Our fourth and final poet in this series is an absolute powerhouse, filled with beautiful and courageous authenticity. Today, we conclude our 4 Black Poets to Know series with Porsha Olayiwola!
From the moment I cracked open my fresh copy of i shimmer sometimes, too, I could hear the bass of Porsha Olayiwola’s voice echo through the pages. Titles of poems like “SOUTHSIDE APOCALYPSE” and “BLACK BODY WALKS TO THE CORNER STORE IN 13,839 PIECES” line the table of contents, serving as warning signs for the undeniable truths and unapologetic vulnerability Olayiwola has waiting ahead.
Porsha Olayiwola defines herself in the best way possible in the headline of her site, “Black: Writer. Performer. Futurist.”
Hailing from Chicago, Illinois, the Individual World Poetry Slam Champion now resides in Boston, Massachusetts. Porsha Olayiwola is currently the artistic director for MassLEAP (a youth literary organization), an MFA candidate at Emerson College and reigns as Boston’s current poet laureate. Olayiwola’s degree in African American Studies and Gender and Women Studies from the University of Illinois reflects the same subject matter her poetry and professional work revolve around. From co-founding poetry slam venues throughout Boston to initiating virtual poetry workshops during the pandemic, community is at the core of every single thing Olayiwola touches. Her enchanting poetry is no exception.
As humans, it becomes far too easy to find ways to separate ourselves from one another, creating an “us and them” society rather than a unified one. Porsha Olayiwola’s world, the world of a Black, queer, womanist, artist, is arguably the most overlooked and underrepresented group of humans in America. Yet, Olayiwola has dedicated her work to changing that narrative by serving as a voice for change.
Her willingness to break down the ins and outs of her world allows those who may think they have nothing in common with the poet to either, find similarities in overlapping challenges or gain a new perspective on a unique worldview. By playing with form, punctuation and everyday language, Olayiwola grabs her audience’s attention right from the start. It will be the surrealist, thought-provoking and insightful prose that will keep you waiting to see what magic Porsha Olayiwola will create next.
My favorite way to experience Porsha Olayiwola’s point of view is through her first poetry collection, i shimmer sometimes, too (CW: language). This book holds 72 poems easily invites you into our heroic writer’s passion, pain, and plan for a brighter future Olayiwola’s poems effortlessly initiate. After that, I highly recommend listening to any of Porsha Olayiwola’s slam poetry! In a matter of seconds, you’ll easily discover why Olayiwola holds multiple slam poetry championship titles.
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Featured image by Tatiana Johnson
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