Deeper encounters with language as a diaspora kid.
The worst part about it is that I’m great with languages. I’ve got Spanish, Irish and English under my belt, am dabbling successfully(ish) in Arabic and German, and understand enough Romanian from neighbours and friends to eavesdrop on conversations. Heck, I’ve even gathered some competence in Turkish and Portuguese out of casual interest.
Yet, when it comes to Yoruba, the language of my place of origin, the story changes.
I’ll admit here that this piece isn’t exactly about languages, as, truth be told, I can hold my own in Yoruba. I can…
Heart-swelling love and positive reality checks from friendship.
She tags me in a video on her story of a beautiful black child speaking some simple wisdom and truth. She tells me that she couldn’t help but think of my future son. She loves to hear my opinions, she thinks I’m full of them.
She sends me a message, linking to a post saying ‘I have no ugly friends’. (She is the jewel in the crown of our dazzling friend group, in fact.)
She loves my poetry so much, she reads it to all the girls at dinner. She thinks it’s…
Their power, unintentional writing advice, and renewed intentions.
Have a pretty voice
And tell me pretty things
And I will listen to you forever.
I am unbelievably enamoured by sound and marvel at the waves of noise that come from the things and people we love. I love beautiful voices, and every one is unique. A voice saying something thoughtful or clever or wholesome is infinitely better than a pretty voice on the radio that has nothing in particular to say. The voice of affection has many different sounds. It sounds like a caress as you fall asleep as a…
Outspoken takes on interracial romance from a teenager reading Americanah and too much slam poetry.
While I have been brought to love
Up to the skies and back down again
And to believe in hidden roots of compassion
Even in the darkest of minds
I can’t help but think
That maybe it is your disease,
Your predisposition to see the world this way
As your playground
I never liked blue eyes
Or tight-lipped smiles anyway
Your people’s hair hangs like spaghetti
And I laugh at your synthetic structures
I don’t want your phonetics and numbers Or to learn your past…
Is titled ‘Black and Beautiful’, or ‘Adúmáadán’, as it is originally written in the Yoruba language. It is by a poet called Taiwo Olunlade, and I read the translation by Tola Osunnuga. It is my favourite poem at the moment because before reading it, I never realised that I could be the subject of description in the context of beauty.
I love it because black feminine beauty is not described as wildly political and dramatic. It is not essentially about sexuality and dominance. It is not platonicised or masculinised to celebrate ‘strong’ women. In the poem, his ‘black and beautiful…
Hijab, jilbabs, abayas, and other lovely garments.
You can sometimes be overpriced, not worth half of the extortionate number they tag on you. But you will be bought and adored for everything you stand for. You will be imported from the East and the South, and worn with confidence and dignity and a slightly sore pocket.
I appreciate you because you can be thrown on over pyjamas, transforming me from bedroom-lounger to Woman Out and About. You relieve the hassle of matching and coordinating several pieces. …
A bittersweet space.
After Fajr, you believe you read some Qur’an and then sat back into bed and cried, simply for the great pressure that comes with the challenge to make the most of the day. The morning broke into routine, which you followed, nonetheless still harbouring that same distress you had held for so long. Shortly before the noon prayer, you cry again. Angry tears, of frustration at so many circumstances, those beyond your control and those within it. you compose yourself and pray, finding some relief in the prayer, but without having tamed and prepped your heart for…
Analysis of the many ways to forgive.
I found myself on YouTube one day, watching videos on ‘how to forgive someone who hurt you’. Besides my internal disbelief at the situation itself (we really use the internet for everything, huh?), I was surprised at what I found.
Firstly, I took the number of videos as a sign that it seems to be a question more commonly searched offline, as most videos were old and marketed by life-coach types or religious types, which I’m unsure most people can relate to. The life coaches remind you that holding grudges holds you back…
Vulnerability and over-sharing.
During my Leaving Cert years, I always looked forward to English classes. Studying was generally interesting and it prompted me to look deeper into literature, a passion I have to this day. Within the subject though, I had a love/hate relationship with poetry. One poet in particular drew my attention to it, and since then my awareness of this irk has never disappeared.
This poet’s writing was far too personal. She detailed life experiences and personal relationships extensively. Of course, all artists draw from personal experiences and interactions with the world in one way or another, it’s…
Soul-bearing expression? High-nosed nonsense? Essays, poetry, fiction — come for one, stay for them all. CEO of elusive article titles. Please enjoy!