Wrapped up in darkness
swallowed up by hurt
you listened to the shattered pieces of me
Me with-holding from you the bitter, angry, and chaotic parts of myself,
And you held me
facing the empty streets with lit lights, looking across our two cities, I cried internally
Gripped onto the darkness of my childhood and I shattered
You sat next to me without knowing that every word that I spoke was a part of me shattering
something happened to me that night
the night you sat with me in the spot we call our’s
death settled that night in our spot
and I wonder if you held a funeral the morning after
because there was a rebirth of me
baring my soul with you right there was death to me
your hands wrapped around mine’s felt tender
your head on my thigh was otherworldly
and I died
hearing my pain being spoken penetrated me
I was hurt, unintentionally
One must not be afraid to speak words of truth
even when one’s heart quiver and shake
I was shook/breathless/motionless
And you listened/quietly/attentively
as I swallowed my pride and told you about the rough times in my life
Just at age 22, I’ve felt like I’ve been in war
too many bruises and wounds internally to count
just stories untold to be unfolded
You slipped closer to me/hesitating/not sure on what to do
and I noticed the way you looked at me
As if I was a person you never really knew
and like untold secrets that get told, I surprised you
I’ve told you how I’ve self-medicated my soul with writing
Perusing my pain and emptying out my heart in random notebooks/ across homework/ in books/ and under my tongue
There is a cemetery inside of me where stories are buried
and that night there was a resurrection of untold stories
“give your daughters difficult names. give your daughters names that command the full use of tongue. my name makes you want to tell me the truth. my name doesn’t allow me to trust anyone that cannot pronounce it right.”
― Warsan Shire
Upon the release of Amir Sulaiman’s “The Opening” (2013) I had to download it onto my
computer to put on repeat. Every since I’ve discovered spoken-word I’ve enjoyed
listening to Amir Sulaiman’s poetry. I had first saw Amir Sulaiman perform
“She’d Prefer A Broken Neck…” for Russel Simmon’s Def Jam Poetry. After
listening to his poetry online, I knew I had to keep myself updated on any new
poems from him. Sulaiman’s poetic-style is raw, spiritual, real, and truthful. I
personally believe that Sulaiman could carry a whole night of poetry alone
without anyone introducing him or closing the show. If I ever had the chance to
see Sulaiman live I would most definitely purchase a ticket. Sulaiman’s poetry
is very much in your face and without apologies. It penetrates you straight in
the heart. It makes you think about many issues within the world around you.
On his new album, “The Opening”, Sulaiman offers listeners with an uprising of words set aflame. The whole album is a favorite of mines, but there are certain tracks on the album that leaves me pressing repeat. One of the tracks I have enjoyed from day one is “Come To The Hills” feature Drea Nur. Actually, this is the last track to the album and it leaves you
questioning many things. It definitely stirs up a sense of uneasiness in your
soul. Sulaiman brings up Emmit Till and his death along with the emasculation of
great Black men in history. He compared and contrasted the realities of the past
with the realities of today. Sulaiman discussed the harsh-realities facing
Blacks and the mentalities of current Blacks in American-society. There is
definitely alot of testerone on this track. In listening to this track, I think
about the present music that many Black-artists produce in American-society and
I weep. Alot of the present mainstream music produced within rap and hip-hop is
demeaning, materialistic, and unrealistic. There is a removal of reality being
presented in alot of mainstream music. In listening to Sulaiman’s spoken-word
piece, I think about the Black female-presence and how it interacts with the
Black-male. The majority of the track centers around the emasculation of the
Black-male and the history of the past. Not only does the track center around
the emasculation of the Black-male, but Sulaiman looks at the climate of current
politics for Black-males in America. The track leaves the listener questioning
the current generation’s response to its past history along with generations to
follow. Of course, this is interpretive and just from my own analysis.
As you peruse your way through the album, you may find yourself sitting within your thoughts. It’s okay. There’s nothing to worry about…for right now. Sulaiman created an award’s praiseworthy album in my book. Every single track on the album discusses heart-wrenching truths and realities that many people shy away from. I will definitely say that the album is political and revolutionary.
So, what are the main topics throughout the album? I would have to list off a few topics:
*The place for race and its relevance in American-society
* What is masculinity
* Is the artist the same as his/her art?
* The role of death in our lives
There’s alot to take away from the album and there’s more to be analyzed, but this is just a brief analysis on one of the tracks that I’ve enjoyed personally. The album will provoke many questions and will stir-up some unruly conversations in social-gatherings about many of the topics I listed above. The album is definitely an opening to something bigger than just words on Sulaiman’s notepad.
Here’s the link to the full-album: https://amirsulaiman.bandcamp.com/album/the-opening
If anyone is interested in discussing the album, let me know! It’s worth having dialogue about in the near future.
Last night, I was on the phone with a friend and found myself melting second by second as the conversation got deeper and deeper. The conversation was about poetry, but more specifically-spoken word. Yes, poetry and spoken word are slightly different but they present similarities. So, I found myself quite enthused in being apart of this conversation for several reasons.
1. Literature is my world. It almost seems like a necessity next to breathing, sleeping, eating, and drinking.
2. Poetry saves me from myself. Yes, it really does. I have many adventures in my own personal life, so poetry allows me to write about these adventures in a form that is very much expressive of my inner-being.
3. There aren’t any limits. Poetry is filled with limitlessness. There isn’t a wall or barrier. It’s pure freedom and you’ll able to enjoy this empty playground.
4. It’s political. Yes, I said it. Poetry can indeed be political. I’ve listened and watched many poets in my time and found this to be true. In many ways, political poetry have broken down barriers/boundaries/walls within many cultural contexts. Also, it creates new narratives that weren’t included before. Also, it allows for people from all backgrounds to become apart of a conversation that is open for all to join in.
5. It’s therapeutic. Yes, studies have shown this. I’ve read the studies. I’ve experience this therapeutic reality. Studies have shown that the usage of poetry allows for individuals to let out the inner-emotions that they hold within themselves. It allows individuals to recapture their issues and to work through whatever they are going through. Now, in the case of slam poetry…this is different. Many times, people find slam poetry(performance poetry) as being highly beneficial because there is an audience present and you’re able to sit among people that are there for the same reason. It creates a bond and a family. Also, in this atmosphere there is openness and you’re able to create/re-create/and explore different personas and ways of handling your personal problems. So, I found this as being extremely moving as an individual interested in poetry/literature/the arts.
So, I read today an article that goes along with this theme of ‘why poetry’. The article is called “Why Poetry Is Necessary” by Roger Housden. And a few quotes that I liked were:
“Poetry at its best calls forth our deep being. It dares us to break free from the safe strategies of the cautious mind; it calls to us, like the wild geese, as Mary Oliver would say, from an open sky. It is a magical art, and always has been — a making of language spells designed to open our eyes, open our doors and welcome us into a bigger world, one of possibilities we may never have dared to dream of.
This is why poetry can be dangerous as well as necessary. Because we may never be the same again after reading a poem that happens to speak to our own life directly. I know that when I meet my own life in a great poem, I feel opened, clarified, confirmed somehow in what I sensed was true but had no words for. Anything that can do this is surely necessary for the fullness of a human life.
Poetry reaches with its sounds and rhythms down below the realm of the conscious mind to awaken and nourish the imagination. In his poem, “Of Asphodel, That Greeny Flower,” WC Williams says:
It is difficult
To get the news from poems
Yet men die miserably every day
Of what is found there.”
I found these lines very moving for me and extremely inspirational. I can’t say more than that because these lines just tells it all.
Of course, you can get read the full article here:
I don’t want you to ever forget
To never become too busy to forget
You are a traveler like
Tumbling up and down roads and alleys
Just trying to find your way
Thirsty for more than this world
Never quick to pick up anything
that will weigh you down
Always remember that you picked me up
along the way
And every traveler need a compass
So always keep me near
and never let