From the author’s introduction: ‘The words in this book were originally conceived as elements of a ‘choreopoem’, a term first coined by the great Ntozake Shange to describe her work For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf – a poetry, music and dance piece. My piece was birthed in 2018 and shared at Poplar Union on 25th June 2019. The piece, then titled Circles, was enthusiastically received, with a good percentage of audience members saying afterwards they’d have liked to be able to read the text as a standalone book. So, I teamed up with Team Angelica to make this happen.
Confronted by my words, I felt like a surgeon in an operating theatre, dissecting the anaesthetised text, moving things to their correct places and adding in new poems that complemented the developing mood of the collection. This collection – now titled Saturn Returns – takes off a mask to expose and explore certain vulnerabilities that are normally concealed. The start of this new decade has seen a lot of societal issues coming to the light with a clear, at times harsh, 20:20 vision, and this year a lot of us have had a significant amount of time to ask questions of ourselves, peek behind our own masks and look into the mirror. Saturn Returns reminds us it’s okay to observe the world, and within. It won’t all be fairy-tale but it’s okay to take a look, shake things off that you now see are burdens, and return to your life with a different understanding, recognising unconstructive patterns and breaking negative cycles.
Saturn Returns explores the dynamic between black men and black women, asking whether we are doing the same things over and over again, or are managing to create something new. Psychologists talk about how trauma can be genetically passed on from generation to generation, and how it cannot be rectified until it’s confronted. Sadly, the dark past of slavery continues to overshadow decision making for both black and white people today. I believe the way to the light is through becoming aware of the darkness; through conversations that may be painful to have but that need to be had; and coming to a resolution, so that both now and for future generations the unconscious response to trauma is lessened.
I couldn’t write this introduction without talking about the energies that inform this poetry collection. My Nigerian- Igbo heritage rings in every line. My Catholic and Pentecostal upbringing bring their particular melodies to my poetical world. My obsession with TV is apparent in jotted lines and fragmentary images and references that evoke a particular personal nostalgia some others may share. According to Sobonfu Somé, in her book The Spirit of Intimacy (William Morrow & Co, 2000), queer people are gatekeepers connecting this physical world to the spiritual world and I take pride in that perspective, that insight. And above all my stammer, though a snatcher of my words, has gifted me the ability to think of all the synonyms in the world so I don’t block. It gave me the creative ability to piece poetry-worlds together. It gave me this book.
To me it’s best read aloud, so try that: feel the connection to your ancestors and breathe new life into today.’