Throughout the month of May, the Writer In Residence area of our website will feature work by students from EmersonWRITES, a free creative writing for Boston teenagers. To learn more, please read this introduction by Mary Kovaleski Byrnes.
Teacher’s introduction by Amy Fant
Serina joined our “Music of Language” poetry class in January. What I love about Serina’s poem, “A Black Woman’s Motto,” is that she dwells both in what she is, but more importantly, what she is not. In a way, it is an un-naming, an ability to write beyond labels into something extraordinary: not just a someone, but a woman. Her poem is a powerful discovery of a name, a motto, for herself, and an anthem for others.
A Black Woman’s Motto
My skin drowns in pure red wine,
Lips sweet as nectar from a rose bush.
My strength is a set of two gold stones,
Never fully broken, but I am lemons.
Lemons without sugar to mix the sour
Only prayers to help us breathe
Twisted in words that offend and abuse
Compared to the half-naked girl on the Lexus.
I refuse to be a vision of a man’s physical wishes.
I don’t call myself a ‘Bad B.’
No dog, I am beautiful.
And for the last time, this is my hair!
Even if it wasn’t, why do you care?
I am not angry, rude, or ghetto.
Don’t let my voice or style mix with your assumptions
Or the degrading rap music videos you see
Determine who I am or what I want to be.
Dreams fluttering beyond my horizons
Separating the stereotypes of my black women
Not only am I human, I am phenomenal.
Black mothers, sisters, daughters, lawyers,
Doctors, Scientist, Musicians, poets
Even the First Lady of the United States.
What can I say, we are great.
But we are subject in society’s misconceptions.
I can no longer stay silent because
They disrespect and mess with my mentality.
You think I can’t hold on with my pride?
And let weakness determine my choice in life?
You are wrong.
I am strong, with iron growing inside my bones,
Fire spitting out through my eyes, a brain to cast
Out every opportunity that you don’t think I can do.
Well, let me tell you,
My hips, my legs, my behind, my breasts, my mind
My color is a part of me.
Black women are precious creatures who cannot be defined.
Rhythm and Poetry
I am the rise of these hood streets
Where bullets are sour and blood is sweet
Each day, each story is up to me
To make it known for our history
Behind the shady prison bars
Where life and death can go so far
You hear a voice that speaks your mind
Your spirit change within the time
For years and years, the rhythm plays
Power is deep, pain goes away
But then I change, from rocks to gold
My story is no longer told
My smile is diamonds from my chain
I drive my pride into my brain
I lost myself, where is the fight
For peace, love, and my fair rights
Where is the feel of poetry?
I rhyme for the sake of Barbies
Now I’m going through resilience
Now I’m punch lines before brilliance
I am defeated by these false words
Where bullets and blood is deferred.