Titilope Sonuga is a Nigerian-Canadian writer, poet, playwright and performer whose work grasps for moments of tenderness and persistent joy at the intersection of blackness and womanhood. She is the author of three award-winning collections of poetry, Down to Earth (2011), Abscess (2014), and This Is How We Disappear (2019) and has composed and released two spoken word albums, Mother Tongue (2011) and Swim (2019). Titilope has written three plays, The Six; an intergenerational exploration of womanhood, Naked; a one-woman play and Ada The Country, a musical. She has scripted global advertising campaigns for brands including; The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Google, Intel Corporation, Guaranty Trust Bank and The MacArthur Foundation. She was an actor on the hit television series Gidi Up, which aired across Africa. Her writing has been translated into Italian, German and Slovak. She is the 9th Poet Laureate of the City of Edmonton.
I read lots of poetry in high school. Because of the kind of poetry we read, I thought that all poetry was inaccessible, difficult to decode, a language far out of my reach, until I encountered Ntozake Shange's For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf. It is a poem/play/epic that broke my world wide open and I fell in love with writing in a way that changed my life.
I have always written. Songs, stories, poems. My earliest memory of storytelling is as a young girl, maybe 8 years old. I didn't begin to consider myself a poet until years later, the first time I read something I had written out loud and saw and felt the way it was responded to. I was 20.
A poet's job is to give meaning to the world. To reflect the times. To remind us how we lived and loved. To make room for pain and suffering but also for hope and healing.
"I Am" is one of the first poems I wrote and read out loud. It is a poem that was born out of a desire to affirm the things I knew to be true about myself, in a world that tried to tell me otherwise. It is a celebration.