I am regularly trolling the internet for inspiration and more so right now as i am working on my new poetry album. My current poetry obsession is Vanessa Kisuule. I don’t know whether it is the way she is able to weave her words with emotions seamlessly yet delivering them with a certain kind of ordinariness or perhaps her ability to breakdown really complex ideas on womanhood into simple stories.
Even when there is a punchline, it seems to hit you much later. Think noshing on a spicy meal where your throat starts to tingle from the heat a few minutes after you have licked the plate clean. This poem ‘Heirloom’ is certainly one of my favourites. It is a sort of deconstruction of womanhood through a generation of women. It details the spiritualising of depression to conversations about marriage as a social currency but more importantly being raised by women who have no acquaintance with the idea of self love. She says ‘ Too young to recognise the husk of a woman who did not love herself, i presumed that she did not love me’
Speaking on marriage as a social currency, she says ‘ In a home where a wife’s duty is to offer herself to her husband who comes home with breath stained with beer and foreign names, thighs become an unanswered prayer, the small of your back a choked gasp. He leaves hungry wet kisses behind your ear like the shrapnel trapped in a veterans chest. You hope against hope your offspring will not be their twisted conception’
I think my connection to her work has something to do with where i currently am in my life and with my work, trying to excavate elements of history, deconstructing normative cultural ideals and practices passed down to me through a previous generation of women. I am in a process of interrogating my own personal history and unlearning many things that i have been told. This poem ‘Heirloom’ for me says so much to how we can start to reconstruct a lot of the complex narratives on womanhood if not for a new generation, at least for ourselves.