Reflections After My First Semester

One of my least favorite questions is “How was/is school?” But I do have some thoughts on what I’ve experienced this semester in college and so I decided to pen these down and share, as popular/unpopular as that might make me. I’m not going to try summing up in everything in a word or phrase, so if that’s what you want to hear, sorry bro.

[Note: the first point is the longest, so feel free to skip past the racial stuff in the next 4 paragraphs.]

The past 4 months, I have felt more African than I have ever felt before. I don’t know how many people are familiar with my identity complex. Sometimes, I have a hard time feeling African. All the time, I have a hard time feeling like anything else. These sentiments are better expressed in an article I wrote for Clapback Magazine called “Local Third Culture Kids”. I knew this would happen to me, though. It makes perfect sense to me how leaving the country would make me feel more connected to it. When suddenly thrust into an environment you do not fit organically into, where you were raised begins to feel even more like home. And as tired as many people are of African immigrant fiction, those stories are relevant. The one I’m thinking about now is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah. The longer I stayed in America, the more I felt like I could finally understand what I’d read about the characters a couple of years ago. I had a strong desire to re-read the book, feeling that it would make more sense to me now. I actually bought it off amazon. Unfortunately, I didn’t re-read it this semester, though. I’ll try returning to it next semester.

Part of the reason I felt more African than ever is because I felt very separate from the African-Americans. The rest of the world sees us the same way; black skin is black skin – but I don’t think Africans feel like we are the same. (Which is not to say that this leads to a lack of solidarity as Black People.) If I’m being honest, I have to say that many times, it feels like African-Americans don’t understand, or forget to consider, that we are not from the same backgrounds and simply haven’t experienced the same things, and don’t necessarily act and think the same way they do. This is not to undermine either party’s experiences. Sometimes it feels like they are incapable of comprehending. I daresay it’s not malicious on their part. Perhaps it’s just difficult to imagine lifestyles you’ve never known and easier to be led by what your eyes tell you. Perhaps it’s difficult to understand that “wokeness” is different depending on where you come from because the most dominant issues in our environments are not identical. I’ve found myself being occasionally jealous of those Africans that moved to the USA at a fairly young age because it seems they have the best of both worlds and can relate to everyone at once.

The relations between me and them are almost funny. During orientation week, I remember being asked by an African-American a couple of times how come I not only spoke so well, but “understood all of the American slang”. I’m not offended. It wasn’t malicious. It just showed me how unaware Americans are of how much everything about how their “culture” has infiltrated all the rest of the world while the realities of our worlds hardly ever permeate through to them back. I feel like I make some African-Americans uncomfortable. They don’t know what to make of me, so ignoring me seems like the best option. I’ve experienced eyes unwilling to settle on me while an AA speaks to a person standing right next to me and doesn’t even bother to acknowledge my presence.

I’m worried about some of them. I think they have identity complexes. Spoken word is one of the areas where I see it. I do not intend to undermine the history and present of trials and stigma faced by People of Color in America, but I can’t help but be tired of too much poetry sounding the same. I feel like some people use these themes and poetic styles to try validating themselves. Forgive me if this sentiment is insensitive, but it’s like, “If I write like this about that then I’m a legit POC and everyone will be able to see it.” People can go straight to overkill. True story: near the end of the sem, I went to go get some late night snacks with my Filipino friend and there, we met an AA who was my friend’s friend but also seemed to want to pretend like my presence was ignorable. Me, I just wanted my Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. But when I heard what she was saying, I legit wanted to laugh out loud. Going on about how there are so many spicy snacks and POC are supposed to love spicy snacks/food. But she could barely stand spicy snacks. “I’m such a bad POC.” Those exact words. That sentence was said at least 3 times in her slightly artificial-sounding rant. “I’m such a bad POC.” I just…I can’t…Oh, come on, Ghanaians, please tell me you understand why I find this strange. It really sounded partially like a theatrical show put on for the sake of my (ignorable) presence, with a touch of desire for affirmation (from self?) and identity complex. But ah, well.

This semester, I have felt like I am recovering the leadership qualities and the boldness that I think my high school environment and experiences broke within me. In high school, there was a very disturbing “leadership” culture that made it such that it was always the exact same people being chosen for absolutely any opportunities all the time, both to the point of neglect of the rest of the student population and staff effectively brainwashing students about who a leader is, so that everyone would be on the same (wrong, IMO) page. [By the way, read my novella, Puppets, because I kind of satirized the state of the school in there.] Obviously, I wasn’t one of the automatic options for leader candidates and I think I eventually gave up on my ability to be any sort of leader in an institution. At least in that context. But now, I’ve started finding my voice again. I’m no longer quenching the instincts to suggest new ideas and solutions, to be the gel that allows people to work together. I feel like I’m growing back into my real self within the context of school.

I rediscovered my love for dancing. Of all the classes I took this semester, hip-hop was my favorite. It wasn’t a theory class, it was a dance class. It was the one thing I looked forward to going to twice a week. I used to dance. Aside doing ballet for 10 years, I also did hip-hop for about 3. I stopped when I went to boarding school/high school, unfortunately. There are several reasons, but suffice it to say the social and human environments were not conducive for the continuous practice of this love of mine. And no, I’m not a fantastic dancer, but I still had mad, mad fun with it.

I fell in love with African history! I took an African History to 1800 class and was absolutely fascinated by a lot of what I learned. You see, previously, I had known barely anything beyond Ghanaian history, and even that, with a major focus on colonialism, which sometimes felt more like study of the White People in Ghana than Ghanaians in Ghana. I mean, thankfully, I wasn’t required to learn dumb stuff about the actual history of the British or the French or any of that previously-compulsory colonial syllabus type stuff. The fact that we stopped at 1800 means we never really got deep into the slavery stuff, though. I’m absolutely enthralled by Songhay, Soninke and Malinke traditions. I love ancient African societies’ mythology more than anything else. If you know how I am about things like fairytales and Egyptian and Grec0-Roman ancient mythology this isn’t surprising at all. I’m pleased to say I have enough material now (or I know where to look for them) for a couple of novels I wanted to write, and one of them was begun nearly immediately after the class ended for the semester. It’s being written. Learn about medieval African history (especially West African history) if you ever can.

Unfortunately, the schooling part of school was impossible to ignore. Many times, I was frustrated out of my mind about having to be there and actually complete assignments. I wasted so much time staring at the walls, wondering what was the bloody point of all this. I called my friends and ranted instead of doing my homework many times. And honestly, I wasn’t overwhelmed by the size of the workload for the most part. I was irritated by the work’s existence. Everyone who told me that school would finally start to be less cumbersome once I got to college is a liar. Instead, what I felt was exaggerated pointlessness. The things I was already learning on surface level and found pointless (to me) before now had to be studied in more detail at college level. And going in-depth into something you already find pointless doesn’t suddenly make it look full of meaning. It just becomes extra annoying. I hate school. So much so that I need people to stop asking me “How are studies?” because I don’t give a damn about them and it’s painful to lie – but I can’t tell them the truth if I value my time and emotions. I made the mistake of confessing the truth to one uncle over the phone mid-way through the semester. He responded in the typical Ghanaian adult way, with a semi-lecture and lack of empathy, and I began to cry. I wasn’t crying so much at his words but rather my extreme exhaustion of hearing them over and over again. That’s how I came to write the poem So You Stopped Speaking.

Oh, but how can I talk about my experience in college and leave out the biggest theme of my life? Solitude. Loneliness. (Oh, BTW, listen to Solitaire EP. Also, to better understand my relationship with Solitude, read My Relationship with Solitude: Stockholm Solomania. Warning, though: it’s long. Perhaps as long as this post.) So, at the beginning of the semester, we had orientation adventures (OA). There were about 12 different OAs and I’d say an average of 30 people on each. You can read about my very interesting experience at mine at “Evacuation OA”.

So many people made their friends for the rest of the semester at their OA. It was the same at mine, though not exactly for me, and that made me sad. People who had never known each other before OA met there and clicked so well that they became best friends and formed their own squads and cliques. I couldn’t help but feel jealous when I saw them around. But I was mostly solitary during the semester. Near the end, I realized I was making one or two real friends, though, so I’m grateful for that. And I think my roommate might be something of a social butterfly so the contrast there is real. But yeah. #TeamSolitaire.

All in all, I’m not miserable. Which is not to say that I truly think I’ll last out all 4 years. But I’ll take the shots as they come and face the hills when I meet them.



My Thoughts: Under the Udala Trees

Author: Chinelo Okparanta

23719408I first came across this book when looking for another one in the library, and behold: they were right next to each other! (The book I had been looking for was Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death which was brilliant, by the way). And as you may or may not know, purple is my favorite color, and the hard cover (not the jacket, which was not present at the time) of Under the Udala Trees was purple, so naturally, I had to pick it up. I Googled it then and there and decided that it must make my reading list immediately.

In summary, it was underwhelming, and just…okay. For one thing, it was very easy to get through. Not because it was particularly engaging but more because it was simple and predictable, both in terms of language and storyline. I know that what I am about to say will sound like an insult, though I do not think I mean it that way: the book sounded like it was being written by a very proficient twelve-year-old. The language was easily understood but not sophisticated. At first, I let it be, because at the beginning of the story, its main character, Ijeoma, is 8 years old – even though the recounting of her life as more like a flashback from the point of view of an uncertain age in adulthood. But I allowed it. The issue was that as I journeyed with Ijeoma into adulthood, there was absolutely no change or maturation in her tone, and that left me uncomfortable. I admit, however, that this may not be a problem with the book but rather a problem of preference. E no be by force to use (my perception of) sophisticated tone. Some people write like Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Others write like Chinelo Okparanta. Maybe Akotowaa just likes books that sound like Zafon.

At the back of the book was a note about the then-president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan’s law that made engagement and aid in homosexual activities a punishable crime. That, and the fact that I do not know of any other LGBT+ African fiction book shows me the importance of a book like this breaking into the sphere and simply existing. (But also, I’m ignorant, so feel free to comment titles of African LGBT+ books for me!) Yet I still can’t help but feel that it didn’t make the impact I think a book like it should have made. And I’m not just talking about the literary media exploding over it or whatever. I’m talking about the story itself. It felt shallow and lacking.

Every single character felt flat and annoying at many points (if not for the whole book), including the main one. There was nothing about anyone that drew me in, made me love, want to be like, or even hate them. I was barely reacting to any characters at all, and when I did, with mild boredom. They were all predictable and not particularly interesting. The romance itself felt flat, which I suppose was my biggest issue. I couldn’t understand why Ijeoma fell in love with Amina or Ndidi. The former seemed very naive and unattractive to me – lacking in personality. The latter was only slightly better for being quietly daring, yet still not intriguing enough for me to fall in love with. And it wasn’t because of their genders that I couldn’t get into them; in any case, if I am reading a first-person narrative from a lesbian, I should be in a very good position to sympathize with her and love who and what she loves, shouldn’t I? Maybe I need a bisexual or homosexual girl to tell me if she could see the appeal in Amina or Ndidi because I just can’t do it myself. But well, the book’s existence alone is important for the culture, I guess.

As predictable and shallow as I think the characters were, I will still admit that the experiences of Ijeoma are almost realistically like what I would expect a young lesbian girl to have gone through, in terms of the attitudes of other people…for the most part. Again, where I think there is lack is in its mildness. I genuinely think there are deep, deep horror stories that a novel like this could have reflected. When the undercover-hideout-not-church burned, it should have been so painful that I cried. Ijeoma’s mother was surprisingly lenient, though disturbingly hard-headed. She didn’t resort to corporal correction or even to placing her daughter in the hands of someone else (priest? Witch doctor?) that she thought would correct her. But also, maybe I have a stereotyped imagination of a typical African parent’s reaction to a homosexual child. And I’m not trying to tell anyone how they should write their story, too. I think if I had wanted to write a book like this, I might have gone to interview a homosexual person just to have something to model my book authentically after. I don’t know how Chinelo came up with her own storyline, though. I’ll go and look for sources.

One particularly bothersome thing was problematic theology. There was absolutely no character that looked at theology from a perspective that wasn’t particularly suited for their own purposes. Every single character had problematic interpretations. Ijeoma’s mother had her sickening interpretations of sexuality related scripture that sent her as far as approval of rape; Ijeoma seemed to be trying to interpret scripture in a way that undermined the sovereignty of God; Chibundu was just lazy about all of it. But well, I’m not one of those people who believes the highest purpose of novel-writing is explicit moral education of the public so… Nevertheless, I wonder if any reader of this book who is only vaguely familiar with theological perspectives – as I suppose many of us are – would have gained anything new after reading this.

Let me just say though, that I enjoyed the inclusion of short folktales and songs as the story went on. Though I could not always see their legitimate relevance, I like stories within stories. It was just a bit reminiscent of Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon in that way. Now that I’ve said that, to sum up all that I have said so far, this novel actually felt more like a large fable than a novel. It had that kind of texture of a plain and simple tale designed to just teach its audience something. As if it, in some way, lacked a certain complexity that I associate with novels. But yeah – I think it was an okay read.


Your Journey Is No One Else’s. Face Forward.

You feel you are prone to losing your way. You are only confused because your eyes are too used to drifting. You will trip if you keep this up.
You are a coherent unit. How will your feet know where to go without your eyes’ guidance? Face forward.
No matter how many people are around you, remember that your journey will always be lonely, and that comparison is prison. People move at different paces, some with louder footsteps than others. Turn your head to the left or the right, and what you see will intimidate you. But their roads don’t lead to your destination. Calm down. Stop looking at them with envy. Your pace and path are good for your task.
Your journey is no one else’s. Face forward.
Photo by Samuel Lin (@mildlydystopian on Instagram)

Solitaire was a huge experiment…but apparently, it worked

[Hi – please, if you haven’t listened to Solitaire, my debut spoken word project, please go and do that and come back. Thanks.]


I was madly nervous during the listening session. This was 2 weeks before Solitaire was due to drop. I had invited some of the coolest people in Accra that I knew and trusted to come witness and give me feedback for the biggest and riskiest thing I have ever done in my life to this point. Because they were my favorite people, I wanted to know how they’d respond as I believed it would give me an idea of how people as cool as them (AKA my target audience) would respond.

Surprisingly enough, the thing I was most concerned about was people hearing my words and realizing how wack and corny my lyrics were and finally see what a fraud of a writer I was. LOL. Imagine – my writing was just about the one thing nobody complained about. So what’s wrong with me? (BTW, all Solitaire lyrics are available on

Solitaire is a huge experiment. And it wasn’t intended to be, as unbelievable as that may sound. I have never heard a project that sounds like Solitaire before, true, but I realized that after it was completed. I didn’t start out from the beginning thinking, “Okay, for this project, I’m going to try my best to go all out in breaking all the rules.” It seems befitting to my personality to have done something like that, but that isn’t what happened. Solitaire came to life mostly organically. I described the circumstances around its lyrical composition over-dramatically in the blog post “Where did Solitaire even come from?

Solitaire (the poem itself) was written while I was blanked out in math class. Ephemeron was written in my room in boarding school during very hormonal moments. It was cathartic, though. Imagine harboring hurt for 2+ years from people whom you are forced to see nearly every day anyway. Dear God was written under high duress (that is, Part 1). I don’t know why it ended up following a regular beat. These things just happen to me. I think Dear God was one of those casual voice notes I sent my manager like, “Look, Ekko, I wrote something.” It wasn’t even originally part of the tracklist. We decided to replace one of the originally intended tracks with Dear God very late in Solitaire’s compilation stage. I wrote Part 2 when Ekko and I decided that Tronomie should sing more than just background vocals. I’m glad he did. It gave the poem a sense of further completeness. And his voice is amazing. Love you, Solitaire God! ❤

To Be has an interesting backstory. It was not originally a poem. I had written a blog post called Comfort as Yourself, and during Ekko’s daily rounds of Akotz Stalking Sessions (back when he actually had time to recreationally care about my life), he found the blog post and sent me a Facebook message immediately, telling me to turn it into a poem. That’s why, to some extent, I feel like he wrote it rather than me – even though he never touched my pen or my words. Maybe we both wrote it in a way.

During the listening session, someone asked me if I had tried saying Undeath of the Artist, as more like a poem and less like a rap. I had forgotten about it then, but in fact, I had tried. In February, I took a break off from school to record demos of every intended Solitaire poem in the studio with Tronomie. He pressed record and stopped halfway through, like “No. This needs a beat.” Um…well, I knew that. A few months later, I met EDWVN for the first time in person. I had been following him for a while on Twitter and had finally mustered up the courage to enter his DMs and ask whether we could be friends. The first day we met, he played a bunch of stuff he’d produced for me (the only productions of his I’d ever heard before were from Sutra’s mixtape, The Art of Being. I’d been stalking Sutra for a while then too.) I hadn’t even paying attention to his music; I’d just thought he was a cool person from his tweets. But then when it finally came to time to start thinking about production, well, I thought, if EDWVN didn’t produce it, anka who would produce it? And as you can see, the production is cooler than the poem itself. So maybe I made a wrong move. LOL

Solitaire is a freaking hybrid.

  • The Curse of They is literally a sonnet said out loud.
  • Undeath of the Artist is a thing most people can’t fully classify as rap or spoken word.
  • Ephemeron fits classical perceptions of what spoken word should be but yo – have you heard those sound effects? (Shout-out to Ekko and TheGentleMan for making that poem sonically pregnant with creativity.)
  • Solitaire is a poem made out of a freaking card game. That’s not normal. This is how I know I’m mad.
  • IWITP is a spoken word song. WTF is a spoken word song anyway?
  • Dear God is a prayer-rap-call-response-poem-song in 2 parts. Whoa.
  • To Be is a poemified blog post. That’s weird.

The whole project ended up being strange, even to me. But maybe that’s just the only way it would make sense because I’m strange. I don’t fully understand myself, much less am I able to understand or predict the nature of the art that comes out of me. Solitaire was a huge experiment…but apparently, it worked.


Onyesonwu made me very happy!

Even though it doesn’t feel like it for me, I can see quantitatively that I’ve read a lot in 2016. There have been years of more intense reading, I’ve felt. But despite all the books I’ve read, there have only been a few that really energized me, made me think “Yes, this is what I’ve been looking for!” Perhaps The Summer of Chasing Mermaids did that for me because you know how I love remixed fairytales and mystic things in general. But Who Fears Death, oh man! Reading it was like ingesting an extra-strong dose of a drug after you’ve been desensitized to the dose you usually take. You finally get that kick again!


Since I read my first Nnedi Okorafor book five or so years ago, I have been awestruck, thinking she is (nearly literally) working magic within the publishing industry. I did not know that African sci-fi was a thing until I read her. The first thing of hers I read was probably Akata Witch, and when I was done, I thought, “I have never read anything like this before.” This is how I feel about Who Fears Death. I have never read anything like it before. It’s also the first novel of hers I’ve read that isn’t explicitly a children’s book. But categorization is a weird thing (and so perhaps we should avoid it when we can, but I don’t know) and so I can’t exactly say which age group it was written for or whether it matters at all.

The title of this book, by the way, is the meaning of the name “Onyesonwu”, which is now one of my favorite names in the world.

There is a whole lot about this book that revolves around carnal and biological things, but this wasn’t a deterrent for me; it added to the appeal. What I’m used to is seeing issues like sexism, genital mutilation, cultural and religious norms of gender, intercourse et cetera woven into a narrative; I’m not used to it actually being the narrative. There are stories that include these themes, which could still be told without the themes included. This isn’t one of those stories. If you take a part of it out, you’ve destroyed the story.

Admittedly, most people might not be as smitten as I am by the book just because of the differences in our background and preferences as readers. Perhaps the effective blurring of setting such that the era seems archaic, modern and undecipherable all at once will not impress people. Perhaps the merging of known culture and gap-filler imagination will not impress people. Perhaps others have not been as starved as I have been to read a story as hybrid as this one because they don’t come from a similar world.

I suppose one of the reasons I relate so strongly to the book’s hybridity is because that is what I am and also what I aspire to create. If you have the identity complex of an African raised in Africa in a Western setting or something as confusing as that, you might understand. If nearly every story is either too traditionally monotonous or too Westernized for you to relate to, then you may understand why this book ignited me.

Onyesonwu is such a brilliant, brilliant character. So is Mwita. I don’t understand why people complain about them in their reviews. Of course, they’re annoying. Which human being is not annoying? If you were looking for fairytale perfection, you picked up the wrong book. Their relationship was complex, sometimes impossible to understand, and both of them made ridiculously stupid moves almost incessantly. But you can’t lie and tell me that real life relationships aren’t complex beyond belief.

This art that Greg Ruth made of Onyesonwu is just so, so beautiful!


I like how Nnedi can show elements of real life through fiction but never tell you that it’s a representative for something you’re familiar with, even if it’s obvious. I like how sassy and independent a lot of her characters are. I like how she doesn’t exempt anyone from the flaws of the human condition. I like how she manages to be spiritual without necessarily being religious. I like how her narrative is a mirror to reflect upon ourselves and over our society. And perhaps best of all, I like how she assets here authoritative god power in making and ending a story how she wants to.

Maybe I should explain the last point. Although I may be entirely wrong, I saw lots of evidence to make me assume that I was seeing the Jesus story being retold. If this was her intention, then everything deliberately bent about it was intentional too.

  • A man prophesied to save the world? Bent to woman.
  • Born out of divine orchestration? Bent to born out of rape.
  • Sexually holy until death? Bent to sexually active until death.
  • John the Baptist going before the hero to tell of the hero’s coming? Bent to hero’s abandoned mother going forth anonymously to spread the story of forthcoming liberation through her daughter.
  • Destined to die as a sacrifice for the cause? Bent to destined to die, but exerts power to re-write the story. (I like this because it’s very lexivist! 😀 )

I think while I was reading it, I found a lot of theological conflict in the story – but this was based on knowledge of the real world and not entirely in the story’s world. Even so, there were parts of the fictional world’s theology that I found logically lacking. The problem is that, I didn’t write them down where I found them and now I can’t remember what or where they are. One day, I’ll read this book again and place particular emphasis on finding those and starting a discussion on them. But until then, READ THIS BOOK, OMG IT’S LIT!


Where did Solitaire even come from?

Solitaire is a French word. It means “lonely”/”alone”/”isolated”.

Solitaire is a computer game, designed to be played alone.

I sat in math class almost 2 years ago, and as usual, every single thing was flying over my head. I opened my notebook and saw parabolic graphs I didn’t understand. I would rather have been anywhere but that class; several times rather have been playing Solitaire on my bed. In my room. Away from people and life.

Solitaire was my escape strategy. It was the computer application I went straight to when I didn’t want to think. Thinking was too hard but Solitaire was mindless enough. The Microsoft Collection had about 6 different types of the game, making it nearly impossible for me to get bored of it. And as I sat in that IB Higher Level Math class, I definitely didn’t want to think. However, the class had an unspoken no-computers policy. So instead of Solitaire, I started to scribble words on top of my parabolic graphs.

Perhaps I should have been more concerned about how I fared in that subject, but I genuinely couldn’t bring myself to care. I had my eyes on graduation. With math in particular, I just needed to hit the pass mark and pass on to graduation. Excelling in the subject was out of the question. If I managed to just get by, that alone would be a miracle.

I zoned out completely. Writing it was a mindless endeavor, and it was nearly as much fun as playing the game itself. I had made a new game: a Solitaire word game. Ace. Two. Three. Four. The paragraphs began to form all over the page, squeezed into corners between equations. I was about halfway through by the time the class ended and hadn’t learned a thing. I forgot about my Solitaire word game.

Another math class. I opened my math notebook and saw the paragraphs of my word game. Well, if I hadn’t gotten anything from the last class, what were the chances I’d benefit from this one? I might as well continue writing. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten.

At some points, I would walk to school alone. The most popular girl in my class never walked alone. She literally had the nickname of “queen”, possibly because of her influential online presence and general reputation. I wasn’t the biggest fan of her friends but their appearance of untouchable “royalty” still intimidated me. I tried to ignore them as I walked. I did not always succeed.

This was the period of my intense obsession with Janelle Monae. Nearly every time I put my earphones in, I would go straight to this one album: The Electric Lady.  For a while, my favorite song was QUEEN. I loved these lyrics:

“Even if it makes others uncomfortable, I will love who I am.”

I wanted to be QUEEN. I wanted to love who I was. Jack. Queen. King.

My word-game had turned into a poem now: “Solitaire”.


In this period of the Electric Lady and Solitaire addictions, one of my roommates was an artist. The previous year, we had taken IGCSE Art together. She abandoned art for humanities in the IB Diploma Programme. I left it too, for Mathematics and Physics. In the months and year after we left Art, she would periodically ask me, “When was the last time you drew?” If my pencils were food, they’d have gone to rot from having remained untouched and stale for so long. The artist in me felt like she had died.

But I refused to let her go. As Dylan Thomas said,

“Do not go gently into that good night

Rage, rage against the dying of the light”

If the artist in me had died, she must by all means be revived: “Undeath of the Artist”.


I used to think the friends I had the first year would be my friends forever. Our bond seemed so strong and permanent. I didn’t know how ephemeral the whole thing was going to be. The close circle broke up. I wrote my pain. I vented privately. I vented publicly. In very unpoetic words and several expletives. Finally, about 2 years later, when I’d calmed down a little, something else came out, in the form of something that finally resembled poetry. I used it to let go of my harbored hurt: “Ephemeron”.


The last year of high school was the one where my classmates wanted to make memories. Selfies and group pictures were taken nearly constantly. I felt disconnected. It was a struggle between wanting to fit into a community and knowing that this community was not meant for me to fit into anyway. There were many pictures. For the most part, I wasn’t in the pictures: “IWITP“.


Outside of the math classroom was the balcony. The classroom was on the second floor. I stood there and looked down at the mostly-empty car park. A classmate of mine was standing next to me. “If I jumped from here, do you think I’d die?” I asked.

“Yes,” he responded. And maybe he told me something along the lines of “don’t do it”; but by that time I wasn’t listening anymore. God, I had questions. God, I needed answers.

Dear God, I began to write, as I sat in a teacher’s office perhaps a few minutes later. I did not want to be in school. I did not feel like doing life. What did all of this mean? What did God want from me?

With a backlog of homework, a bucketload of tears and a series of abysmal scores on tests, I found myself in the wardrobe room of my dorm some time later. It was small and cramped, and there were no chairs. My heart was extra-heavy and I plopped down on the floor. There was no one to talk to. No one but God. There, on the floor, at my lowest, I continued my letter to Him: “Dear God”.


I walked into the dining hall, went in line for my food and sat down at an empty table to eat. As I observed the woefully microcosmic world around me, I wondered when I’d become so comfortable with this phenomenon of eating alone. I watched others freshly out of the food line looking nervously around the hall for familiar faces that would welcome them to the hopefully empty seats at their tables. I genuinely wondered how come they weren’t as comfortable as I was with eating alone. Did they not see the liberation in it? What was all this anxiety about being seen as solitary in room full of people? Maybe the experiences that had forced me to be an hardened outsider had simply led me, after all these years, to become an expert in keeping myself company: “To Be.”


Every time I performed Solitaire, at least one person would ask me one of two questions:

  1. How do you memorize all that?
  2. Where can I find a recording of Solitaire?

The answer to the first question was: it’s easy. It follows a sequence, and it has moments of rhyme. If you know what a pack of cards looks like, Solitaire’s lyrics are easily crammed.

The answer to the second question was always: nowhere. (Until now.)

I present to you my spoken word project, Solitaire, on 19th December 2016.