The Personhood Project Episode 12: Ebony Stewart
For the final episode of season 1, poet and playwright, Ebony Stewart joins our host, Aaron Tyler Hand, to discuss her two 2022 poetry collection releases, Bloodfresh and Home.Girl.Hood. Stewart also offers insight into her exploration of her mother's family through her two one woman plays Hunger and Ocean. The two also examine the differences in writing long forms like plays and short forms like poetry. Stewart shares her thoughts on the expansive power of long forms and the control that one gains when writing in the limits of a short form. As a recent recipient of her Masters in Clinical Social Work, Stewart also discusses the necessity and importance of social workers in the USA, and the ways her social work and poetry overlap. She also speaks on the ways in which poetry can help us face our traumas and overcome them.
I'm really reaching for myself, I'm really reaching for my resilience, my own understanding, my own definitions and defining who I am. Poetry allows that type of freedom.
Today must be…
I slept bad, but I had a dream day
I’m feel gracious day
Cool calm and collective day
Take a super stiff shot day
Go to class in my icy whites day
Pop my collar day
Call my warsum baby momma day
Have a cool conversation with my kids day
Baby momma drama day
Bitch don’t kill my vibe day
The world is mines day
Shake the haters off day
Pull them bands out and play day
Make it rain day
I see you lookin witcho lookin ass day
Slap that ass day
Fake love day
Giver her the world day
Pick the world up and drop it on yo fuckin head day
The glass is half full half empty day
Find the good in the bad day
Fuck You! but have a nice day!
A Good Day
Today is a good day
I woke up today
I went to work today
I got paid today
I spent time with my kids today
I made it back home safe today
So the next day I get to repeat today
I must say today was a good day
Living inside the chamber of my soul
Lies a candle burning making a hole
Dripping wax melting away
Spills from its walls throughout each day
Somehow the fire has reached my mind
Billowing smoke that makes me go blind
Flames now released twist-n-turn
Push through my heart oh how it burns
“Put it out” I hear myself scream
Release me from this darkened dream
“No” she says with a wicked smile
I plan to stay for quite a while
My tears aren’t enough to put out the flames
Engulfing my heart she’s enjoying her games
All the deceit is what ignites this candle
All the untruth I cannot handle
So I warn my dear brothers to guard their hearts
Because one little lie is where it all starts
I first met my demon on 3/9/80
born not breathing, he tried to
kill me as a baby
3 yrs later he came in the form of
a family member, split my head
open. That was something I will
Tried again when I was 6 yrs old.
He was the drunk driver that
almost killed me when I was
crossing the road.
12 yrs old, I knew I was hell bound,
pushed off a 3rd story balcony.
I didn’t wake up til the next
day after I hit the ground.
By the age of 23 I was shot 3
times, by this age I didn’t
give a fuck about much either.
I’m living or dying.
26 yrs old, he took my youngest
child, I didn’t know how to take it
lost in depression & misery, I
wish he would’ve took me & just
let my son make it.
In my 30’s he came disguised as
my only friend. I fell in love w/
my demon, by this time he was
Consumed so much, I even stopped
breathing. I even died one time,
my heart stopped beating.
It’s nothing short of a miracle
that I’m 42 now.
Ask me how I made it this far,
I couldn’t even tell you how.
As you can see, all lines in Today Must Be end with the word “day”.This poetic technique of repeating a word or words at the end of lines is called epistrophe. Her Ebony uses the repetition to really drive home what kind of day she is having. By using it over and over, the reader feels a ramping up of tension that builds onto the emotions of the poem about her not very good day. Take this wonderful idea from Ebony and write a poem where each line ends with the word “day”. Use the poem to talk about what kind of day you are having. Be sure to focus the poem on one type of emotion so that the repetition helps expand the emotion for the reader. Remember, it doesn’t have to be a negative emotion, you can choose to focus on the good of the day as well.
In Ebony Stewart’s poem Fear, we see her reflect on the power of fear. The poem opens with the line “I am asked to write about the birth of my demons”, but instead of telling that story, Ebony writes about the many ways fear can manifest in someone’s life and how that manifestation can take over and control them. Write a poem where you talk about fear. It could be a poem about the time you felt most afraid, it could be a poem about what fear looks like to you, it could be a poem about what frightens you the most right now. Take a moment to reflect on your relationship with fear and write about what comes to mind.