// they taught me to write like Shakespeare. to write like Emily Dickinson. to write like Robert Frost. to write like Mary Shelley.
but those writers never moved my soul. never filled me up. never quenched my thirst.
then i found Sonia Sanchez. and Zora Neale Hurston . and Toni Morrison. and Molara Ogundipe. and Nikki Giovanni. and Flora Nwapa . Chimamanda adichie. nayyirah waheed. Miriam Harris. Ama Ata Aidoo. and Lorraine Hansberry. and Gwendolyn Brooks. and Catherine Acholonu.
their words left marks all over me. moved my soul. spilled over in me.
it was through their work that i yearned to be a writer too.
the writers i never learned about in English class, Bilphena Yahwon
Writing is something that I’ve always loved to do. From an early age, writing became my only means of communication. My grandfather, who is a poet, always encouraged me to express my feelings through my pen. I will admit though, my relationship with writing was strained for some time. As an African woman, I couldn’t seem to identify with the writers presented to me in my English classes. They were all either white women or white males. My story far too different from theirs. So when my teachers would ask me to find meaning in their words, I struggled. I wanted something that would tell the story of home-Africa. Something that would tell my story of being an African woman. Something that would move me to tears but instead I was left reading words about places I was not familiar with and didn’t care to be familiar with. It was not until college that I became exposed to African writers. Not just males but also women. It was then that I took on my own style. It was then I decided that I needed to tell my story just as they were telling theirs. It was then I found my voice.
April is National poetry month. For this month of April, I will be sharing my favorite poems by my favorite African women poets. I think it’s very important that future African writers, especially women writers, are exposed to works by African women at an early age.
If you would like to share some of your favorite works by African women writers, feel free to submit to me @ email@example.com