30 Diverse Poetry Books You Should Read

poetry

Following my previous post about reading diversely, as well as the recent #diversebookbloggers hashtag that was started by Naz at Read Diverse Books, I decided to compile a diverse poetry list. I don’t do many  poetry book reviews but I do love poetry. Here is a list of 30 diverse poetry collections that I love. In lieu of book reviews, which I rarely do for poetry collections, I’ve attached excerpts to each title. Enjoy!


1. Selected Poems- Po Chu’ I (China)

I wish we could be trees deep in the mountains,
touching, twining limb around limb.


2. Unattainable Earth- Czeslaw Milosz (Poland)

Do not die out, fire.
Enter my dreams, love.
Be young forever,
seasons of the earth. –Winter


3. The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks (USA)

Life must be aromatic.
There must be scent,
somehow there must be some.


4. In the Presence of Absence- Mahmoud Darwish (Palestine)

My memory is like a pomegranate.
Shall I open it over you and let it scatter,
seed by seed:
red pearls befitting a farewell
that asks nothing of me except forgetfulness?


5. Horses Make a Landscape More Beautiful- Alice Walker (America)

We who have stood over
so many graves
know that no matter what they do
all of us must live
or none. –Each One, Pull One


6. The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion- Kei Miller (Jamaica)

We speak to navigate ourselves
away from dark corners and we become,
each one of us, cartographers.


7. She Says- Venus Khoury-Ghata (Lebanon/France)

I stuff the French language with loukoum, I teach it to do the belly dance.


8. Ossuaries- Dionne Brand (Canada/Trinidad)

I lived and loved,
some might say,
in momentous times,
looking back,
my dreams were full of prisons.- Ossuary I


9. Mercurochrome- Wanda Coleman (USA)

i wanted empathy & tea leaves,
answers & directions
toward a healing path. –Soft Boy


10. The Ink Dark Moon- Ono No Komachi (Japan)

No different, really—
a summer moth’s visible burning
and this body,
transformed by love.


11. Forbidden Words- Eugenio de Andrade (Portugal)

Books. Warmth,
their tender skin, serene. Loving
company. Willing always
to share the sun
of their waters. So docile,
silent, loyal.
So luminous in their
white and vegetal closed
melancholy. Loved
like no other companions
of the spirit. So musical
in the fluvial overflowing
ardour of the day.- On a Copy of the Georgics


12. Fugitive Suns- Andree Chedid (Algeria)

With spadefuls of petty life
We bury what outmeasures us
Eluding the fabulous intimacy
For the instant’s wage.


13. Redemption Rain- Jennifer Rahim (Canada/ Trinidad)

Honestly, I have no regrets.
Our talk is so full of recognition,
the light we generate makes night, day.


14. Fuel- Naomi Shihab Nye (USA/Palestine)

A boy told me
if he roller-skated fast enough
his loneliness couldn’t catch up to him,
the best reason I ever heard
for trying to be a champion.
What I wonder tonight
pedaling hard down King William Street
is if it translates to bicycles.
A victory! To leave your loneliness
panting behind you on some street corner
while you float free into a cloud of sudden azaleas,
pink petals that have never felt loneliness,
no matter how slowly they fell.- The Rider

 


15. Spring Essence- Ho Xuan Huong (Vietnam)

How many thousands of years have you been there?
Why sometimes slender, why sometimes full?
Why do you circle the purple loneliness of night
and seldom blush before the sun?
Weary, past midnight, who are you searching for?
Are you in love with these rivers and hills?- Questions for the Moon


16. Bridge to the Soul- Rumi (Iran)

Rise. Do not keep stirring
the heavy sediment. Let
the murkiness settle.- A Northern Wind


17. Selected Prose and Poems- Gabriela Mistral (Chile)

At times your heart will be ready for harvest, like the fruits from which honey or oil is pressed.-The Dream


18. Language is not the Only Thing That Breaks- Proma Tagore (Canada/India)

for you to feel the warmth of your grandmother’s touch.
for sorrows
that this land keeps to unfold,
like the moon, into dreams,
to know that even in loss there is living transformation.
for us to live, reconnected, and your stories, this poem to have many beginnings.


19. She- Saul Williams (USA)

For all the ghosts and corpses that shall never know the breath of our children
so long
for the sacrifice and endurance of our mothers and the sustained breath of our fathers
we live


20. Behind My Eyes- Li-Young Lee (China/ USA)

I’m told I’m a fourfold mystery
like the planet, but I think more.
I mean, there are tears inside me I’ll never weep.


21. Sea Grapes- Derek Walcott (St. Lucia)

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at each other’s welcome,

and say sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self,
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love-letters from the bookshelf

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.—  Love After Love


22. Solar Throat Slashed- Aime Cesaire (Martinique)

I am a memory that does not reach the threshold
and wanders in the limbo where the glint of absinthe
when the heart of night breathes through its blowholes
moves the fallen star in which we contemplate ourselves.- The Griffin


23. The August Sleepwalker- Bei Dao (China)

A Perpetual stranger
am I to the world
I don’t understand its language
my silence it can’t comprehend
all we have to exchange
is a touch of contempt
as if we meet in a mirror

a perpetual stranger
am I to myself
I fear the dark
but block with my body
the only lamp
my shadow is my beloved
heart the enemy.- A Perpetual Stranger


24. A Little Larger than the Entire Universe- Fernando Pessoa (Portugal)

Whether we write or speak or are but seen
We are ever unapparent. What we are
Cannot be transfused into word or mien.
Our soul from us is infinitely far.
However much we give our thoughts the will
To make our soul with arts of self-show stored,
Our hearts are incommunicable still.
In what we show ourselves we are ignored.
The abyss from soul to soul cannot be bridged
By any skill or thought or trick for seeing.
Unto our very selves we are abridged
When we would utter to our thought our being.
We are our dreams of ourselves, souls by gleams,
And each to each other dreams of others’ dreams.


25. The Collected Poetry of Leopold Sedar Senghor (Senegal)

I am thirsty, so thirsty for space and new waters,
And to drink from the urn of a new face in the sun
Without hotel rooms or the crushing
Solitude of big cities driving me away.—  It is Time for Me to Go

26. The Selected Poems of Federico Garcia Lorca (Spain)

I sat down
in a space of time.
It was a backwater
of silence,
a white silence,
a formidable ring
wherein the stars
collided with the twelve floating
black numerals.— Pause of the Clock

 27. The Essential Neruda- Pablo Neruda (Chile)

And it was at that age … Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don’t know, I don’t know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don’t know how or when,
no they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.


28. Collected Poems of Chinua Achebe (Nigeria)

Absentminded
our thoughtful days
sat at dire controls
and played indolently.- 1966


29. Shake Loose my Skin- Sonia Sanchez (USA)

And I cried. For myself. For this woman talkin’ about love. For all the women who have ever stretched their bodies out anticipating civilizations and finding ruins.


30. The Great Black North: Contemporary African Canadian Poetry (Eds. Valerie Mason-John & Kevan Anthony Cameron)

When a hunger for our own vernacular
mingled with the passion of romanticism
a new language was born, on the page
on the stages of smoky coffee houses
deep in the heart of Harlem

In this Renaissance, we began to reclaim ourselves
Began to own our newly found freedom
to simply read and write, en masse
in public, to make love and meaning
from our suffering, to live our loud
word by word, on our own terms.- Andrea Thompson, A Brief History of Soul Speak

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My 2015 in Books

2015 was a good reading year for me, and it was a year that came with a lot of changes. Emotionally it was a tough year and I think that the situations I experienced  told me what to read. I don’t know if I’ve ever been more thankful to be a reader as I was this year. So much of my reading turned out to be comforting and serendipitous, and I ended up reading books I didn’t even know I needed to read. And because of circumstances, I wasn’t able to write as many reviews as I normally do, but I was able to benefit from reading other people’s words.

Experiencing two deaths in my family, I was greatly encouraged and comforted by Elizabeth Alexander’s The Light of the World , and strangely calmed and made more introspective by Barthes’ Mourning Diary, and as I discovered later, he died not long after he had finished writing it so I don’t think he ever got over his mother’s death, which makes the book’s content even more sorrowful.

My graduate research paper, which focused on black women, spurred a lot of my reading. In particular, Toni Cade Bambara’s ‘Black Women’ anthology, ‘ Black Feminist Thought ‘ by Patricia Hill Collins as well as  ‘Black Women, Writing and Identity’, by Carole Boyce Davies not only introduced me to many new black women writers, but also drove home the point that there is a lot of research and writing on black women that still needs to be done. Reading black women’s memoirs, such as Tracy K. Smith’s ‘Ordinary Light’, Jacqueline Woodson‘s ‘Brown Girl Dreaming’, and Margo Jefferson’s ‘Negroland’, as well as books written by black women about other black women, for example, Kuwana Haulsey’s book, ‘Angel in Harlem’, and Maryse Conde’s ‘I, Tituba’ gave me the motivation I needed to do more research and write more.

This year I became more aware of Chicana feminism which I found I was able to relate to a lot given my own experiences of being member of a subculture. Even after my graduation, I still feel compelled to read similar books and I think they have made me stronger and more aware.  Women from other groups inspired me as well. I read  Maxine Hong Kingston  and Sandra Cisneros  for the first time and I was truly impressed.  I was able to finish reading all of Toni Morrison’s books and Anais Nin ‘s journals, and they were as inspiring as ever.

I think it’s clear that there’s been a vague theme in my reading and indeed I made a conscious effort to read more women this year. According to my math, I read 156 books this year and 104 of them were by women. I’ve enjoyed discovering new women writers, for example Willa Cather, Kim Thuy, Hong Ying, Anne Sexton, Venus Khoury-Ghata, Hedwig Dohm, Wang Anyi, Gloria Naylor, Gayl Jones, Ernessa T. Carter, Geling Yan, Maria Dermout, Buket, Uzuner, Helene Cixous, and Joan Didion.

I did read some great books by male writers though, particularly in the poetry section. I also reread Man Booker Prize Marlon James’ The Book of Night Women  in preparation to seeing him in a panel discussion. There are so many books I have to read but rereading brings its own rewards.

Later on in the year I became more interested in doing art research and I read some introductory texts to several famous artists. But the most inspirational book to me on art so far has been one I’m still reading, a collection of essays by Jeanette Winterson (‘Art Objects’).

Although I have continued to diversify my reading, and have also made more of an effort to read female writers, my reading continues to be American-dominant. Next year I plan on re-reading Toni Morrison’s books in chronological order. I also hope to read more Middle Eastern, North African, and Latin American literature.

Below are three lists of books that were highly favoured by me in the non-fiction, fiction, and poetry categories.

I appreciate all of you who read my blog and interact with me. Wishing you all a great 2016:)

Non-Fiction Books

  1.  Between the World and Me– Ta-Nehisi Coates
  2. A House of my Own- Sandra Cisneros
  3. Art on my Mind: Visual Politics– bell hooks
  4. A Woman Speaks- Anais Nin
  5. The Black Woman: An Anthology- Toni Cade Bambara
  6. The Gloria Anzaldua Reader
  7. A Bad Woman’s Story– Kishwar Naheed
  8. The Journals of Jules Renard
  9. Paris is Burning- Lucas Hilderbrand
  10. The Light of the World- Elizabeth Alexander

Fiction

  1. The Natural Order of Things– Antonio Lobo Antunes
  2. Angel of Harlem- Kuwana Haulsey
  3. I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem– Maryse Conde
  4. Dreams of my Russian Summer- Andrei Makine
  5. The Woman Who Read Too Much– Bahiyyih Nakhjavani
  6. Lucy– Jamaica Kincaid
  7. The Joys of Motherhood– Buchi Emecheta
  8. Mr Loverman– Bernardine Evaristo
  9. You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down– Alice Walker
  10. China Men– Maxine Hong Kingston

 

Poetry

  1. The Ink Dark Moon- Ono No Komachi
  2. Selected Poetry of Anne Sexton
  3. She Says- Venus Khoury-Ghata
  4. Beneath my Eyes- Li-Young Lee
  5. How to be Drawn- Terrance Hayes
  6. Mercurochrome- Wanda Coleman
  7. Prelude to Bruise- Saeed Jones
  8. The Breakbeat Poets- Kevin Coval
  9. In Presence of Absence- Mahmoud Darwish
  10. Forbidden Words- Eugenio de Andrade

 

To Be the Poet- Maxine Hong Kingston

“I will be selfish. There’s a wonderful moment I have on the verge of sleep—I have nothing to do but feel my feelings, look at the pictures behind my eyes, and go to sleep. Consider no one but myself. Rest from the social responsibility of prose. Don’t care about people’s antics anymore. I will be socially irresponsible. I will be a poet.”

I’m on a Hong Kingston binge at the moment after having read (and adored) China Men. I always like reading writers who work in different genres. China Men is a book of prose and this one focuses on poetry. It was lovely and a sensitive look, a guide if you will, at how to find poetry in one’s own life. Clearly illustrated by examples from her own life as she approached her 60th birthday helps us see how she found poetry in her life. Examples from travel, culture, and autobiography.

Although I’m not planning on writing any poetry I enjoyed Hong Kingston’s thought process on how she found poetry. She included some of her own poetry too and I think it was a reminder of trying, even if your attempts fail; it’s all about using one’s creativity.

“There is no strict divide between the world and me. Shutting the eyes does not shut out the environment, and my surroundings do not replace my emotions. What I feel influences what I see, and, of course, what I see affects my feelings.”

Her views of aging reminded me of Nin. In a sense, hopeful, accepting, contemplating:

“Old people fade. The black is gone from my hair, and leaving my eyes. My angles lose definition. I will stay put. The tide will come in and in and in.”

She often writes in a questioning manner as part of her process:

“What about dreams? What about them? They blur and leap; they hide, and they reveal. They feel like poems. Except without words. There’s flight, there’s music, but few words. My people in dreams rarely converse. Can I fly to poetry via dream? Find the words for the dream and have my poem? A dream will segue so naturally into morning sometimes, I move through the day sorting what’s dream, what’s real. Awake, the task would be to put visuals, feelings, ideas, beings, into words.”

Lots of useful lessons by a very sensitive writer.

I’m Tired- My Thoughts

Douglas Coupland art at the Vancouver Art Gallery
Douglas Coupland art at the Vancouver Art Gallery

 

“all the women in me. are tired.” – Nayyirah Waheed

When I read the above micropoem by Nayyirah Waheed, it resonated with me greatly. I couldn’t help but write down the things I was fed up with. What resulted was a litany of the things I wish would just go away.

 

UNTITLED

I’m tired of the fetishization of the black body,
Of feeling unsafe as a woman, a black woman.

I’m tired of being told, both directly and indirectly, that my feelings don’t matter,
That I’m too sensitive.

I’m tired of reading in the news that ANOTHER innocent black person has been killed by the police,
Has been painted as a thug, a dangerous criminal due to their pigmentation,
Not given the benefit of the doubt despite overwhelming evidence in their favour,
I’m tired that four decades after Dr. King and Malcolm X gave their lives this is still going on,

I’m tired of black face, and of people trying to justify using black face,
The monkey jokes are really getting old now, can’t racists be a bit more original?
I question how others see me. Can I trust anyone? Do I have to deal with another co-worker begging me to wear my afro out for Halloween? Am I a costume?

I’m tired of having to prove my humanity, having to prove I do have feelings,
Tired of feeling helpless about all the missing Nigerian girls, the African Ebola victims who hardly get a mention in the media these days.
Race is the elephant in the room, we don’t want to admit it.
Canada isn’t ready to discuss race,
Instead we have this kumbaya attitude to everything,
Promoting our multiculturalism policy,
Comparing ourselves positively to the States, at least we’re not them, we didn’t have slavery.
Their comments make me invisible, my issues and concerns don’t matter.
Surely I have nothing to complain about in our mosaic society?

And Lord knows I’m tired of the same nasty comments every Black History Month from the people who don’t understand why there is a need for it,
No, we’re not trying to make others feel guilty, we are trying to reclaim our history and our pride.
When ancient African civilizations were accredited to mythical lost European civilizations, rather than to their rightful African owners,
When history has been whitewashed to exclude all people of colour,
Surely a month isn’t too much to celebrate our history?
A month isn’t even long enough to catalogue the great contributions people of colour have made, but it’s a start.

Sorry to tell you but you can’t use the n-word just because your partner is black,
I don’t care if you mean it in an inoffensive way, don’t use it in my presence.
And slavery is never funny, it just isn’t,
The watermelon and fried chicken jokes are getting old; who doesn’t like fried chicken or watermelon anyway?

I’m scared that one day I’ll go missing and the police won’t care,
I’m disturbed by the fact a black life is valued so low.

If people only knew what we went through, perhaps they wouldn’t be too quick to shut us down,
If they were us they’d be tired too.
They would see the need to fight for change, to push for dialogue, something!
They would find it difficult to not become jaded,
They would feel disappointed and frustrated when those in positions of privilege ignore us,
They would experience the great effort we put into exhorting ourselves, our children
In world that tells us we are ugly, worthless and are criminals
A world in which a few black people standing together constitutes a mob,
A world in which the worst linguistic contortions are made to depict blacks in the most negative light.
I’m tired of being a prop, a photo op, a representative for the entire black race,
I’m aware that I am being used and it’s not a nice feeling,
What I’d ideally like to do is hide away in my books and ignore what’s going on ,but I have to fight this.

All I know is I’m not going to stop talking about racism, sexism and other -isms until they are over and done with.
I don’t want my younger female cousins to have to deal with as much negativity as I’ve had to,
I don’t want them to suppress their feelings and thoughts to make others comfortable. Haven’t we been made to feel uncomfortable enough?
Shrinking ourselves so as not to alarm people,
Being afraid to occupy space, just in case…

I’ve now resolved to not worry about the names people may call me.
If they wish to call me strident, so be it.
Neurotic, I’m fine with that too.
There is a time in someone’s life and in history when enough is enough.
Being authentic to oneself is more important than popularity.
Fighting the status quo is more important than pretending everything is okay

Aluta continua

The Book of Disquiet- Fernando Pessoa

 

 

“I follow the course of my dreams, making them images into steps toward other images; folding casual metaphors like fans into grand pictures of interior vision; I untie life from myself, and I toss it aside as if it were a too-tight suit.”

You know a writer is great when he makes you want to learn a new language to understand his work in the original. The Book of Disquiet is easily the best book I’ve read this year, and possibly the one I’ve copied the most quotes from.  I’d only ever read Pessoa’s poetry and I had no idea what to expect from his prose. It turns out he does poetry and prose equally well.

I would love to have a conversation with Pessoa, although I would probably bug him as he desires solitude. But having a deep, philosophical conversation with him would be almost heavenly. I like how he thinks. I like how he delves into the complexity of humans: “Each of us is various, many people, a prolixity of selves.” So is that the reasons for his alter-egos?

I feel that this is the sort of book that people will either think is brilliant or will think Pessoa is too sentimental. It’s autobiographical snippets of his writing and I have to say that I rarely come across a writer who thinks so deeply and obsessively about certain things. Pessoa’s favourite topics seem to be dreams, solitude, writing, the futility of life (was he an existentialist? He reminds me a bit of Meursault). I may share his melancholy but I don’t share his negative outlook, his depression and his misanthropic nature! Even so, this was a brilliant book and one I’m so glad I finally read.

“When I write, I visit myself solemnly. I have special rooms, remembered by someone else in the interstices of my self-representation, where I take pleasure in analyzing what I do not feel, and I examine myself as if I were a painting in the shadows.”

The feelings I got from reading this one! I did feel lonely, I felt the grief that he felt, I had to shake myself and remember that’s not how I felt at all! His writing really consumed me at several points. Sometimes I felt that we were the same person, the way he explained some abstract idea.

Reading about his alter egos was pretty cool as I’d encountered them in his poetry. I guess a man who said he didn’t have any friends would do well with creating some.If this book is as autobiographical as I think it is, I can’t even imagine how he lived with himself; it must have been extremely intense.

Must buy a copy, must re-read!

Black: My 14-Year-Old Cousin’s Brilliant Spoken Word for Black History Month

Chikumbutso
Chikumbutso

My little cousin, Chiku, was  born here in Vancouver on this day 14 years ago. I’ve watched her grow up and I’m so proud of her in many ways. While I was at her house yesterday evening she shared a spoken word she had written and performed for Black History Month. Since then she has been chosen to represent her school in a spoken word competition, and she has been asked to perform her poem several times in the past few weeks.  I was honestly speechless when I read it. She was gracious enough to allow me to post it here (as long as I credit her!).  I applaud her for being ready to share her thoughts and experiences with her classmates.

Chiku’s Spoken Word- Black

You don’t decide how I act. I was white-washed so I had myself blacked.  I’m Shaniqua, you said I was ghetto, and it was loud like a cello and it rang with an echo. My mother and my father they gave me this colour. That’s what makes me black. When you said I was white I was taken aback. If I were to talk intelligently and properly like this, that wouldn’t make me less of what I am. The black girl with big hair, that hit me with a bam. You’ve missed out on my inside, the part I have to hide.

            My facial features don’t have to be a certain way, my personality doesn’t have to be a certain way. I’m not a typical black person, what does that mean? I have a kind of music and it’s not very clean. Did you know I have to be into black stuff? Did you know light and dark together are rough? Am I not black enough? Sometimes I’m too black and it gets rough. Yes, I read. Yes, I stay out of trouble. Yes, I like the same things you do, so am I not black? We don’t get the privilege, the privilege we want so bad. If I’m a thug, you’re just crazy. If I die, I’m another statistic, but if you, you’re an icon and celebrity. If I’m an addict, nobody will care for me and I’ll live up to my stereotypes, but if you’re an addict, you have hope and can become an amazing inspiration.

            I can see you, I can feel you, those eyes through my soul. Learning about my history, the back of my neck a hole. I give no reaction, just this feeling of awkward. Look away, look away, you might just be a stalker.

            My history, my Africa, taught to me by myself. We learn about Europe while we sit on a shelf. My continent unknown, they sit on a throne. Full of history, cultures, languages, and different people but we’ve been blended into one.

            I’ve jumped a thousand cliffs just to get you to listen but look at this division. They say get over the slavery, forget their bravery? That word, the word written all over my skin. N.I.G., when will we win? You say it with a grin, you say it with a sin. The rappers they say it, they make it okay. But in the end, I’m the prey. I’ll get over the slavery when you get over the war. Go away, go away, your words are a chore.

            I have no choice but to forgive. Because I’m a minority, I don’t get to live. Pat, pat, pat, the hands on my head. I have to be easy going, I won’t snap like lead. Let me pet your hair, as though I’m your dog. Dead cells, different texture, it’s not a pleasure.

            Where are you from? Born and raised British Columbian and not in a slum. Where are you really from? Born and raised British Columbian and not in a slum. Your parents? From Malawi where it was nice and pleasant. So you’re African-American? No. I’m just a citizen of Canada. My ancestors never came to North America. They were never taken for slaves. I’m from the South, not the West, not the West from over the waves. An African-American will never know their roots from Africa because their ancestors were forced to America. Do you speak African? There are 2000 languages and more in Africa. We aren’t one big blur for you to decipher.

            I’m black. I’m not warm earth, an indirect way of calling me dirt behind my back. I’m not a cappuccino, I’m not a one colour fits all. I’m not caramel, I don’t have a natural tan that stays through and after the fall. Makeup makes me into dirt and food and if you ask me, that’s a little bit rude. This skin isn’t tanned, what makes you think that your skin is the right colour to be in this land.

            It’s annoying, it’s hard, apparently I look charred. I love myself anyway. My big “horrible” hair, I love it anyway. Being compared and being stared at, I love my skin anyway. Being mistaken and being held unknown, I love my ethnicity anyway. Being treated differently because of my skin, I love you anyway. Having to be a certain way, I still hate society for that. The kid in kindergarten wanted my ‘skin colour’ crayon, I gave him a brown crayon, he was a brat. Happy Black History Month.

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Naysayers

"What I do isn't up to you"- street poetry in Yaletown
“What I do isn’t up to you”- street poetry in Yaletown

“Our dreams are not futile. They do not spring from our egos. They have their roots in our souls.”-Julia Cameron, Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance

When I was a child we used to sing this song: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names (words) will never hurt me.” Even as a child, I wasn’t fully convinced that this was true. Now, as an adult, I know it’s not true. Words DO hurt, words DO have power.

It’s an all too-common story. You have an idea and think it’s a great one. You share it with the wrong people and they disapprove and criticize you making you feel dejected.

I’ve come to be more private about sharing my own dreams. The vulnerability of  sharing one’s dream is something I think naysayers don’t often consider. I believe when we have a dream it is only natural to want to share it. It’s a bit hard at times to guess how people will take it. I may not understand someone else’s ideas, after all, they’re not me. But still, why not encourage them? I love hearing people’s visions for the future. In a world where it looks like there are less and less dreamers, it’s refreshing to encounter enthusiastic and ambitious people.

I know that for me my dreams  have been given to me by God, and they are part of my purpose here on Earth. So in a sense there is already Someone in my team. Even so, it feels comforting to know that people in my life believe in me

Dreams are often not easy  to follow through with, so the last thing we need is to surround ourselves with negative people who will make it even more stressful for us.

We can see the impact of human ingenuity all around us. Looking at all that we’ve accomplished, especially in the last century, should be more than enough inspiration for us all. I look to the literary world and I find so many people who went against the odds.  Chinua Achebe, one of my all-time favourites, was told by the European publishers (the only ones available to him at the time) that his type of literature wasn’t marketable. They laughed in his face. Who would ever be interested in reading African literature anyway? Well, I think we have the answer to that; over 15 million copies of Things Fall Apart have been sold globally.

I hate sounding like a self-help manual but I have encountered so many people in the past few weeks who felt down because someone shot down their dream. All they needed was one person to tell them that they believed in them. I get the feeling that some naysayers are either bored, unimaginative or, dare I say it, jealous? In the past week I met someone who wanted to be a MMA fighter. I don’t like that sport but good for him! Why can’t he do it?It’s obviously something that makes him happy. Even if he doesn’t achieve that dream it may just be the first step that will lead him on the path to an even larger dream.

I feel like I’m exhorting myself. It took me a long time to get over my naysayers. At first I felt like they knew something that I didn’t, now I realize that it was they that were missing something; they weren’t me therefore didn’t know my heart and my determination (although I would say that  doesn’t mean that they were at liberty to shoot me down). Us humans would probably get a lot more done if we had positive cheerleaders surrounding us instead of naysayers. At the same time, welcoming critique isn’t a bad thing but it’s always easy to see who is trying to help and who just wants to be negative.

Langston Hughes- A Dream Deferred

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?