Image by Dominik Koppen “I’m starting to feel as gray and lifeless as the concrete that surrounds me.” – Bridgett Devoue @musings.of.a.fox Image by Nastia Cloutier-Ignatiev “I know you’re speaking, but I can’t hear you over the conversation I’m having with your soul.” – Bridgett […]
By Lady Vanessa Cardona & Sara Al Souqi
It was an hour when I was alone.
I pumped up la musica en mi casa and allowed Colombia to rise from the floors of my home.
It was an hour where the call to prayer was made.
I sat on my prayer mat with the secrecy of dawn beneath my heavy lids.
I am often surrounded by white noise.
The clave inside me is soft.
I am told to behave.
Stop being so loud.
It was an hour where even white noise could not stay.
I pressed my forehead against the earth in prostration-
a form of submission mistaken for a threat.
The hour I heard about the shooting-
I heard every other gunshot I’ve heard before outside mi barrio.
Latin America is complex like it’s people.
We do not all make burritos-
some of us make empanadas, tamales, Chocolate con queso. Ahi.
The hour I heard about the shooting-
I held an apology for my face.
Like every bullet he shot carved our names on their chests.
Like the word Muslim was another word for guilt.
The word Muslim simply means I surrender.
And no one- will ever- surrender with a gun in their hands.
So do not say Islam.
They’ve tried to box us, but we are not trapped inside four walls being nothing less than your checkmark, we are the space outside the box.
Some of us are brown, black white indigenous some of us have status, some are straight and some are queer.
It was my puerto rican friends who taught me the language of hip hop.
It was Sahara my Muslim arabic sister who took me as a leaf under her grapevines.
Together stuffed our stories in waraa’ ‘anab.
There are too many western eyes chewing over our mourning-
fetishizing our latina anger while dehumanizing black rage.
Our stories are not disposable, our deaths are not a spectacle.
I am sorry, that I do not wrap my head with modest pride anymore.
I am caught up washing these blood stains that this world keeps telling me I am wearing- this hijab.
I have washed a million times over. and today, the only apology I speak is to everyone who mourns with us.
In the name of Allah,
in the name of God,
in the name of love.
We will not dance alone
we will not mourn alone
we will not allow your poison spread through our throats-
this voice will always be ours.
We will not let you finish our chants
We will not let your gun shots be the only sound
that brings us-
This piece was written in collaboration with Lady Vanessa. You can read more of my poetry on Instagram.
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We saw Illustrated for the first time at a Poetry Slam in Edmonton. There was something very unique about his style and content. His words elicited a realism and intensity that we had not seen before. We hoped to get the chance to speak to him after the event, but that was not possible. Eventually we were able to contact him through Facebook, and that is how we were able to get a better idea of this artist and his mission. We are honoured to introduce Illustrated to our community.
Growing up in Saskatoon, North Battleford, Loydminster and Edmonton, his journey is as much a part of his writing as anything else. When we asked him where he feels most at home, his response was, on a greyhound bus. So how did this nomad of sorts begin writing poetry? He told us it was through his cousin. He was only 16 at the time, but that awoke something within him that has driven him ever since. He performed for the first time in the downtown library in Saskatoon. Although competing for the first time, he did really well and was encouraged by many in the audience to pursue his new passion.
Illustrated is an artist that is as genuine as it gets. As opposed to many mainstream artists, he only focuses on issues that impact him directly. He speaks from experience and has a wide spectrum of topics that inspire him.
Go on his Facebook page and you will read this in his intro:
I am an aboriginal spoken word poet in hopes that my writing can help someone.
Whether it is through workshops in Saskatoon, to working with youth on the numerous reservations across Western Canada, he is bringing a very important message to these communities. He shares his personal story of how art helped him deal with suicidal thoughts. He uses his story to help others work through their problems using art therapy. He hopes to help disenfranchised youth learn how to better cope with the anger and frustration they feel through writing.
These are just a few of the messages he’s received from his followers:
Illustrated considers “The Ink in my Soul Died” as his favorite personal piece of writing. It relates the story of a man in love with a woman addicted to alcohol. It is his ability to delve into difficult topics in an insightful and poignant way, that distinguishes his writing from others.
He hopes to continue performing and doing workshops with young people for many years to come. We believe that his message will reach thousands of people in need and have a positive impact on their lives. We end this piece with a poem written by Illustrated which shows just how important it is for us to have conversations about topics that are difficult to discuss. Through his words he tells others that they are not alone. He understands their pain and fear. That alone can bring healing to a world in desperate need.
Depression held me under overwhelmed , still loved by another it’s strength over throws my stature
I hold my breath in the depths of my own disaster, moments away From being caged in what they will soon call my grave watching my faith just fall away I leapt from the edge of depression to catch death in my final direction still Gripping life in my palms its ripping a my soul knowing i will soon be gone consumed in the moments i have left I sore from my sorrows, on the wings of pestilence
I do everything to try and make amends with it
but time is not my friend and the light in my eyes have already grown dim now with every second its slowly closing in
holding fear in my expression no tears will ever cure my deception I’m here with karma lying pressed against my flesh
a kiss from crimson lips led to the midst of a bloody eclipse
it began from the tips of your lips to the edge of my wrists
at first you slit vertically and i was admitted to the emergency
but the urgency wound in each stitch adds to suffering of living with me
so you destructively cut the strings its to much the pain resists you from loving me
so your makeup runs free and its my blood that runs from you
you struggle to breathe as the tears and blood strangled me
only in the openings of each wrist
does love exist
only in the openings
of your lips does our love exist