The Poetry of Lemonade: Meet the Writer Behind Beyonce’s Film
On April 23, Beyonce dropped the highly-awaited and hyped visual album, “Lemonade” exclusively on Tidal and HBO. One song is visually treated after the other and the film flows together as an album is meant to be heard: in the sequence and course the artist intended it.
As the seconds begin to roll, Beyonce can be heard not singing, but speaking in prose. As transition in between each individual song, Beyonce speaks more poetry. It speaks of loss, it speaks of insecurity, it speaks of infidelity, it speaks of womanhood.
Unlike many projects in the media, Beyonce’s visual piece is centered around the inclusion of black girls and women, using almost exclusively women of color as the subject of “Lemonade.” One of those women was the poet behind the project, Warsan Shire.
Warsan Shire has become one of the leading names in the new face of internet poetry. Shire’s work has inspired young writers to take to Tumblr and Twitter to compose provoking and self aware verse. Kenyan born and Somali by birth, Shire writes often of the immigrant lens and of her concept of home. Shire was the Young Poet Laureate of London in 2014, the city’s first. She has released a collection, titled “Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth.”
Here are some of the highlights of Shire’s prose Beyonce luckily introduced the world to.
“I tried to make a home outta you.
But doors lead to trapdoors. A stairway leads to nothing.
Unknown women wander the hallways at night.
Where do you go when you go quiet?
You remind me of my father, a magician. Able to exist in two places at once.
In the tradition of men in my blood you come home at 3AM and lie to me.
What are you hiding? The past, and the future merge to meet us here.
What luck. What a fucking curse.”
“In that time my hair grew past my ankles.
I slept on a mat on the floor.
I swallowed a sword.
I levitated into the basement, I confessed my sins and was baptized in a river.
Got on my knees and said, “Amen.” And said I mean. I whipped my own back and asked for dominion at your feet.
I threw myself into a volcano.
I drank the blood and drank the wine.
I sat alone and begged and bent at the waist for God.
I crossed myself and thought I saw the devil.
I grew thickened skin on my feet.
I bathed in bleach and plugged my menses with pages from the Holy Book.
But still inside me coiled deep was the need to know.
Are you cheating? Are you cheating on me?”
“So what are you gonna say at my funeral now that you’ve killed me?
Here lies the body of the love of my life, whose heart I broke without a gun to my head. Here lies the mother of my children both living and dead. Rest in peace, my true love, who I took for granted, most bomb pussy, who because of me, sleep evaded. Her shroud is loneliness.
Her God was listening.
Her heaven would be a love without betrayal.
Ashes to ashes. Dust to side chicks.”
“Dear moon, we blame you for floods,
for the flush of blood,
for men who are also wolves.
We blame you for the night, for the dark, for the ghosts.”
“Mother dearest, let me inherit the Earth.
Teach me how to make him beg.
Let me make up for the years he made you wait.
Did he bend your reflection?
Did he make you forget your own name?
Did he convince you he was a God?
Did you get on your knees daily?
Do his eyes close like doors?
Are you a slave to the back of his head?
Am I talking about your husband or your father?”
“My grandma said, nothing real can be threatened.
True love brought salvation back into me.
With every tear came redemption.
And my torturer became my remedy.
So we’re gonna heal, we’re gonna start again.
You’ve brought the orchestra.
Synchronized swimmers, you are the magician.
Pull me back together again the way you cut me in half.
Make the woman in doubt disappear.
Pull the sorrow from between my legs like silk, knot after knot after knot.
The audience applauds…
…but we can’t hear them.”
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