Asha Nicole Named Winner of Poetic Justice Slam Competition

Staff Writer: Eric Canosa
10 Apr. 2017

The English Department recently sponsored a student-organized slam competition attended by some of Emory's best student poets. The "Poetic Justice" slam was an exciting artistic bout filled with powerful poems tackling a variety of important subjects. Loose Canons would like to warmly congratulate Asha Nicole Fradkin for winning the slam competition with several rounds of excellent poetry.

Included below is one of her winning poems from the slam. Enjoy!

--- To Whom It May Concern ---

Asha Nicole Fradkin

This is not a poem about rage, although of those, I have many, and still more about which to be enraged, and maybe some other time, I'd be happy to oblige the reading of a poem of that sort.

No, this is a poem about building sand castles in the ruins of your city, about creating mosaics from glass shards that once framed the view from your bedroom. This is a poem about living in first-world war zones, though we tend to call them by softer, more palatable names, like urban communities, like the inner-city, like the hood, like el barrio, like home.

This is not a poem about the bones we find in the rubble, not the used needles, nor the used condoms, nor the garbage nor debris, though maybe someone should write a poem about that, if they haven't already.

This is a poem about happy, about children running and jumping and playing and singing and falling down and scraping their knees and not crying.

Because this is not a poem about pain. No one bleeds in this poem, though many have died, or at least been injured severely in order for it to have been created.

This is a poem about nearly reaching the point of no return and turning back miraculously, saving oneself from eternal damnation.

But this is not a poem about temptation, nor lust, nor sin, nor sloth, nor greed, nor hunger, nor liberation.

This is a poem about turning to the dark face in the mirror and smiling. This is a poem for my siblings, my cousins, my mother, my brothers, but not my brothers, who have been told every day of their lives of their beauty, and who have been treated in accordance with this belief, and who, by no fault of their own, have come to believe themselves as indeed beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, if not anything else.

This is not a poem for you, you blue-eyed, green-eyed, grey-eyed, hazel-eyed, light-skinneded, "good haired", because you already know, and have been shown and been fortunate to stand and face your own beauty in the mirror.

This is a poem for my nappy-headed, kinky, thick, unruly, peasy-kitchened sisters; my tar-black, night-black, dirt-black, mud-black, mahogany, ebony, earth-toned beauties. This is for thick-lipped, wide-hipped, wide-nosed, thunder-thighed, back-rolled, thick-waisted brown-eyed muses.

This is a poem about house music from Chi-town, not Chiraq; about Jersey club and Hiphop and salsa, and jazz.

But this is not a poem about gentrification, though it could easily be. This is a poem neither for, nor about, white people, nor their casseroles, nor their suburbs, nor their falsified histories.

This is a poem for me, for the tragic mulatto, for the second sex, for the closeted, for the misgendered, for the darker brother, for the invisible man.

You do not have to hit me to be seen. You do not have to scream, though you should feel free to do so if you are so inclined.

This is a poem about the divine; about seeing dark-dark, blue-black, deep purple, rich, bold, bronze, red skin, men loving men, women loving women, people loving people loving people, loving people, as holy, as purity, as innocence, as sacred.

This is not a poem about hatred, because I have never written any such poetry.

This is a poem about love, Black love with a capital B. Bright, robust, flavorful, fragrant love.

But this is not a poem about sex, though perhaps it should be about rhythmic, harmonious, earth-shaking, bone-quaking, soul-taking, headboard-breaking, thighs quivering, toes curling, body spasming in orgasm. But nah, we already have too many poems like those.

This is, instead, a poem for ratchet hoes, ghetto girls, hood niggas in hoodies and ACGs and Timbs and Trues and full North Face suits. This is a poem about quick weaves, lace-front wigs, 5-inch nails, 9-inch heels, beauty supply store jewelry and fluorescent lipstick, that is to say, the culture. This is for the ones who ain't never had shit, ain't never gon be shit, ain't never gon do shit, ain't never seen shit, yet seen way too much, way too young, way too fast, fast-ass, smart-mouthed, bad attitude, hands clapping in emphasis and enthusiasm, mouths wide open, laughing, loud, musical, uninhibited.

This is a poem about suburban black kids who distance themselves from blackness and everything “bad” that comes with it, only to find later in life that it is the only beautiful thing these United States have ever had to offer, and to offer you of all people.

This is for mixed daughters of white mothers and black daughters of black mothers whose scalps were bloodied with chemical burns from perms and had to start over from scratch. This is about bleach in the bath, about fair-and-lovely, about band-aids and make-up that didn't match.

This is not a poem for white trash, though perhaps I will write one for you someday; about your agony, your scorn, your dignity stolen or maybe just rusted away after years of neglect. And I mean no disrespect when I say that, though you too have been burned and scarred, it has not been in the same way, and besides, you do not rise from the ashes as phoenix to the occasion.