New poem published in ‘For Harriet’

My new poem There’s an entire village that lives on my head was recently published in For Harriet – a community dedicated to celebrating the fullness of Black womanhood.

There’s an entire village that lives on top of my head
At night, they gather in the wide-open space of my forehead
The elderly resting on each eyebrow, toddlers hiding behind my earlobes
They’re all waiting for me to fail
Waiting for me to unbecome the person that we all agreed that I should be
(Prettier, quieter, less of myself)
They gather for a close-up of mistakes
Things like: falling in love with the wrong man or
Disappointing my parents or
Waiting for my parents to disappoint me or
Forgetting who I really am, where I’m really from, over there and not here
I hear them sucking their teeth inside my mind, mixing languages and
Causing confusion by yelling over one another
The elders demanding respect
Whilst the young bachelors sneak in a few looks
They’re all trying to out-do each other’s high notes
Sometimes I stay quiet for days, eavesdropping on the little women
The ones that enjoy tangling my hair and making art out of my weight
There’s an entire village that lives on top of my head
I can’t drown them out in the bath
I shaved my head one summer and it only made it easier for the children to run
Sometimes I hold my breath just to see if they lose oxygen
Bleeding makes no difference either, just more scars to count
So, I learn to behave, to speak when I am spoken to and
Only eat when I am hungry and not in between the pain
And to keep my body so clean that there is nothing to gossip about
If you see me mumbling, it’s only tell them to be quiet because I am a good girl
It took a village to drag my sins out into the open
On the top of my nose where a bonfire was set and little girls ran circles around the shame
At night, the ashes were used to mark all the places that still hurt
In the morning, this is a map of how far we’ve come
Me and the village that lives on top of my head

London Short Story Prize

It finally happened! The Anthology Launch for The London Short Story Prize 2016 organised by Spread The Word took place in gorgeous St Paul’s Cathedral and it was such a surreal experience. Not only was it my first time reading my own work in front of people but it was also incredible to receive such amazing feedback from people there. This event (and being short listed) along with seeing my story in that official font has really spurred me on to keep writing realise that others might actually enjoy the absurd things in my mind that I sometimes write about.

If you’re interested in purchasing the anthology to read my story, alongside 5 other incredible tales, you can do so here.