"Had my parents not been separated after my father's traffic stop, arrest, and deportation from the United States of America / we might all be sitting about the pink kitchen table with the white legs."
“Afrofuturism has granted me the space to insert my magic, more joy, more imagination into the stories I tell. I’ve also used it to latch on to painting the horror/sci-fi realities of living life in a marginalized body. There is freedom in that. If I could classify, I’d say that’s where this poetry collection exists, it's a dystopic Afrofuturistic poetry collection. Who would have thought?”
The vertical bar symbols give the poem a different feel than a typical end stop. The piece is in five verses with significant space in between each verse. So looking at the poem visually, the large spaces also seem symbolic to the space in between her and her brother.
Another poem titled “Notorious” opens with how someone compared her to Biggie Smalls when she finished a performance: “After I read, the boy with the long, blonde, shaggy ponytail says, ‘your set was great, like, don’t be offended when I say this but, you remind me of biggie smalls’.” In the poem, she quotes some of the rapper’s songs while reflecting on the comment, giving an intertextual element. She quotes the songs “One More Chance,” “Big Poppa,” and “Juicy,” by Biggie, very briefly, while also adding her own unique spin in the mix:
“it’s a wonder | how we heave | and heave | and weave | and stand | behind a mic at all | we all | black and ugly as ever | however we spell well | B | I | G | all rhyme and good time | we both love it when you drive by | and call us | big | poppa | ain’t you ever been popped off | been shot at | been blown up like the world trade | don’t you like your meat center medium | brown skin rift | red nectar running off the curb of the plate”
The use of intertextuality along with the vertical bar symbol adds a different sort of feel to the piece, unlike the vertical bar symbols used in “My Brother Ghost Writes This Poem” which feels more confined. Instead, “Notorious” feels empowering, seemingly indicating that the poet has lyrical bars too. Additionally, the imagery in the lines: “don’t you like your meat center medium | brown skin rift | red nectar running off the curb of the plate” is very interesting, and the vertical bar symbols almost seem to sharpen those lines even more.
Olayiwola’s poems are raw and real. The unique form and strong imagery makes them even more powerful and memorable. Another poem “Ursula :: Hotel Poolside” uses two colons to break lines. The poem depicts a poolside vacation scene. The two colons ( :: ) together are definitely a unique choice. Four dots and a lot of open space is the visual readers get. I think the two colons together represent a feeling of exposure—and not necessarily in a bad way, but in the sense that one typically feels either comfortable or uncomfortable with themselves while wearing pool attire, and that open space represents the openness involved with being at a public pool.
The last two poems circle back to the beginning, giving the feeling of a really effective full circle ending. Overall the collection is an ode to loving and accepting yourself as you are. Through all the labels, judgments, and confinements, we all shimmer sometimes; that’s what keeps us going.