As the Atlanta Word Works team goes to Washington D.C. to compete in Brave New Voices July 12-16, we are proud to share their work.
Nia Lundkvist, 18, attends Spelman College.
When did you first start writing poetry? The first poem I can remember writing was at age 9, but I first started consistently writing poetry at age 14.
What inspired you to start writing poetry? I started writing honestly because I saw a lot spoken word performances, and I thought they were so amazing and so beautiful and I wanted to learn. I wanted to be just like them.
What is your writing process? My writing process is very lax, not very structured. I write very much in the moment. If I feel like I need to write, I just sit down and write. It could come out being two lines; it come out being a full poem. I never know, I just start writing … usually what I want to say comes out better when I speak than when I’m writing.
Do you have a poet you admire? Audre Lorde. I love her so much because she’s very clear with what she’s saying. Her point is very clear, but her phrasing and her metaphors are so spot on and hard core. She’s so unapologetic with her words and I love it. I would love to be just like her.
For those who mispunctuate
With a question mark
We weren’t asking for your permission
I mean really, how privileged do you have to be to dismiss the significance of an entire race
Okay this message was supposed to be easy I mean it’s only 3 words
A simple sentence with a subject and verb
But it seems the only part you heard was some absurd punctuation your imagination conjured up
To keep your conscience from contamination
But you can take your crooked punctuations and curve them into a cup around your ear
And for once take the time to hear what it means to not matter
Like grouped by flesh in broken down projects and left for dead
Like when the only places to eat in a five mile radius
Are the fifteen fast food restaurants strategically placed down your block
Like expected to grocery shop at gas stations and liquor stores
We’re still treated like property value
Black bodies must behave like our neighborhood buildings
Gentrified if found to be worth saving
Or broken down until disintegration
Black bodies have always mattered for capital from the moment we first grazed this colonized terrain
Black bodies are the building blocks of this nation we stand on their graves
Black bodies, old and new slaves,
Were solely meant for economic gain
Black bodies were to be counted on, counted out, and when they stopped working, just counted
Black bodies are pulled apart bit by bit like full lips, brown skin, wide hips, real thick and sold for profit
Black bodies are the makers of music that enthuses white consumers
Black bodies are forced fed dreams to be fit
Recruited to take hits in the name of athletics
To fund a college that wouldn’t admit him otherwise
Please realize that black bodies have always mattered
But to acknowledge the value of black lives
Would abolish a system that’s promised privilege to the paler pigment that would pillage villages as effortless as I spit
Since my mere existence has immeasurable weight for me
I pray that your privilege takes these three words off my back
When black boy dies by other black boys’ gun
I’ve never seen you run into the rays of the street lights screaming for his rights
You’re too numb to show the same love to him you demand from us white men
You don’t even value your own kind
So why should I
Care about another black body?
I guess you must have forgotten about the God you gave me
Tried to Erase me
Through centuries of destruction and slavery
The fact that my skin makes yours crawl
Has nothing to do with our divine being
You can’t change my religion and tell me the only savior you left doesn’t even love me
How dare you be so selfish
Sitting on your sofa
Reading a newspaper story about a black thug killing a white victim
Upset because it didn’t make the late night news
Taking misguided rage to your Twitter page
Claiming to be well-versed in reverse racism
Tell me, how can you bite the hand that never even reached out to feed you in the first place?
I hope you’ve heard what I’ve had to say
And if you don’t take anything else away
Black Lives Matter
Video shot and edited by Dasia Evertsz, 17, is a rising senior at Our Lady of Mercy High School who has an interest in poetry.