So, a month or two ago I wrote a poem. (See post entitled poetry). I was asked to perform this poem at a festival and given a 15 minute slot, so I started to polish some musings I had on my phone and they became whole. Whole but tiny parts of my soul that I shared with the world. Well several friends and seventy acquaintances.
I can’t remember the last time I was that nervous. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t smoke and I couldn’t even have a fortifying gulp of something to take the edge off. I felt like vomiting might be necessary. I was second, coming after a more experienced spoken word poet, and I felt, lighter hearted, more suitable for a festival in the woods, performance. She was great. And then it was my turn. All I can say is, once I stepped behind the mic and started speaking, it was as if my nerves receded. I was still nervous but no longer the bag of nerves I had been several minutes before. I made people laugh, I made people clap and dare I say it, I made people think.
So here is the opening poem from that set. The words seem so bald on the screen, and I can hardly believe that I said the others aloud. Oh and in a strange fluke, the poet John Berkavitch followed me as the last act. I have had a flyer for his show ‘Shame’ on my pin board for months now, it has the strapline ‘What’s the worse thing you ever did?’ which both prompts me to think but also encouraged me to be honest in my writing.
Just because I am black
Doesn’t mean my hair will magically turn into an afro
Doesn’t mean I feel a connection with where my parents are from
And doesn’t mean I cook rice and peas/ jerk chicken
know lots about reggae and hip hop,
or just date black men.
Just because I am a woman
Doesn’t mean I always have to smile
Doesn’t mean I deserve to be paid less
And doesn’t mean I am dainty, demure or delicate
or any other outdated words used to describe women.
Just because I am a feminist
Doesn’t mean I hate make up and getting my hair done
Doesn’t mean I don’t like men
And doesn’t mean I can’t be silly,
watch rubbish tv,
and dance to music that glorifies the objectification of women. (I hate this a little bit.)
When will black boys stop being murdered by the police?
When will rape stopped being used as a weapon of war?
What will it take for gender equality to be the norm?
I want answers.