into the deep end.
there was no point
God could see me shivering through my smile
and those tears that i let fall while under water,
God picked them out of the water, with her hands
and told me
there was nothing that could not be seen.
and then i swam
away from the lie that lived on the shore
on the land
with you guys.
-always magnolia rivers| most likely wrote this one after reading Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid.
and when you see them
swallow them in your silence
empty them, clear them out,
eradicate them for me, before they actually convince you that they are frightened
– immune|white gaze.
i want the kind of spirituals and the kind of gospels
not on the internet
archived in long car journeys to church in Brixton
archived in sunday dinners together
my memory of
falsetto and deep moans
praising Yah in ways we know are not christian-
this where voices raise and threaten to break under pressure
but do not,
this communication is not diluted
is no ism, has no hymn book, begs no denomination
is deep pain
we never knew we all had lumped in our throats
this is lyrics we’ve sang before
and cry because we will sing again.
and so it was, growth and lessons in april and may.
ending this post with documentation of my favourite part of london:
thank you for reading what i write,