By Anissa Durham
Upile Chisala’s second collection of poetry, Nectar, reads like a beautiful tale of resilience, integrity and the power in not giving up. Her words are simple, short and to the point yet leave a powerful punch after each verse, leaving a reader to want more. Broken up into five chapters she emphasizes the importance of growing no matter where you were planted.
Elevating Black Voices in Poetry
Chisala is from Malawi and knows very well how Black women are overlooked and mistreated. She details how despite the stereotypes plaguing Black women she wants to be proud of the skin we live in and embrace healing. Too often Black women are seen as strong, having a high pain tolerance and a hard exterior. Nectar teaches society that Black women are strong but they are also soft, tender, fragile and human. Chisala humanizes the Black woman experience by breaking down stereotypes into simple prose.
She also encourages women of all colors to stand up for the love they deserve, even though it will hurt, finding love that is free of pain is worth it. Her words are rooted in a heritage of women who were stomped on and forgotten, she builds on this by providing a lineage of empowerment to Black women.
“Can’t I just be a Black woman who loves herself in
peace? Without having to explain why my skin
(be it light honey or molasses)
is a dream?
Why my hair
(coarse or sleek)
Is a crown?
Can’t I just be a Black woman who loves being a
Without having to be sorry
or polite about it.
Who else has to justify loving themselves like this?
Who else has to fight for the right to call
Can’t I just be a Black woman who loves herself in
Photo: Courtesy Upile Chisala
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