Tag Archives: voice

#365 ~ Death of the Writer 365

I was 18 when I started this blog. I was sitting in a room, it was clothed in shadow, with a yellow desk lamp, the same one that illuminates my food stained keyboard now, glaring at the screen, as I Skyped my older brother. I was depressed. Not in a suicidal manner, but I had lost any spark that ever glared behind newly framed eyes. I was apathetic. And my chest was burning. It was burning because I had this scream that was locked up deep inside of me, and it was tearing the enamel off my teeth, scraping the bristles off my tongue, inflaming the sores I had chewed into the lining of my cheeks. It was my voice. Disabled, disused and highly confused, and it lay mangled and crying in the back of my throat, trying to make me scream to release it. But I had no constructive way of doing so.

So came the idea of this blog. Coming to the end, albeit a month late and not in the fashion I wanted – this is more like the salutary face-plant I ended my first-year of Uni with –  I have arrived in a heap of words, and thoughts, and comments, and life lessons, here, in the last post, on the last day of January. And I have grown.

It’s bizarre. This blog has seen me age three times. From 18 to 19 and now to 20. When I began this blog, I tried to be extremely covert and dissembling. I wrote critical pieces about the representation of ‘Africa’ in the media. I spoke about my broken heart for the dispossessed, for sex trafficked women. My pain at the industry that promotes prostitution. I began to voice the niggling sensations that clawed at my mind about identity and being a post-colonial being, a British Nigerian who is neither and both and somewhere in the middle. I talked about being tall, having big feet, being a gawky student, not able to get down in ‘da club.’ And then I began to write poetry?! Some of it was at 3am in the morning, raw with spelling mistakes and odd imagery. Some of it was down right contrite. A lot of it was self-indulgent and a poor man’s escape from reading the news and commenting in a socio-political manner. I began writing Life Lessons, the easiest way to get a quick post done. I travelled to South Africa and worked with Ithemba Projects. I came back and was unable to write. I then re-wrote Psalm 119  in a series of meditative posts. At each centenary mark I worked with my sister and produced 100 words and photo – and that was a beautiful experience.

I re-created my identity in this blog. I discovered, I destroyed and I forced out a voice on this webpage. I became a woman. And I came to the end of my 365 days writing. And it really was a process that killed the writer. It is the Death of the Writer… and the birth of a person who has re-learnt how to speak, and found a multitude of avenues to express her voice. And that voice is wholly polyphonic, just like the truth, just like my identity. It bursts out, it sings, it cries, it laughs, it writes, it speaks and it has learnt – most importantly – how to be silent.

So where do I go from here? Well, in the mix of this journey, I have begun to write for a wonderful women’s magazine called Magnify Musings -so check that out for more of my work.

Oh, and that poetry that just appeared? Well…check out the video below.

I wondered whether, amongst ‘the pile of shit’ that no doubt clutters this blog, if you, the reader, would ever find a piece of gold. I hope you have. If you haven’t… search harder.

So…How to end this journey?

I bow out, with grace. Born on a Thursday 20 years ago, I end this blog on a Thursday, and look forward to the many more years, strung together with words, that are yet to come.

Good night, God Bless, and a lot of love.

Thank you for walking with me.

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#353 ~ Silent Gestures Elide My Weapon

You won’t know what I’m capable of until I’ve done it … so I do more and speak less

What is it?

It’s not about whether or not you know if i’m capable…

I spent so long as a child, thighs pressed firmly into the concrete ground, as tiny stones mimicking granite and quartz rose impressed themselves upon my tender

flesh, embedding grooves and disfigured tattoos against the supple tone of my impressionable

skin, and i squinted with lash shaded eyes at the silver disc that hung in the pale blue primary school

sky, dreaming about what I could be

Because it never was who.

I wondered what I could be and whether it would entertain the category of worth that we all seem to perceive, subconsciously aware of the innate deceit that plagues that concept of maturity and with it success, excess –

For speech is an action.

Once again you elide my weapon, specifically chosen, bestowed upon me as a precious sword engraved with golden gilt, bejewelled by the dexterity of a tongue and the intellect of a wit that has surpassed the bondage of chains

that strip one’s mind like a flayed hide of any

power to control this spiralling world concerned and fuelled by the need to attain each individuals selfish desire…

Yet when I speak i declare the power of a word to transform and transfer, my action I bind within my speech as with the sound of my voice I am relentlessly setting the captives free, proclaiming victory and instituting justice. As I flash my teeth I shine down

beauty and a fierce hope – you only wish you could cope with the unbound sounds of my voice as I break your silent action and in the process I don’t bring it but give it life.

What did you say?

I spoke right? You won’t know what i’m capable of until i’ve done it – but if I remain silent you’ll never look to see the gestures that are lost in the blanket of an omnipresent silence

Besides, as I sat staring at that primary school sun, buttocks pressed into the concrete ground cemented for activities that would be ‘fun’, i knew that it didn’t matter if you knew what I was capable of – in my mind i’d already done the action, right now i’m just illustrating the person.

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#345 ~ Laura Clemo


ClemoSultry and subtle, it isn’t often you hear modern music that reverberates with the tones of a bygone era of jazzy soul. Just turned 22 and a recent graduate of Cambridge University, Laura Clemo mightn’t look like your typical ‘voice,’ but when she sings your heart can’t help but weep in gratitude. There’s a haunting quality that hangs delicately around her acoustic sets. I had the privilege of watching her at a summer ball last year, and though she sat alone on a stool, guitar in hand, she was riveting. An honesty coloured with a depth only attained as the illusion of naiveté begins to fade, her lyrics are wry and penetrating.

Smooth, sultry and personal, there’s a hint of Melody Gardot, a lighter Adele with a bit of Eva Cassidy thrown in to the mix, but more importantly, a large dose of the phenomenal artist herself.  Laura Clemo is one of those musicians who could so easily be humming on the peripheries of music circles, but if you get a chance to listen to her music, you will most certainly find yourself soaring. New voice, young talent and a future of potential: watch this space.

Check out her Facebook page by clicking here and her newest release (which inspired this post) Save Me, below.

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#137 ~ Speak the Word

I sit alone in the vicinities of my mind

typing long words.

they strive to describe what i am not feeling inside

because that’s the heart of it –

the task of explanation

Who cares, or rather, as my Daddy taught me to say, who minds

what you are feeling, whether you are filled with pride or humility

an embarrassing rage that speaks of simplistic stupidity?

there is no talent, in speaking to me about those pronounceable words

there is no skill in presenting me with a myriad of thesaurus sourced euphemisms that explore your definable explanation of a long word.

Stop wasting my time presenting me with anaphoric rhymes

to illuminate this caged mind, literate in the arts of basic signs

not hemmed in by the metaphysics of a sacredly rhetorical design.

You clack away at the keyboard, chiming out a discordant harmony

that some pretentious [insert long word only found in the OED which isn’t concise but spliced into sections of archaic symbols which people can’t even be bothered to define] –

decided to call minimalist, or surrealist music, but to my ears it is just that: discordant chords with neither rhyme nor reason, in both the wrong time signature and season

trying to create a melody out of grating bones that evoke a macabre remedy to the deprived eyes that glare at these very long words.

Let me give you some advice.

Say it

Simply

quietly

just as it appears in the tangled thoughts that think they are special for resembling chaos

Say it.

Simply

quietly

just as you feel before you try to re-write it for a better rapport with the PhD lecturer who lives on your polished floor

Just say it.

that struggle is the sound of exactly what you are feeling inside

as the clacking keyboard falls gently to the floor, sprinkling into broken glass

which sings, like the lark beckoning the distant dawn.

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#129 ~ Despair

I fervently believed there was power in the written word

When the pen scratched a sign that translated, after being deciphered, into an intelligible idea

Communicating across the vast oceans of time, culture, between individuals

Those that have treaded these streets, and may fly over these roofs.

Yet criticism came and with it academics

Destroying the structure, implementing their own concerns and ideas.

Suddenly it became a vacuous sign, to be raped, impregnated with our own designs

Ideas, beliefs, reinterpreting, translating

Until language became an arbitrary concept, wholly undefined.

The stench of black coffee, the dent in cushioned sofas,

the hail of rain stroking the window-pane

And the elucidation that none of it exists.

I despair.

I despair

I believed there was something more

When I found myself in the writings of Austen, Ba and Crashaw

when Shange’s spoken word brought me to a new rainbow

and Atta gave  voice to a city that existed in the realm

Of something I yearned for.

I believe there is power in the written word. I believe it is more

Where did your passion go?

When did I turn into such a bore?

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#99 ~ An Ossified Cage

I once asked a friend if I was a passionate person. He paused on the phone, so I re-phrased my question. He replied very softly. “Yes. Yes you’re passionate, but not fiery-passionate.” I was mildly disappointed. I wanted to be a burning light of passion consuming everything, setting other people on fire. “You’re more like the water. Slow, steady, sometimes getting whipped up, but there is a depth to your passion, a longevity, an intense profundity and power.”

There are very few things I like doing on request. I will still do them, but begrudgingly, laconically, with varying degrees of irritation. There are a variety of things, sometimes the same things I get requested to do, which I love when I’ve made the initial choice. When I perform those tasks, participate in those actions, I give my everything. When I sing, when I really sing and worship, it doesn’t come from my vocal chords, but deep, deep inside the tissues of my heart. It comes from a quietly raging place within me, and it grows taking on a life and form of its own that cannot be contained. In those pure moments, my anxiety about other people’s thoughts and opinions are buffeted out of the window of my consciousness. My voice rips out loud, long, strong, covered in a myriad of emotions, thoughts, a polyphonic expression of who I am.

My rib cage becomes like a prison, which my fleshy heart pours itself against, tears at, rails and tries to snap, to break free and leap out into the sound waves that surround me in a harmonic aura of light. The cage grows tight, my lungs are squeezing, straining to push everything, push my heart out of my mouth and into the ether, the other world.

I know at times it is vital to be conscious of other people, how your presence, your sound, your being affects them. I spend so much of my life reinforcing that internal prison, to make myself acceptable, to mould into a shape that benefits and is conducive to other people. I shut down, silence, redirect, or just whisper.

But sometimes, I just wish, there was that place to be completely free, but not alone. To let rip and pour out my heart in song, in shouts, in speaking loud, and for a moment, surrounded by people I love, people who are also in that place of worship, to crush that ossified prison cell and step out, ringing loud and clear.

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#98 ~ SelahSue

Rough, ragged, raw. Those three adjectives just brush the corners of the voice of Belgian artist SelahSue. Encountering her after a stumble through the world of Youtube I had to stop and take a look around. Inspired by funk, pop and reggae music, the 22-year-old cites Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu as influences and you can hear that in her Euro-fusion voice and Lauryn-esque chord structures. Yet, there is something exceedingly haunting and uncanny about her half-formed voice which emerges like sharp bursts from her throat before being chopped off, her mouth finishing the sound in silence.

When SelahSue sings, the intention is focused acutely in her eyes, in the pained expression of her mouth, and the slightly mis-placed timing of her chords. Yet it is endearing, it’s strangely seductive and painful. I’m aware that the music world is veering very widely between commercial success and the avant-garde, the ‘undefinable.’ There is a new interest in artists who are like musical versions of Jackson Pollock paintings – the classics among us wonder whether they really are singers, musicians, if they actually have a talent or are just there for some slightly precocious person to appear ‘ahead of the game.’ Perhaps some may see SelahSue this way, but even after you’ve finished listening and maybe even critiqued on the harshness of her vocals, the raw, almost bloody-hacking tone of her voice, the awkward formations of her mouth, and the slightly unfocused poignancy of her look, you go away and hear a faint echo drawing you back in. There is a mellifluous attitude that shapes the movement of her voice, and a fresh authenticity in her lyrics. Stripped, naked, and oddly wholesome, her music seems to reach out a gentle hand and stroke deep inside, before disappearing like an ephemeral whisp of smoke.

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