Perfect Timing

A week at Lochgoilhead, Scotland

Today is surreal! My second book is officially released and available to purchase right now. I was speaking to my neighbour Phil, sharing my good news. He ordered his eBook version for 99p there and then over the garden fence.  He’s going to start reading it this evening because he’s just finished reading his other eBook. Perfect timing!

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens”  Ecclesiastes 3:1

I wrote the poems in my new book – The Silenced Voice: There is Purpose in Pain while completing my Doctorate.  I can recall sharing one of my poems with my supervisor Dr Gail Lewis, and she advised me to focus on my academic writing. Undeterred, I used poems as props to stimulate discussions about the psychosocial at two academic conferences, and to generate debates when used as data, with the encouragement and support from my supervisor. It was a risk my supervisor advised, but it was worth it, because it generated a rich discussion about the unconscious, feeling invisible, othered and not belonging in institutional and academic spaces.

I’ve always believed that poetry can be more than art. It can be used in academia as data, and in the workplace to support wellbeing, because poetry can provide a cathartic relief. So when others were sceptical about my interest in using poetry as data and as a learning tool, I was steadfast in my belief.  It was this determination that was the catalyst for writing an article for the Special Issue on Arts-based research for Qualitative Research in Psychology entitled: Reflections of a black woman practitioner-researcher’.

I have recently used poetry in my autoethnographic lectures, in a Peace (w)Rite Poetry corner for my colleagues, to support the department’s wellbeing drive during the COVID-19 lockdown, and on my YouTube channel, to help people understand the complexity of intersectional identities and how they influence the way we, as in everyone, interacts with the world and how we are perceived by others.

To see my poetry in print in my second book is amazing.  To be a testament that there is purpose in pain, especially at a time when my reputation continues to be attacked by a group of senior white women, because I dared to make black women visible in prison occupational literature, by contributing to theory and knowledge, while simultaneously being awarded a Doctorate, is like ice cold water being splashed in my face. For a moment I’m startled, like the excitement I’m feeling right now, but the reality as the effects of the cold water subsides, is that my journey continues and along with fulfilling my purpose, which at the beginning was to make black women visible in prison occupational literature. I can say my first book has accomplished this.  My purpose now however, is to inspire and empower others who may be feeling excluded, invisible, silenced and othered that these feelings are temporary, and with determination, focus and self-belief, you can achieve your goals in your career, in academia and your personal life. Just believe in your self-worth. #justicepeacepoetry

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