Titi Sonuga

Titi Sonuga

Titilope Sonuga is a Nigerian-born spoken word poet and winner of the 2011 Canadian Authors Association Emerging Writer Award for her first book Down To Earth. Born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria the duality of her African and Canadian upbringing is clear in her distinct form of storytelling that follows in the oral tradition of her Yoruba roots. She is actively involved in the Canadian poetry community as a member of the Edmonton Poetry Festival Board of Directors, and the SpoCan (Spoken Word of Canada) Board of Directors. She is the founding member of the Breath In Poetry Collective, a group of poets and poetry enthusiast that create spaces for artistic expression in the Edmonton community. Her stories have been told on stages across Canada and have received recognition internationally. She commands the stage with a style of orature that is uniquely sultry and rhythmic.


The moment
you step into this school
you know these kids
have more to teach you
than you can teach them
you practice poetry
for leisure
while they grasp
pens like lifelines
trying to write something
to keep their hearts
just for today
then you find yourself
floating in
a sea of eyes
with too many
stories in them
in a library
with too many
empty shelves
and they are waiting
waiting for you to drop words
heavy enough
to keep them
anchored to another day
hoping your lofty words
will catch their wings
and lift them
they've been caged
in this knowing silence
too long
front and centre
a girl
maybe sixteen
cradling her heavy belly
she cocks her head
a slight smile on her face
she dares you to
judge her
dares you to
tell her what you know about
life lessons and mistakes
her eyes say
you know nothing
of beauty
till you've known
ugly by name
you know nothing
of struggle
till you've stood
in these shoes
now tell me
miss poet
tell me
what could you possibly
teach me
that I haven't already learned
knees to the floor
praying the ocean of my tears
would swallow me whole
I dare you
I want to tell her
these are the easy days
embrace this silence love
remember it on
days when it seems
like all you've got
is a screaming mouth to feed
beg your heart to grow
as fast as this belly
you'll need it
for times when
you've got nothing
but a ticking time bomb
behind your ribcage

there will be times
when you will marvel
at heaven
and contemplate hell
on bathroom floors
in the same instant
searching for that boy
with his fumbling mouth
full of promises

But I promise you this
It'll be the greatest beauty
you have ever created
you are incubating your
second chance
standing on the verge
of giving birth to the purest love
you've ever known

Then I remember
this is a poetry workshop
and I'm looking at a teacher
whose face says
"please just keep these kids entertained"

So I read some poems about
my mother
tell them how my father hid life lessons
in math problems

I'm hoping the words
she will hear are


and love
and love
and love


Birds © 2012 Calgary Spoken Word Society