Porsha Olayiwola Doesn't Shimmer, She Shines
I love Button Poetry. In fact, they are one of my favorite poetry presses, and I buy from them as much as possible and usually read whatever the library gets in as soon as they get it in. I’ve always found their authors to be emotionally charged, powerful, their words raw, honest, often hauntingly and violently beautifully. And that’s what I want when I read poetry. I want it to hurt me, to change me, to make me uncomfortable as it helps me grow and develop and learn.
Because poetry is transformation. It’s a protest, a riot. Poems are meant to be screamed and whispered and sometimes they have teeth and sometimes they are velvet, that soft water rain that drips down our cheeks as we stand out in the rain laughing, crying, begging, praying.
Because poetry is an act of survival, it’s a proclamation that says “I’m here and I’m not leaving.” It is a mirror, a shot gun, a crib, an open casket left out for the world to see.
And that beauty, that strength, that fierce powerful authenticity is what Porsha Olayiwola brought to the page in her 2019 collection I Shimmer Sometimes, Too, and moments after finishing it, I found myself quietly sitting in my office, my heart heavy, my heart full, my heart crying because reading this collection—which I did over a couple of days—was like being invited into someone’s diary, being witness to a walking memoir.
Olayiwola’s energy here is infectious, inspiring, and her meditations on the body, on being female, on being queer, on being black, are these exquisite portrayals that not only educate readers on what it’s like to be stereotyped, or shamed, or violated, or hated for who/what we are, but they give insight into the daily magic and celebration of what it means to live out and proud and embrace the bodies we live in.
Truly, her poems don't glitter here, they shine.
They illuminate a life and story that looks to history and applies it to modern-day, and in a time when we’re looking to change, fighting for equality and liberation and acceptance, this collection did more than shimmer for me; it set a fire beneath and within me and reminded me to do more, to keep fighting, to listen, and to continue to educate myself and others because that fire, that glimmer, that spark isn’t something we want to see go out.
Now go buy this beautiful, beautiful book.
You won't regret it.
I give his book 5 out of 5 stars.