New Role Model: Shailja Patel

For my upper level English class themed around diaspora and post-colonialism, I have to read Migritude by Shailja Patel, a third generation African Indian who grew up in Kenya then studied in England then moved to America. I kind of put off reading it for a bit but I started it yesterday and I am absolutely mind blown.

Her poetry is absolutely beautiful, raw, honest, refreshing…I underlined almost an entire poem from the collection. And as I was reading more of her delicious words and as they sank down to the pit of my stomach and my mind, I knew that I wanted to be like her, write as honestly as her about big themes, important things to the world and simultaneously to myself.

And just when I thought that she couldn’t get any better, I watched a YouTube video of her performing her poetry live:

And then decided that she was officially one of the coolest, bravest people I have ever known. Wow. That bravery, that electricity as she reads.

As I watched her recite her poetry from memory in other videos as she walked around the stage, punctuating her words with flames from inside, I felt myself lean in, be drawn into her performance and then I knew that I wanted to it. I’ve always loved performing and I also love writing poetry, so why not combine the both? And it’s always been fun for me memorizing works (last one I did was The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe which was amazing to recite out loud as I was freed from reading the words and could immerse myself in the words).

I’m not sure when I’ll be able to piece something together, or even when I’ll be able to perform something. Maybe I’ll just record something for fun? I’m not sure, but I know now that I want to do it.


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