“YOU OWE YOUR DREAMS YOUR COURAGE”: ON COLLECTIVE AMNESIA & OTHER STORIES.

Earlier this year I tweeted:

“You owe your dreams your courage.”

I don’t think I fully understood what that meant when I posted it. I am still having bits of revelations as the journey of Collective Amnesia continues.

I was going to put up a simple blog post reflecting on my 20-day book tour but I realise that the journey of this book has been so challenging, beautiful and intense, so I wanted to go back a bit to when it all started.

This is the account of the journey from my perspective, my publisher who has been a huge part of this journey has his own accounts; some similar, possibly some crazier than mine. He spent 3 months navigating the Post Office and distributors and tons of admin trying to get this book out there. For those who do not know what my publisher has done these past 3 months, let me just say that it’s been LIIIIT!

If there is anything Nick and I have in common is that we are both one-man shows. I wish I could say that there is a full on admin or PR staff sitting in some cute corner office somewhere assisting us with all the work we do, but there isn’t.

Anyway, here is a very informal and long reflection on the #CollectiveAmnesia journy and national tour.

I will date this, so no one gets lost (me especially)

2 JANUARY 2017

Back from Deesemba vacation and realising “SHIIIT!” I have a manuscript to finish:

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30 JANUARY 2017

Pre-Orders and folks responding with all of the warmth in the world.

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31 JANUARY 2017

9/10 Drafts Later, my editor Genna Gardini and I hand in the final manuscript.

21 FEBRUARY 2017

Shoot the cover and photographic visual series with Andy Mkosi

6 MARCH 2017

Collective Amnesia Goes to print.

14 MARCH 2017

Beloveds gather at my house to help me welcome my babies before I send them off.

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15 MARCH

Off to Kenya to deliver 60 copies.

16 MARCH

Reading from Collective Amnesia for the FIRST TIME.

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Thanks to Zukiswa Wanner, for this gift. Around February, Zukiswa Wanner asked if it would be possible to get a few copies printed early to take with me to Kenya. Collective Amnesia was only scheduled for release in SA in April. But uHlanga made the early print done. Zukiswa made sure the Kenyans were the first to hold this baby with me.

Those who know me will know that I had been dreaming of going to Nairobi for a long time, and to have the first time going be for a Collaboration with Zukiswa and Victor Ehikhamenor, was such a gift.

Ok. Enough, cause I will never move past this date.

22 MARCH 2017

My 24th Birthday.

I am feeling overwhelmed that the best gift I could have given myself was a FREAKEN BOOK!!!!, Was to archive this life and its experiences into something tangible, something that I could share with the world.

This day was so important for me. For the longest time I had dreamt of being published, and I always thought I would publish my first anthology when I turned 30 or post 30. I had this whole plan: Do my masters in Creative Writing, and then publish.  And here I was turning 24 and holding my first anthology.

I felt spoilt by the universe. I felt grateful to Uhlanga Press and Nick Mulgrew for taking a chance on my young voice and taking a chance on a “performance poet”

27 MARCH 2017

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Shot the Collective Amnesia Visual Series with photographer/videographer Jarryd Kleinhans.

click on links below to view:

Chapter 1: Inherited Memory

Chapter 2: Buried Memory

Chapter 3: Postmemory

30 MARCH-3 APRIL 2017

I cannot remember the exact date or day I decided that I was going to go on a book-tour or the day that I decided that such a thing was even possible.

But I suspect it was around this time. I decided that I would take the book around the country. I don’t remember my publisher flinching either. He was just like “ok, a tour…yes lets!” What a dream. I tell you. To be in partnership with folks who are willing to jump with you and affirm your aspirations. We all need partnership like that. They are  imperative.

4 APRIL 2017

I meet up with a friend, stressed and not knowing if I will manage to self-fund the tour. In the conversation, the friend asks me, “Beybs, why are supposedly celebrated and loved and yet here you are struggling and stressed…Ask for help from all these so-called fans and believers of your work.

So I sat at the Alexander Bar around 9 pm (while my friends were watching a show in the theatre) and sent over 50 emails asking for funding and sponsorship for the tour.

Over the course of two weeks, individuals and organizations and spaces responded with such generosity and kindness.

This night was such a huge lesson in not being ashamed or afraid to ask for help, for what you need, for support etc.

With every email, I sent I had to tell myself I was worthy of my own self-belief and the belief and endorsement from backers.

Thank you to all the #CollectiveAmnesiaTour sponsors mentioned at the end of this post.

 

MID-APRIL

Collective Amnesia is officially released and Launched in South Africa

 

CAPE TOWN

11 APRIL 2017 – UCT

Hosted by The African Gender Institute

In conversation with Toni Stuart, Faye Kabali-Kagwa, Siphokazi Jonas, Chaired by Greer Valley

 

photos//Andy Mkosi

 

12 APRIL 2017-DISTRICT SIX HOMECOMING CENTRE

In conversation with Carol Mashigo

 

Photos//Neo Baepi

 

21 APRIL 2017 –G.U.S GALLERY, STELLENBOSCH

Hosted by Inzync Poetry Sessions

In conversation Uhuru Phalafala

 

Photos//Jarryd Kleinhans

 

21 APRIL 2017

I announce the postponement of the Durban and Grahamstown launches.

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Because glitches are a thing.

Because doing something for the first time sometimes means that you will realize that things of this magnitude require time and rigorous planning. I also had to take the time to rest before diving into the next thing.

Self-care first.

Self-care first.

Became the reoccurring lesson.

24 APRIL 2017

I make an open call for other cities to join the collective Amnesia route.

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I can’t remember what possessed this open call.

some responses:

 

 

25 APRIL 2017

My publisher announces Collective Amnesia’s 2nd Print. I didn’t expect that it would come so early. Or even come at all.

 

MAY

THE COLLECTIVE AMNESIA NATIONAL TOUR OFFICIALLY STARTS

 

5 MAY 2017

Collective Amnesia is officially a prescribed text at the University of Stellenbosch and will be taught by the incredible Dr Uhuru Phalafala

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I lost my shit this day. I was overcome by so much gratitude for the work done by Black lectures in institutions of higher learning, for the work and fight of my generation. For their persistence in changing the conversation in institutions of higher learning. I know and understand that Collective Amnesia exists or can exist in universities like Stellenbosch and UCT because of movements lime #RhodesMustFall & #Feesmustfall

11 MAY 2017

8 dates & venues are announced

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16 MAY 2017

1 more launch in Cape Town before embarking on the tour.

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Hosted by Grounding Sessions

 

20 MAY 2017

I find out that Collective Amnesia is part of the 2nd year English and Gender Studies lecture series at UCT.

Thanks to Khwezi Mkhize & Gabeba Baderoon

21 MAY 2017

An 8 launch-tour turns into a 13 launch -tour. I am both nervous and excited about the expansion.

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Because I still don’t know what the hell I am doing. haha.

Literally, I am improvising as I go.

 

27 May 2017 

The National Tour “Starts”

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GAUTENG

Day 1

27 MAY 2017 –PLAT40RM

Hosted by Word n Sound

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photos//Cheeky Natives

 

Day 2

28 MAY 2017- VAAL

Hosted by African Flavour Books & Genesis Poetry Spoken Word Movement

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Day 3

29 MAY 2017-JHB, BRIDGE BOOKS

An intimate reading and conversation hosted by Cheeky Natives

Link to podcast 

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Day 4

30 MAY 2017-JHB, MARKET THEATRE

Hosted by The Star and Word N Sound

in conversation with Lebo Mashile & Milisuthando Bongela.

(one of the the most profound evenings and conversations of my life.)

 

 

Day 5

31 MAY 2017- PRETORIA

Hosted by Speak out Loud, Hear My Voice, National Library of South Africa, Poetoria & The Swedish Embassy.

 

This 15-year-old boy stood by my side and wrote me a poem while I signed. This was the highlight of my evening.

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Day 6

1 JUNE 2017 -KIMBERLY

Hosted by The Sol Plaatje University

In conversation with Gertrude Fester

 

Photos//Carey Moraladi

 

Day 7

2 JUNE 2017-PIETRMARITZBURG

Hosted by Tree of Poetry Spoken word movement

In conversation with Pumelela Nqelenga

 

 

Day 8

3 JUNE 2017-DURBAN

Hosted by Izimbongi Zesimanje

 

photos//Goodeye

 

Day 9/10

4-5 JUNE 2017

Rest and travel days

I couldn’t tell which was worse, launching every single night, or having a break inbetween for rest and travel.

Day 11

6 JUNE 2017-PORT ELIZABETH

Hosted by NMMU

This felt like one epic homecoming.

We had to switch venues mid-launch because the first venue was too small. I have never felt so loved. The spirit of my Grandfather who was a preacher, who loved words, who believed in the power of the word, was alive on this day.

 

 

 Day 12

7 JUNE 2017

Travel day

 

Day 13

8 JUNE 2017 –NELSPRUIT

Hosted by Words in my Mouth Poetry Slam

 

Photos//umavidabxl

 

Day 14

9 JUNE 2017

Travel day

 

Day 15

10 JUNE 2017-POLOKWANE

Hosted by Slam Eporium 

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I had never performed or launched at a car wash before, so this was a glorious first. It asked of me to think about spoken word performance spaces differently.

 

Day 16-18

11-13 JUNE 2017

Travel and Rest days

 

12 JUNE  2017

This comes in from my publisher

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Guys apparently the average novel/book in SA sells between 600-1000 copies in its lifetime. I read an article about it a week before this came in. So when this arrived I was like “say whaaaaaat?”

I am still processing what it means to sell 2000 copies of a poetry book in South Africa.

 

Day 19

14 JUNE 2017-GRAHAMSTOWN

Hosted by The National English Literary Museum

 

At this launch, I also find out that Collective Amnesia is being taught and used as material at Rhodes University.

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The youngest audience member, Lonwabo, got up, took the mic and asked me:

“Why are you not afraid to get up there and speak?”

Thixo! I have never been so dumbfounded in my life.

Photos//Khuthala Adam

 

Day 20-Last Day of Tour

15 JUNE 2017-KING WILLIAMS TOWN

Hosted by The Steve Biko Centre

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The last 3 days of the tour were incredibly difficult. I didn’t know I had that kind of stamina until I was doing it.

I was on the road with my mom for 20 days. I was tired, inspired and taking it one day at a time really.

There is so much to reflect on. Things I would have done differently. Lessons learnt etc.

It’s been an exact year since being approached by uHlanga to publish my first anthology. Last year June had someone said that this would be the kind of post I’d be putting up on my blog, I would not have believed them. I am grateful spoken word communities around the country who have made Spoken Word trendy and alive in South Africa.

I did not pull this off alone. Thank you to all the hosts, venues, backers, reviewers, media people, photographers who captured this journey and more importantlythank you to my mom.

Hosts:

African Gender Institute | District 6 Homecoming Centre | G.U.S Gallery & Valeri Geselev | Word N Sound | The Palt40rm | Genesis Poetry | African Flavor Books | Cheeky Natives |Speak Out Loud |Hear My Voice | National Library of South Africa | Sol Plaatje University & Carina Truyts | Tree of Poetry & Bessie Head Library | Izimbongi Zesimanje/Nowadays Poets | NMMU & Zolisa Marawu | Words in my Mouth Poery Slam | Slam Eporium | National English Literary Museum | Steve Biko Centre | Inzync Poetry Sessions | Grounding Sessions

Media that made this work visible:

Between 10 & 5 | HuffingtonPost SA | Mail & Guardian | Africa in Dialogue | Marie Claire | AfriPop Magazine | Johannesburg Review of Books | City Press | Kaya FM | Power Fm

 THANK YOU BACKERS:

The Distell Foundation | Kingsmead Book Fair | The African Gender Institute | District Six Homecoming Centre | Embassy of Sweden | Sol Plaatje University | The Steve Biko Centre | Azafi Omoluabi-Ogosi | Yewande Omotoso | Dr Alexandra Ross | Elelwani Netshifhire | Gaamangwe Mogami | Tamara Guhrs |Mandla Mbothwe | Lesego Rampolokeng | Mike Van Graan | Dr Lunette Warren |Andrew Van Der Vlies | Victor Ehikhamenor | Callum Tilbury |Lucy Graham | Jon Keevy |Toni Stuart | Fran Michel | Javier Perez | Nomfy Meyer

Last but most definitely not least.

So grateful to my Mother who did this thing with me. Who put her work and her life on pause to take me around the country to share this work.

I am a blessed daughter because of her.

I am a blessed poet and artist because of all the people mentioned in this post. And all the people who filled venues.

I feel incredibly grateful to all the 2000 humans who hold a copy of Collective Amnesia.

Let’s Make it 10 000 copies, just because we can.

Thousand times, Thank YOU!!!!!!!

Poetry Lives.

Admiration Can Be Violent Too: An Emerging Artist’s Notes on Visibility.

I think I have the energy and vocabulary to talk about this today.

I wanted to start this with a quote by Vuyelwa Maluleke, but I can’t find the quote, so I’ll try and paraphrase what she said because she summed up all of my feelings in one facebook status. In the status, she basically told people who consider themselves ‘fans’ to stop feeling entitled to the person whose work they admire. I am sure there are many versions of this, and articles and and and. But Vuyelwa’s words strung a chord with me because they came at a time I was struggling with a guilt I had been feeling, a guilt caused by toxic messages people had been leaving in my inboxes,  messages at the time I did not see as toxic, but as ‘admiration’, ‘support’ and positive ‘attention’.  When you are emerging and celebrated, no one warns you about the toxicity in hyper-visibility. Haha. Let me tell you now. It’s a blessing and a bitch. And it wears many costumes, beguiling and attractive ones, But the one I’ll try and tackle here is: ADMIRATION!

A few days ago I had to address a rather intense and awkward situation with an ‘admirer’. I won’t get into details about this particular situation, because the person is a colleague and acquaintance too, and the matter is still unresolved. In hindsight, my response to this person may have been harsh, but I think my response at the time stemmed from my being gatvol of the many incidences that keep popping up with ‘admirers’ both in public and private spaces (private here being inboxes or one on one encounters). Lying on my bed this afternoon and reflecting on The FEES MUST FALL poetry session which took place last night, which was so lit by the way, I remember an encounter I had with someone at the session, an incident that may seem like not so big of deal for the person who claimed to be an ‘admirer’ of my work and for those who were standing around us at the time.

The scenario:

I am standing outside; there are a bunch of people milling about, having a smoke, chatting etc. Person x is drunk or tipsy (I get the sense from how loud and ungovernable he was) fine. whatever. be drunk and ungovernable, actually live your best life whilst being ratchet, we all must.  I endorse it 100%. Person x comes over and asks for a hug, I give him one. He proceeds to want to talk to me about what is currently happening in his life,  I am genuinely interested and I want to engage him, but he was too loud and I was scared the noise would make its way inside and disrupt the session, so i say to him we’ll talk later or during the interval, he says he wants to hug me again and comes in for one, I say but I have already given you one, plus I am wearing white and I don’t want this wine to spill on my top. He proceeds to tell me how much he ‘admires and loves me/my work’ I say thank you and try to make my way inside. Then we go back and fourth for another a minute/two with ‘Him: I want to hug you again, I love your work. Me: No. Plus I don’t want the wine to spill on my top. You are going to make me spill the wine.’ and at some point in between all of that the wine spills on the floor (like. it was bound to). Now I am slightly irritated,  but I shrug it off and have a giggle with the people I was standing with. I then turn around and say to a friend, what is it about me, that invites this kind of shit EVERY TIME! This afternoon I think about my use of the word ‘invite’ and how fucked up that word choice was because people’s lack of boundaries or respect for other’s people’s bubble or ‘no’should not be something i take responsibility for.

Reflecting on this incident today took me back to many other incidences like this. These are all recent:

  1. I am leaving the theatre the other night, a colleague/acquaintance comes up to me and says “I really love your work’, sometimes I just want to fuck you and have you say poems to me while I do.” I stood there for a good minute shook and confused. I then said ‘wow…ok’, not really sure what to say. He then moved on to talk about the show we saw, and I said I have to get home. I remember needing to take a shower that night quite desperately.
  2. I arrive at a poetry session/also declared as a conscious space. I was scheduled to perform later in the evening. One of the organizers offers to get me a drink. 5 minutes later, she brings me and my partner at the time a glass of wine. A few minutes later this womxn comes up to us and greets us quite politely (I pick up that she is slightly tipsy). She does the whole admiration of my work spiel. I say thank you. She leaves. The evening continues. I perform. I come off stage. The womxn returns and says thank you for the performance, she is tipsier now, I say thank you for coming etc etc. She then asks if she can have a sip of my wine, I say “I can get you a glass”, she says no she wants a sip of mine. I say “ok. actually take the whole glass, I’ll just get myself another glass”.  she says no, she wants to share one with me…my (then) partner laughs. I give her (the tipsy womxn) the glass and get up to get another one. Moments later, ughel returns and takes my glass out of my hand without my permission and starts sipping on my wine. I say “excuse me?” and strus god, her response was, ” Koleka, oh  my God, I really love you, and your work….I want to know where you live, I want to come over and do your laundry, I want to wash your underwear” still sipping on MY WINE!  I still remember her response so vividly because my partner and I visited that encounter often after that. After a few minutes of telling usisters why she had been problematic, my partner intervenes and at some point it comes out that she is my partner…Ughel then starts to rub my partner’s thigh while complimenting her. My partner and I left immediately. I later learned that this womxn is as ‘conscious’ and as ‘lit’ as they come. But caba sana iconsciousness iyavanisha xasinxilile.
  3. Another tipsy case with another lit and conscious sister. I am at a poetry event, a womxn comes up to me, she pulls me outside and starts telling me about how much she is an admirer of my work (notice the pattern?). I say thank you. She then comes in for a hug without warning. I reciprocate. Because also I know how awkward I am and can be in such situations, so I never really know what is appropriate. After what seems like forever I pull away. She then starts caressing my face while repeating over and over how much she loves me. I pull away. I Leave the event immediately (I am now srarting to notice THIS PATTERN) I call a friend crying and not being able to really explain why.
  4. This is the last one because I can feel myself losing energy already just recounting these scenarios. But it feels like I have the vocabulary and the willpower to talk about this today, so I will, with the help of Miriam Makeba. So, Four: I decide to go to this party and twerk my face off because it’s been a long and draining week. I’m not one for turning up like that, so when I do I mean it. Like. Don’t mess with me when I have decided to go out and dance. Right. This party is at the sugar hut which is not necessarily one of my favorite hangout spots, actually I rarely go there. So you know this evening was an exception. I get to the Sugar Hut, and pay the door. My friend and I go to the bar to get a drink, 5 minutes later I hear someone screaming “WATER! WATER! WATER!” the first thing that comes to mind is “Shit! someone is choking to death or dying” second thought is “Damn someone must be really thirsty”. I continue to order a drink and this desperate plea for H2O moves closer and closer, within a minute, someone pats me on my back screaming “WATER! WATER! WATER!” in my ear. This person and I know each other, he could have just said Hi Koleka, or ‘Coco’ (the name I went by when being woke was not fashionable), So I turn around and ask him jokingly, Are you thirsty bruh, What’s happening?, he then says oh my God, water! You are here. I then say to him, you know my name is not water, why are you calling me that? I knew why, but I wasn’t about to condone or entertain it.  I then grab my drink and leave the bar.  About twenty minutes later I am on the dance floor with my friend and Mr WATER! Returns and starts dancing in my bubble screaming “Water! Water!” he then says….wait for it…wait for it…yes you guessed it….” I really ADMIRE YOUR WORK!” I can’t remember if I said thank you or if I just smiled and left. But I left the venue immediately after that because he just killed my whole vibe.

Here’s the thing. I can’t even begin to express to you how #WATER has changed my life,  it has been the craziest year. It has been blessed, challenging and beautiful. 80% of the doors that have opened for me I owe to #WATER (for real).  90% of how my life and politics has changed is because of #WATER. One day when I have the energy and vocabulary I will write about this too. So trust me I understand, I understand how #Water has/continues to move you…Even me babes. There is no other piece that holds me accountable and continues to pour into my life like #WATER. But You cannot, cannot, absolutely cannot and will not call me #WATER, or shout #WATER a million times in my ear while you are trying to grind with me during a turn-up… all because of admiration. What even is admiration in the face of disrespect and being fucky.

Listen. I also understand that we are all fucky shem. Each and every single one of us, particularly when we have had one or two, or smoked some. But I also know that self-control and respect, if it is genuinely part of your character, does not get diluted or lost in the process of getting drunk and so on. I also say this recognizing that I have behaved fucky a number of times with people I admire (and I have tried to rectify those situations or at least I think I have tried) because I don’t just expect those I admire/have admired to get over it or take it because they appear strong or “used to it”.

I remember seeing Lebo Mashile for the first time. I wanted to jump on her back and tell her I love her and her work like a gazillion times. She changed my life. She was one of the poets who inspired me when I started. So when I met her for the first time, my first response was not to sip on a drink she was having, it wasn’t to scream “I smoked a spliff with Jesus Christ” for 15 minutes in her ear in public or to caress her face in a creepy kind of way. I simply asked for a selfie, and an autograph and moved on with my life.  And thereafter in my spare time, I had fantasies of us becoming besties. But she didn’t need to be bombarded with all of that because it was mine.  Years later the universe would bring us together in a more organic and beautiful way, which I am grateful for. I’m sure she doesn’t even remember our first encounter. But I do. And I have held onto it because I “ADMIRED” and still do ADMIRE her a great deal.

Just because you have access to the people whose work you admire it does not mean you have the right to violate or infringe on their space however and whenever you want. It’s funny that 60% of these weird and ugly encounters have been with people I know, and have had multiple conversations and hung out with a few times.

There are many more incidences like this. Some have made me lock myself in bathrooms at events because I didn’t want to face these so-called fans that have no sense of boundaries. Some have made me come home tired and wishing I had responded differently, and I understand on some level the victim-perpetrator power dynamic that is at play here but knowing these things does not change the fact that we expect better from others and from those who should know better. Some of these incidences  have even made me want to stop sharing my work publically. And some have made me wonder if there is something about me that ‘invites’ these kinds of situations. Often, I want to say to people, it’s not me you are after, you have a connection with my work, and that’s beautiful, and I appreciate that. I am living my dream right now. There was a time I was praying for the days when I would share my work.  And those days are here and unraveling. But I don’t find this level of  human/artist consumption romantic,  affirming or flattering at all. It’s creepy and violent. Violence can come dressed as admiration too. Violence can come dressed as love, as praise, as oblivion, as a drunk ignorance that does not and will not take responsibility. Expectation and demanding someone’s attention and time despite their telling you ‘no’ or ‘wait’ is an act of violence. I am not obligated to answer to your email or inbox at your convenience. I am not obligated to hug you, in the same way, I am not obligated to hug that uncle at the family Christmas gathering.

We destroy and break the very people we claim we love/admire by consuming them in unrealistic and unhealthy ways. Drunk or sober we need to start being more conscious of our relationship with entitlement, power, and admiration.   A question that comes up a lot in interviews and QnAs is “How do you protect your space?” I love this question. But I also never know how to respond to it because I am still trying to figure out rituals and practical ways of surrounding myself with a light and armor in spaces loaded with all sorts of parasites. I have a squad of people who hold me down and fetch me from events when such things happen. Those people ground me. Those people are some of that light and armor. But whilst I figure this out, I need people to know that when you touch me in public without my consent, or grind up on me in a turn up, or send me an inbox calling me arrogant or a bitch because I didn’t respond in the time you wanted me to, or when you tell me ‘my poetry makes you want to fuck me’, understand that you are being violent. Understand that it’s not a compliment or flattering. It’s creepy. It hurts. It’s tiring. It’s not acceptable.

To be honest, I LOVE HUGS, you guys. I seriously love hugs and kisses. I am probably one of the most intimate and affectionate teddy bearicajl-humans you will ever meet, but these incidences are slowly building a wall that I cannot allow to make a home here. Because I really love hugs, I think Hugs are healthy for you. But don’t force a hug on me otherwise I will punch you in the face, that’s just where I am at right now. We can admire people and their work without making them feel like they are not human or visible. Your actions are not making me feel seen, actually it’s quite the opposite. When you don’t hear me or respect my space or resistance to your advances, you humiliate, dehumanize and make me invisible.  And surely you can’t admire something or someone you can’t see.

Engage me as a person first. Then as the poet/person you see on stage. I am not a mannequin you can toss your shit on or hump on or caress as you please. On the other side of these poems and dope punchlines there is an actual person who must sift through your violence masquerading as admiration.

Your reflections are a bomb in a world that says commit suicide quietly. Your Rant is Life. So Rant. And Post Blog Posts with really long titles. Who cares?

ONE:

I have reached the annoying age

Where I am asking too many questions about things

The family has worked hard at burying.

I have been drinking wine from the same wine glass for the past few days

My vagina is not the only thing that is bleeding

I’m a happy person

I keep telling myself

The sadness does not believe me

The sadness does not leave

I keep setting a day/date for my social media hiatus

I have just come back. I need to go away again.

I’m afraid of travelling

But I don’t know how to stay either

I’m itchy. And indecisive.

[Unlove the married somebody.]

I don’t know when I’ve become this transparent somebody

Home feels weird and loaded

I don’t want to be the person I have constructed here

I feel stupid

The last time I felt stupid was in high school

And first-year varsity

Academia has a way of making even the most brilliant people feel small

My cape is made of wounds and disappointment today

I don’t want to fly around and save other people or even myself in that

I don’t know if people would even take a flawed human who poses as a superhero seriously

We all see through each other

But we pretend like we don’t

We attend to the things that are less uncomfortable

All these rejection letters in my mail box are destabilising

I don’t feel like #blackgirlmagic or #slayage today

My periods are fucking with me

I keep blaming my impoliteness on jetlag

I want to go away for a bit

I need to leave my heart behind; it’s always causing trouble

They don’t tell you that when your heart breaks

It is not always because of people

This world is going to give me a heart attack

God.

I need to show up for me

My niece looks like my grandmother

These people really do come back in various forms

I was throwing my Gran in the air yesterday

I put my Gran to sleep yesterday

I dropped the phone on someone important earlier

I probably should backspace this free-write

I probably should edit this later

I probably shouldn’t post this either

I probably will and not know why

And possibly take it down a few hours later

I hope I am not this predictable

I have to do poems this weekend

I don’t want to do poems

Or I do

But I can’t look at my poems lately

I feel small

I feel insignificant and invisible

There is no manual for joy/self-love

Or getting yourself out of the gutter

Admitting that you really wanted that thing is hard

Dealing with not getting it is uh bitch

The tears are throwing a tantrum

And sitting stubbornly in my diaphragm and throat

Maybe I am exhausted

I have not unpacked my suitcase

Or tackled the to-do list

Admin is not good for insanity

On some level, we all suffer from some sort of dementia

“How can someone be so articulate and so inarticulate at the same time”

My mind keeps punishing me for that interview

I wish I could pull a Lazarus on the ones who have passed on in my life

I wish I were Jesus

Not for the miracles or resurrection juju

But for the privilege and legacy

And immunity

This country is a sewerage

Black people – more specifically black wom*n a are caught up in its shit

It’s not healthy you know, living in shit

And pretending like you don’t stink

All the time:  I’m fine!

We say.

Anyways

I need to read plays

Can I even direct?

Am I even a writer?

Self-doubt tied up in jetlag and menstruation is another kind of suicide

I should hike tomorrow

Or read a book somewhere quiet

I am a firm believer of hot showers, good company and good music

And taking it moment by moment

Silence is another kind of suicide

I appreciate the ones who allow me space and time

To indulge in the Blacklist and Orange is the new black

And ramblings about absolutely nothing

And everything important (to me)

I really love listening and twerking to Gospel music

But every time I get into feeling the spirit whatever

And close my eyes to raise my hands (the way that I was taught)

I picture the white-hippie-with-nail-piercings

And my twerk revolution can’t handle that kind of oppression

So I am back to square zero

Back to the unlearning and deleting

And purging things I have no idea what I would sound like

If they were to be muted

What if I start over?

I need to start over.

Every day

I am going to start over

I think

For sanity’s sake.

The same amount of brilliance and beauty

is the same dosage of bullshit in dope human beings

Just something to remember.

 

TWO:

Don’t be afraid of the silence

Don’t be afraid of hearing your own voice

Don’t be afraid of sounding your own voice

People are always projecting

Don’t wallow in your own fears

You will never live

Take a train. Even if it scares you

Don’t say to yourself “talk less about yourself”

See yourself more often

Even when they call you self-indulgent

Especially when they call you self-indulgent

Listen more

Practice kindness more

Write what you like

Reflect more

Don’t be afraid of vulnerability

Don’t regret the decisions you make intoxicated

Have more wine

Admit that you love wine

Don’t apologise for loving wine

Drink as much water though

Cry

Cry

Cry

Cry

Cry

Cry

Allow the rejection in

Move forward

But you are not made of steel or iron or your mother and her mother’s genes

Don’t hold on to things that have a no grip

Don’t get a grip if you don’t want to

Write and write whatever you want

Vacillate between the self-doubt and the confidence

You will always be a contradiction

Your work will do surgery on you

Only because the pain and the experiences were real

Admit you did not cry about some of it

Admit that you did not get mad about some of it

Don’t crawl back into a prisoning silence

Call your mother

Send your father pictures of Washington

Accept that they are trying

Take it one day at a time

You are still figuring this out

Allow the process of growth

Miss the ones that have passed on

Name them if you must

The world will not stop for you

You have to slow down-for you

Sleep more

Breathe more

Eat more healthy stuff

You are enough

All the time

You are here

You will be something

You are already something

Say today it hurts

Today it is sore

Today it’s hard to breathe

Do not edit this poem

Do not censor or attempt to dilute the past

Write about God and church for as long as it takes to purge you of your conditioning

Love as many souls as you need to

Love in ways that make sense for you

A lot of the bullshit will pass

The elders can testify

More importantly

One day at a time:

Live

Live

Live

Live

Live

Live