Suggested Reading: I Be, But I Ain’t


After attending the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference (AWP; You can also find out more about it clicking here), I have found myself inspired by poetry once again. As many readers of this blog and personal aquaintances know, poetry is something I enjoy but of course it gets difficult to keep up with poetry when I have academics to worry about. It has been a while since I have picked up a chapbook, which is a short book of poetry. AWP was definitely the place to pick up new reads. Fortunately I picked up a book that had been on my radar for a while. I picked up, “I Be, But I Ain’t” by Aziza Barnes.

Her collection of poetry looks at her experiences as a black woman in a raw and beautiful manner. Her poems have an urgency that I find so refreshing. An urgency that is needed to learn the truth. The truth of her experience and those around her and her ancestors. Her poems feel like a time machine. A time machine that will take you to the time of slavery and to the future.

My favorite poem in her collection is titled “Descendants.” She divides the poem into five characters that are described in such a riveting manner. Barnes knows how to describe a scenario or experience through simple explanations of such characters. These characters come to life through action and imagery. I lean towards poems that do not use too much imagery and metaphors, I appreciate experiences that I can relate and empathize with. Aziza does a great job of describing characters through their actions. I felt like I knew the characters in a personal manner. “Descendants” is a piece where you always discover something new about a character each time you read it.

You can check out Aziza’s Twitter here and stay updated with her upcoming projects through there.


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