I started to create meaning for simple things and I developed the courage to let go of that which had no meaning or was beyond my power. I would not say "I found myself through this book," it sounds very cliche. My perception of this idea of 'self' has advanced and I believe that the word, 'self' limits the sum of my actions and personality in many ways. Instead I will say that I became more conscious of my personality and behavior.
About 2 years ago, I unintentionally started writing my second book. It did not end the way that I started it. This book combines the expression of my thoughts as a female, as a feminist, as a story-teller, as a listener and as a writer.
Writing this book changed my perception of my experiences. I started to create meaning for simple things and I developed the courage to let go of that which had no meaning or was beyond my power. I would not say "I found myself through this book," it sounds very cliche. My perception of this idea of 'self' has advanced and I believe that the word, 'self' limits the sum of my actions and personality in many ways. Instead I will say that I became more conscious of my personality and behavior.
As female, I feel empowered and angry, but in a positive way. I remember the first time that I felt this way. I was about 14 years old and I overheard an older male visitor boast, saying that "...My wife dares not stand if I tell her to seat, if I put water in her mouth in the morning and return at night, I must meet it the way I have left it..."
Upon hearing these words, I felt a sort of heaviness for the woman he was talking about. I wanted to walk up to him, wag my index finger on his face and make him take back his words. I paced up and down my room and kept venting my anger to my sister. And of course I said that I will never allow someone to treat or talk about me this way, like a thing, a furniture. I did not go to meet him and I was partially angry because even if I had the courage to face him, all that I would know to say is, "It is wrong to treat a human being that way, let alone your wife!" I did not know why it was wrong but it bitterly felt that way.
About two months later, I stumbled upon Chimamanda's video titled "We should all be feminist". I was so excited to know that the rush of anger I felt upon hearing that man's words had a diagnosis, feminist. Although I had little knowledge about this topic, I was particularly excited that the next time I heard some sexist shit, at least I have other words to say than "you are wrong!"
As a feminist, my inspiration to explore unapologetically has increased. I started reading a lot of books about the topic, I took classes like Psychology of Women, I did spoken word of poems about women's liberation, I did presentations about women's oppression, I encouraged women and appreciated them more, in private and public conversations, I also talked to more men and explained things to them if they asked.
As a writer, I became loud, witty, blunt, free, rebellious, passionate, petty, unafraid and unashamed. In this upcoming anthology, I allow myself to be wild unlike in my first published book, Heartbeat. When I wrote Heartbeat, I was very uncertain of what I wanted, so I wrote poetry like everyone else did, which I later resented. I was naive, and I forgot to own what I wrote.
Unlike with Heartbeat, I spent a lot of time with this upcoming collection and it feels like mine. I have read the book more than 50 times and each time I finish a poem or short story, in my head I say, "this is what I want to say/write and this is how I want to say/write it." I chose to be honest and truthful. In some of the poems, I chose to express my thoughts as if I were drunk or as if I my mouth had no filter of norms and expectations.
Some part of the book stemmed out of things that I have failed to express in person. Many parts of the collection were inspired by my actual conversations with people and some, conversations with myself. A lot of it is about stories that women shared with any audience that I have been a part of, but in my own words as if I experienced it. It is more of give me your story and let me make it mine and set you free. This collection is for women, to inspire them, I try to avoid being cliche by saying "to give them a voice" but I will say it is to reveal their evolution and make their pain as well as their joys relatable. It is for men too, for men who care about women and care to treat them in a just way.
This upcoming collection is not like traditional poetry, it is creative, playful, and rebellious. In some places it is funny and in some, melancholic. It is not comparable to my first collection and the growth is evident. It shows the influences of Chimamanda Adichie, Jessica Valenti, Roxanne Gay, Kat Savage, Rupi Kaur, Ijeoma Umbinyou, and many other powerful female writers. It also marks the influence of a male friend, my partner in 'literary crimes', a devoted feminist, Kanyinsola Olorunnisola. His intentions towards women in his writings and his actions taught me a new way to see and treat myself with high expectations as a female and as a feminist regardless of the sexist environment or situations that I must exist in. He is compassionate and hopeful for the right treatment of women and of young female children. I count myself fortunate to know him and to learn about feminism from a male's perspective.
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© Oyindamola Shoola 2019