In San Francisco, there’s a program that pairs aspiring young writers with professional mentors. It’s called WritersCorps and it’s sponsored by the San Francisco Arts Commission. One of the students is apprentice DeAsia Landrum.
DEASIA LANDRUM: I haven’t been writing for very long, but there’s just something in me that loves poetry, just loves the way it sounds, and the message people get through when they speak, using these crazy tones and using these like awesome metaphors, and that’s why I write today. I told the apprentice program that I wanted to write because I didn’t feel like there were a lot of writers like myself and so I wanted to write myself into something better, into history in a way, write myself into a legacy. Here's an excerpt from her untitled poem:
It’s safe to say that I will never see myself the way my Father sees me
He tells me I that I was made in His likeness and His image, but don’t find it cliché when I say
that Daddy’s little girl isn’t happy
See, my Father is something like a renaissance man
And I, His avant-garde masterpiece
Deliberate in His intent, He fashioned me out of ebony to reflect just how brilliant darkness
shines in the light
However, pop art has made me disillusioned with His artistry and I have tried to recreate myself
into something a little more acceptable
A little more fashionable
A little more mainstream
A little more white
See, my Father painted my skin the shade of night so people could see just how beautiful the
Sun’s embrace is when it blankets bone and becomes flesh
However, somewhere along the lines I think my Father forgot just how intimidating the night can
be for people who fear not being able to see past themselves
So, I’ve taken it upon myself to fix His mistake and recreate myself
Picking up where He left off, I started to lay a blank slate on top of my Father’s artwork to paint
the moon in-between the small cracks my melanin left open in the haste to fill the spaces
Anglicizing my ancestor’s chocolate skin with vanilla frosting
Click the audio player above to hear more from DeAsia Landrum.
DeAsia Landrum and other WritersCorps apprentices will read their work along with author Tamim Ansary at a free and intergenerational event this Thursday, March 7 at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in downtown San Francisco.