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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.



Ebony Stewart:

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.

Poems:


Today must be…


I slept bad, but I had a dream day

I’m feel gracious day

Cool calm and collective day

Opportunity 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

Somebody’s birthday

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



untitled


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



My Demon


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

always remember.


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

heroin.


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.



Writing Prompts:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.


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