Olivia Obineme

Chicago’s second-ever Youth Poet Laureate is artist and activist Patricia Frazier. Frazier grew up in the Ida B. Wells Homes in Bronzeville and later in Englewood, and has been writing poetry since elementary school. She was a two-time finalist at the Louder Than A Bomb spoken word competition while a student at Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep. In her poems, she says, she is “trying to disrupt mainstream narratives as often as I can, and also trying to make space for everyone’s narrative, and trying to make space for detail and specificity. A broad narrative is okay, but a narrative that has no holes, that does not tell a single story, is the most important to me.” She’s now publishing a collection of poems with Haymarket Books, which will be out next summer; in the meantime, you can follow her on Twitter @hakunamattities.

Listen to the Weekly’s full interview with Frazier on SSW Radio. This originally aired on November 14, 2017 on WHPK:

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Funeral Scene Where it isn’t Raining (a retelling)
After Eve Ewing

She died on a hot september night. Her spirit rose from her body like a bird fleeing a falling tree, transcending the green and yellow bathroom walls. She flew over the empty plain we used to call home, moonwalked across the McCormick place bridge, and into the uber on 22nd street, where her granddaughter received the news. Her granddaughter hung up the phone and fell into the arms of the car door, weeping into a cup holder. The sun fell with her granddaughter’s breath, the driver redirected the route. The car rises off the ground, the driver pulls the gear shift one notch past L. The car tilts upward, the engine smoking like the head of a cigarette. The car spins the granddaughter’s brain back in time. Gyrating as though driving through a vaguely familiar giggle. It is 1998 and she died years before of old age. The granddaughter exits the vehicle and the doctor shouts “It’s a girl!” and it is a selfish new world. The granddaughter cries as Jay-Z raps a Hard Knock Life, but the granddaughter will never know.

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A Black Girl’s Attempt At Escaping Gentrification

1. To cajole or coax

1. an area of land, smaller than a forest, that is covered with growing trees.

Land of finesse
Land of growing
giving birth

Black belt      in redlining
Urban planned and dictionary decoded
Noun      most ghetto neighborhood in all of Chicago

Englewood the bloody name
nobody wants to have,
but everybody wants to hold.

I heard folks made me a token for black death
Made a sacrilege of me before even stepping foot on my soil
I heard white kids been beat boxing my name in their poems
An imperialism jukebox produced by Fox News
They made a SoundCloud chopped and screwed
diss track of my body for street cred

A white girl called me a war zone but ate my name
in the trenches of her teeth            anglewood
Guess nobody told her my curves too obtuse to fit
comfortably between her lips My name is Something earned

a plus sized pilgrimage only bucket boys know A covenant
of closed schools and colored girls clawing their way out of me
My name is screaming a pleading no while Rahm does
what Daley did to my sister Hyde Park Another gentrified black girl
gone      but us black girls don’t be getting no amber alerts.

Tried to do the same to me once Bombed the first black family
to make a home in my skin Gave up when there became more black
people than bombs to throw Realized how to colorbomb
through the tv screen call it modern warfare technology
Why you think the anti-englewood rhetoric percolates
its way through Chicago bodies A blood clot
of blackonblack crime When northside neighborhoods
get to call their violence inter-communal The whip of white savior
wordplay The lash is the lasting effect you won’t see coming
until the Whole Foods is a town made for holes
Grave plots for those who couldn’t be whited out
and abandoned buildings turned into condos
They’ve discovered me Immortal black woman
They’re trying to make an organ trade
Send me to the sunken place

I pray y’all make my name a good poem
A liquor store lacquer A flash mob crip walk on Garfield
I pray somebody writes an ode to englewood
Turn my name into a city of God in gold
A black hole of black girl resurrection

Y’all rather my name The tree that is soiling
the rest of the forest Cut down hill to a landfill
where white privilege plays Rahm the builder
with the bloody syllables of my limbs
and nobody ask me for consent
before taking my name to make Chicago
whatever they need it to be

I raised a girl that wrote poems
Heard she say my name real well
Call me a non-perishable
If you’ve ever called me anything else
you shouldn’t be writing poems about Englewood

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