as Addi Teacher blasts from the speakers,
little-me is slammed against the wall &
i join Jezebel in the dance of big ‘ooman.
waist in-sync with the sound. precise as planets.
small of my back reclaimed, possessed by Lilith.
i’m born again when mi ben’ ova.
nobody looks away.
wine thick, tight & fermented; best you ever taste.
the men fight for me like i am Helen of Troy.
him can’t keep composure when i hold the beat in
my hips; so cute, pretty baby, buff ting, goodas girl —
my immodesty has a mouthpiece,
a soundtrack accompanies my slackness.
i’m a consuming fiyah, sexy as hell.
spinning like a satellite dish & sent to the stars;
i am set free — taken out my mason jar.
noose loosened from my neck.
the body breathes.
the body bounces.
tonight; riddim is king
& the black woman is finally God.
emancipation inna di dancehall
“I see the dancehall as female fertility rite. So that the female body is the central figure… this transgressive projection of the body by women I see as something positive - a way of African women asserting their bodies in a culture where Black women’s bodies are not valued.”
finding hidden places of freedom is vital in a world that actively hates all you are. i wrote emancipation inna di dancehall to document & honour a ritual that has done so much for me. the sensual aspects of myself i’d kept secret due to fear, shame & the indoctrination of modesty are welcomed & worshipped in dancehall spaces. I would say i become a different person when whining my waist, but i just become who i already was.
In conversation with lyds pertaining to AS A FORM OF:
Where were you mentally/emotionally/spiritually/physically when the thought of this piece manifested?
I’d been on a night-out that weekend with a good friend AND it was all i could think about. a couple of days later, i attended the inaugural Kin Elsewhere; a writing group for Black women based in London, and emancipation inna di dancehall literally flowed from my fingers. it was as if it was stored in my body, waiting for me to write it.
"it was as if it was stored in my body, waiting for me to write it."
What does liberation look like? Feel like? Can liberation take the shape of resistance or vice versa?
i equate liberation with the ability for proper breath. any place the body, mind, soul, spirit can breathe at its fullest is a space of freedom. its beauty lies in its simple reverence for the truth. i can be liberated lying in the sun, or laughing with my mother, or writing a poem, or being in love.
regarding liberation and resistance, i feel that in this "white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy", to quote bell hooks, that bases itself on deception and shame ridden blockage; liberation and resistance are inevitably intertwined. the liberated person is automatically resisting irrespective of their intended aims.
Can liberation and resistance be considered revolutionary acts?
within the rotten hierarchies of humanity, Black women breathing is revolutionary. Black women knowing the truth is revolutionary. i yearn for the day when being fully human is recognized as normal praxis for us but till then, all we do as Black women will be revolutionary.
In what ways can we collectively amplify and embrace the forms of liberation and resistance that are often overlooked? The everyday practices, the subconscious acts, the small steps that also feel liberating?
we must focus on our daughters and little sisters, especially as we figure out how to liberate ourselves. my mandate as a poet/writer is to create works that can be, as nayyirah waheed says, ‘a friend closer than breath’ to young Black women. that can be a place of freedom for them. where they don’t have to fight. where they can be seen and announced and known. known in ways that only songs and poems have known me. nothing motivates me more than imagining a sixteen-year-old baby girl with braids and little gold hoops taking one of my books out of her local library and seeing herself for the first time. it keeps me going when i’ve thought of giving up. changing structures means
nothing if we don’t also change hearts.
"changing structures means nothing if we don’t also change hearts."