Spotlighting Pan-African Poetry

Biography

Take Back The Night

Enlarge poem

There are few things more beautiful than the sunset

How light scatters across the horizon

the way the sun torments the sky with this final

gesture of beauty

is enough to make your heart flutter

and it does

Butterflies dance across your belly and take flight

It is nighttime

and somewhere a woman is afraid for her life

there are no metaphors for that

She becomes an unarmed soldier

in a wide open battlefield

in a war she never asked for

She will remember

the lessons drilled into her head

from the day she entered the world

already kicking

and screaming

Don’t talk to strangers

Do not enter their car

Never leave your drink unattended

No means no

Your body is a temple

These lessons are only relevant

when you are given a choice

There are no negotiations

between a switchblade and a chokehold

They will ask you how short your skirt was

Did you smile a little too wide?

Hold his gaze a little too long?

Maybe your body was saying yes

even when your mouth whispered no

maybe it was the whisper

maybe he didn’t catch it

that almost inaudible resistance

maybe you should have taken the main street

never walk through the back alley

it must have been the way you walked

hips moving free as if your body

might actually

be your own

This is the simple truth

sometimes strangers are not strangers at all

They are our brothers

a friend

a friend of a friend

a good Samaritan

with a smile that reminded you of someone

you must’ve met somewhere

Sometimes it is in your own car

Sometimes it is your own drink

with your grip firm around the glass

sometimes it happens quicker than a

no

and this temple

becomes a place for broken men

to practice new types of blasphemy

Often

we are fully clothed

hoody, sweatpants and running shoes

minding our business on the main street

on the same route we take every single day

around the corner

from our front doors

inside our own homes

where shadows turn friends

into predator

and resistance becomes merely a suggestion

It is nighttime

and somewhere a child is born

she will inherit fear like a birthright

administered intravenously

every drip drop an unsolicited affirmation

that tells her

your body

is not your own is not your own is not your own

Somewhere a woman

is taking an inventory of herself

of breasts

of hips

of thighs

her eyes are scanning the streets

doing the mathematics

of how many hurried steps

she will need to take

to arrive home intact

She is negotiating her body

when no is not enough

She is watching

as shadows turn her lover’s face

into someone she doesn’t recognize

She is taking the last sip of a funny tasting drink

and suddenly everything is unfamiliar

But at least for tonight

we become the watchmen

an army where no one gets left behind

we cover all her blind spots

and we are not afraid

to take back the night

Titilope

Featured Poem:

Icarus

Enlarge poem

I once saw a man on fire

a gasoline soaked rubber tire around his neck

arms flailing like he was trying to fly

but I was too young to differentiate

horror from spectacle

so I asked my mother

why

with all the people that surrounded him

nobody brought water?

She was navigating a different kind of spectacle

in the bumper to bumper traffic

that lay before us

she told me

“Shhh, don’t look at it

we’ll be past this soon”

I tried not to look directly at the flames

licking at his skin

or the way his mouth

froze open without a sound

like an unanswered question

and even now

this memory is colored by the normalcy of it

how life went on all around him

this thief

Icarus

fallen down amongst us

This is the way it has always been

we shield our eyes from the flames

but our country is on fire

every corner a smoldering heat

a slow creeping combustion

we have flown too close to the sun

with wings made only of feather and wax

Royal Jordanian Airlines, 171

ADC Airline, 151

EAS Airlines, 148

Bellview Airlines, 117

Sosoliso Airlines, 103

Dana Airlines, 153

and counting

And while greedy mouths continue

to blow on embers

we will cast another prayer up to God

question him in every language we speak

ask him why us

again

We will plan another memorial

another tribute song

another cautionary tale

another reminder to do better

next time

One day

even this will pass

we will forget to argue

about whether the aircraft

was 22 years old or 21 and a half

We will forget about

a 3 year old girl

who will never know her mother

whole families wiped out in one swoop

the wedding that never was

our memories will betray us yet again

it will tell us

“Shhh..don’t look at it

we’ll be past this soon”

We will settle into a new normal

the hum of generators will num us

we will remain unmoved

by 4 hours of gridlock traffic

the sounds of exploding churches

will be just another Sunday morning

this will be our legacy

how we were so blinded by the light

that we flew head first into the fire

so when our children ask us

what it was like

we will tell them

it was a dangerous gamble

between the sun and the sea

and we to afraid to swim the distance

chose instead to spread

our faulty wings

and fly

towards the fire of the sun

Titilope_Sonuga

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (6)
  • Pride (2)
  • Optimism (2)
  • Anger (4)
  • Delight (0)
  • Inspiration (2)
  • Reflection (6)
  • Captivation (5)
  • Peace (1)
  • Amusement (2)
  • Sorrow (8)
  • Vigour (1)
  • Hope (2)
  • Sadness (2)
  • Fear (6)
  • Jubilation (1)

Comments

Your email address will not be published.

Biography

When Titilope first stepped to the microphone in 2007 at a local open mic, to gracing stages from Lagos to Cape Town, New York to California, Edmonton to Toronto and places in between, her goal has been to remind people that the ties that bind us transcend all of the borders we have created. She will tell you that no poem is brand new. In the telling and re-telling we are reminded that someone has walked this path before.

Titilope is a Nigerian born civil engineer, author and spoken word poet and the winner of the 2011 Canadian Authors’ Association Emerging Author Award for her first collection of poems, Down To Earth. In 2013 Titilope released her first spoken word album Mother Tongue and her second collection of poetry, Abscess, in 2014 with Geko Publishing in South Africa.

She was a resident artist at the 2011 Yemoya Artist Residency under the mentorship of acclaimed Jamaican-Canadian Dub poet and educator, D’bi Young. She was the recipient of the 2013 RISE award for achievement in the arts and the 2014 National Black Coalition of Canada Fil Fraser Award.

She has featured on stages across Canada and internationally, performing with Sonia Sanchez, Jayne Cortez, Yusef Komunyakaa, Obiora Odechukwu, Bassey Ikpi, Twin Poets and Offiong Bassey, at the 2011 Achebe Colloquium on Africa at Brown University. In 2013, Titilope was selected from over 200 writers to meet legendary poet and author, Dr. Maya Angelou.

She is the creator of Rouge Poetry, a weekly open mic that has feature local and international poets and musicians for over 5 years. She is the founding member of the Breath In Poetry Collective, home of the 2011 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word (CFSW) championship winning Edmonton Slam Team. Titilope also adds acting to her list of accomplishments, starring as Eki in the Ndani TV hit series, Gidi Up that will air across Africa in 2014.

Even with the soil of continents beneath her feet, the stories that are surer with each passing year, she has not forgotten where it all began. She will tell you it is simple; when your heart is cracked open and a multitude of words begin to leak from your chest, before you stain everything you dare to touch, put it in a poem.

Titilope

Titilope_Sonuga
Titilope_Sonuga

Biography

When Titilope first stepped to the microphone in 2007 at a local open mic, to gracing stages from Lagos to Cape Town, New York to California, Edmonton to Toronto and places in between, her goal has been to remind people that the ties that bind us transcend all of the borders we have created. She will tell you that no poem is brand new. In the telling and re-telling we are reminded that someone has walked this path before.

Titilope is a Nigerian born civil engineer, author and spoken word poet and the winner of the 2011 Canadian Authors’ Association Emerging Author Award for her first collection of poems, Down To Earth. In 2013 Titilope released her first spoken word album Mother Tongue and her second collection of poetry, Abscess, in 2014 with Geko Publishing in South Africa.

She was a resident artist at the 2011 Yemoya Artist Residency under the mentorship of acclaimed Jamaican-Canadian Dub poet and educator, D’bi Young. She was the recipient of the 2013 RISE award for achievement in the arts and the 2014 National Black Coalition of Canada Fil Fraser Award.

She has featured on stages across Canada and internationally, performing with Sonia Sanchez, Jayne Cortez, Yusef Komunyakaa, Obiora Odechukwu, Bassey Ikpi, Twin Poets and Offiong Bassey, at the 2011 Achebe Colloquium on Africa at Brown University. In 2013, Titilope was selected from over 200 writers to meet legendary poet and author, Dr. Maya Angelou.

She is the creator of Rouge Poetry, a weekly open mic that has feature local and international poets and musicians for over 5 years. She is the founding member of the Breath In Poetry Collective, home of the 2011 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word (CFSW) championship winning Edmonton Slam Team. Titilope also adds acting to her list of accomplishments, starring as Eki in the Ndani TV hit series, Gidi Up that will air across Africa in 2014.

Even with the soil of continents beneath her feet, the stories that are surer with each passing year, she has not forgotten where it all began. She will tell you it is simple; when your heart is cracked open and a multitude of words begin to leak from your chest, before you stain everything you dare to touch, put it in a poem.

Take Back The Night

Enlarge poem

There are few things more beautiful than the sunset

How light scatters across the horizon

the way the sun torments the sky with this final

gesture of beauty

is enough to make your heart flutter

and it does

Butterflies dance across your belly and take flight

It is nighttime

and somewhere a woman is afraid for her life

there are no metaphors for that

She becomes an unarmed soldier

in a wide open battlefield

in a war she never asked for

She will remember

the lessons drilled into her head

from the day she entered the world

already kicking

and screaming

Don’t talk to strangers

Do not enter their car

Never leave your drink unattended

No means no

Your body is a temple

These lessons are only relevant

when you are given a choice

There are no negotiations

between a switchblade and a chokehold

They will ask you how short your skirt was

Did you smile a little too wide?

Hold his gaze a little too long?

Maybe your body was saying yes

even when your mouth whispered no

maybe it was the whisper

maybe he didn’t catch it

that almost inaudible resistance

maybe you should have taken the main street

never walk through the back alley

it must have been the way you walked

hips moving free as if your body

might actually

be your own

This is the simple truth

sometimes strangers are not strangers at all

They are our brothers

a friend

a friend of a friend

a good Samaritan

with a smile that reminded you of someone

you must’ve met somewhere

Sometimes it is in your own car

Sometimes it is your own drink

with your grip firm around the glass

sometimes it happens quicker than a

no

and this temple

becomes a place for broken men

to practice new types of blasphemy

Often

we are fully clothed

hoody, sweatpants and running shoes

minding our business on the main street

on the same route we take every single day

around the corner

from our front doors

inside our own homes

where shadows turn friends

into predator

and resistance becomes merely a suggestion

It is nighttime

and somewhere a child is born

she will inherit fear like a birthright

administered intravenously

every drip drop an unsolicited affirmation

that tells her

your body

is not your own is not your own is not your own

Somewhere a woman

is taking an inventory of herself

of breasts

of hips

of thighs

her eyes are scanning the streets

doing the mathematics

of how many hurried steps

she will need to take

to arrive home intact

She is negotiating her body

when no is not enough

She is watching

as shadows turn her lover’s face

into someone she doesn’t recognize

She is taking the last sip of a funny tasting drink

and suddenly everything is unfamiliar

But at least for tonight

we become the watchmen

an army where no one gets left behind

we cover all her blind spots

and we are not afraid

to take back the night

Featured Poem:

Icarus

Enlarge poem

I once saw a man on fire

a gasoline soaked rubber tire around his neck

arms flailing like he was trying to fly

but I was too young to differentiate

horror from spectacle

so I asked my mother

why

with all the people that surrounded him

nobody brought water?

She was navigating a different kind of spectacle

in the bumper to bumper traffic

that lay before us

she told me

“Shhh, don’t look at it

we’ll be past this soon”

I tried not to look directly at the flames

licking at his skin

or the way his mouth

froze open without a sound

like an unanswered question

and even now

this memory is colored by the normalcy of it

how life went on all around him

this thief

Icarus

fallen down amongst us

This is the way it has always been

we shield our eyes from the flames

but our country is on fire

every corner a smoldering heat

a slow creeping combustion

we have flown too close to the sun

with wings made only of feather and wax

Royal Jordanian Airlines, 171

ADC Airline, 151

EAS Airlines, 148

Bellview Airlines, 117

Sosoliso Airlines, 103

Dana Airlines, 153

and counting

And while greedy mouths continue

to blow on embers

we will cast another prayer up to God

question him in every language we speak

ask him why us

again

We will plan another memorial

another tribute song

another cautionary tale

another reminder to do better

next time

One day

even this will pass

we will forget to argue

about whether the aircraft

was 22 years old or 21 and a half

We will forget about

a 3 year old girl

who will never know her mother

whole families wiped out in one swoop

the wedding that never was

our memories will betray us yet again

it will tell us

“Shhh..don’t look at it

we’ll be past this soon”

We will settle into a new normal

the hum of generators will num us

we will remain unmoved

by 4 hours of gridlock traffic

the sounds of exploding churches

will be just another Sunday morning

this will be our legacy

how we were so blinded by the light

that we flew head first into the fire

so when our children ask us

what it was like

we will tell them

it was a dangerous gamble

between the sun and the sea

and we to afraid to swim the distance

chose instead to spread

our faulty wings

and fly

towards the fire of the sun

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (6)
  • Pride (2)
  • Optimism (2)
  • Anger (4)
  • Delight (0)
  • Inspiration (2)
  • Reflection (6)
  • Captivation (5)
  • Peace (1)
  • Amusement (2)
  • Sorrow (8)
  • Vigour (1)
  • Hope (2)
  • Sadness (2)
  • Fear (6)
  • Jubilation (1)

Take Back The Night

Enlarge poem

There are few things more beautiful than the sunset

How light scatters across the horizon

the way the sun torments the sky with this final

gesture of beauty

is enough to make your heart flutter

and it does

Butterflies dance across your belly and take flight

It is nighttime

and somewhere a woman is afraid for her life

there are no metaphors for that

She becomes an unarmed soldier

in a wide open battlefield

in a war she never asked for

She will remember

the lessons drilled into her head

from the day she entered the world

already kicking

and screaming

Don’t talk to strangers

Do not enter their car

Never leave your drink unattended

No means no

Your body is a temple

These lessons are only relevant

when you are given a choice

There are no negotiations

between a switchblade and a chokehold

They will ask you how short your skirt was

Did you smile a little too wide?

Hold his gaze a little too long?

Maybe your body was saying yes

even when your mouth whispered no

maybe it was the whisper

maybe he didn’t catch it

that almost inaudible resistance

maybe you should have taken the main street

never walk through the back alley

it must have been the way you walked

hips moving free as if your body

might actually

be your own

This is the simple truth

sometimes strangers are not strangers at all

They are our brothers

a friend

a friend of a friend

a good Samaritan

with a smile that reminded you of someone

you must’ve met somewhere

Sometimes it is in your own car

Sometimes it is your own drink

with your grip firm around the glass

sometimes it happens quicker than a

no

and this temple

becomes a place for broken men

to practice new types of blasphemy

Often

we are fully clothed

hoody, sweatpants and running shoes

minding our business on the main street

on the same route we take every single day

around the corner

from our front doors

inside our own homes

where shadows turn friends

into predator

and resistance becomes merely a suggestion

It is nighttime

and somewhere a child is born

she will inherit fear like a birthright

administered intravenously

every drip drop an unsolicited affirmation

that tells her

your body

is not your own is not your own is not your own

Somewhere a woman

is taking an inventory of herself

of breasts

of hips

of thighs

her eyes are scanning the streets

doing the mathematics

of how many hurried steps

she will need to take

to arrive home intact

She is negotiating her body

when no is not enough

She is watching

as shadows turn her lover’s face

into someone she doesn’t recognize

She is taking the last sip of a funny tasting drink

and suddenly everything is unfamiliar

But at least for tonight

we become the watchmen

an army where no one gets left behind

we cover all her blind spots

and we are not afraid

to take back the night

Comments

Your email address will not be published.