The Way Out Is Through

One midsummer night in 2016, I sat down to my daily work of writing an attempt at memoir. In a moment of inspiration, I began writing a piece on different kinds of love (eros, philia, etc.). In the afterglow of 3 pages of flow, I felt the familiar sense of release that often hit me, the self-satisfaction of being able to pen down feelings long stuck and unnamed. As much as I wanted to “set it and forget it” as I would do for chapters at a time, this one would not let up on me.

What a difference a year made.

People change. Feelings change. Motivations and purposes change. Hearts move out of alignment. A spotlight shines in the self’s crawlspace on those beliefs and events mildewed and dusty.  When I woke from a long bout of malaise and periods of breathing in resentments, there was the realization that those words would have been better served if they applied to me and all the ways I show myself love. There was the realization that I’m much too old for acting like a petulant child when I don’t get my way. There was the realization that stonewalling or walking away in heat of a moment is unacceptable, that not asking for what I want always yields nothing, that silences are as good as acceptances that can lead to bitterness if unchecked. There was the realization that I may be on borrowed time with no more chances for oopsies and do-overs regarding matters of the heart, mine or anyone else’s.





Reflections on March, Hopes for April

Apologies for the delay. Student essays and journals have shifted in various piles from the left of my desk to the right. Research papers on Greek gods and goddesses have nestled into a hutch on the left side along with create-your-own-magic-shop posters. Qing Ming Jie (Tomb-sweeping day) is nearly upon us. Suffice it to say that this April, I look forward to celebrating one more revolution around the sun, polishing my next diamond and doing some tomb sweeping of my own.

As the cherry blossoms of April bloom, it’s a perfect time to reflect on my March. My Blackest week in Shanghai kicked off with a dear friend’s birthday party at the swanky new Atelier, a stellar John Legend concert in the middle of things and the Shanghai Black Panther premiere party (replete with a tailor-made Ankara dress). Countless moments of Black excellence. Countless numbers of beautiful Black expats from the Diaspora. My heart runneth over!

In the spirit of Springtime renewal, may you shed the dregs and spring forth! May the bright sun increase your own light. May your grass stay green and growing. May your blossoms ever bloom!

The “Rihanna of Poetry” on Frank Ocean and Enjambment

Chicago Review of Books

Shayla Lawson’s newest book is I Think I’m Ready to See Frank Ocean, published by Saturnalia Books this month. As she says below, the book is “a companion to Frank Ocean’s musical catalog,” though I love it with very little knowledge of Frank Ocean’s music. The most I know is from her Salon review of Frank Ocean’s Endless. But all I need are the poems. A recent MacDowell and Yaddo fellow, Lawson is one of the most exciting poets working today, launching bold, multi-medium approaches to her books (she paired PANTONE with a perfume she created with Age of Earth Collective, and is releasing an EP with the Oceanographers for I Think I’m Ready to See Frank Ocean). Her poetry has appeared in Tin House, Guernica, The Offing, and many other journals. She’s currently working with Ross Gay on The Tenderness Project.

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