EVERYBODY LIED ON ME
a poem by Kola Boof
Walking up the icy concrete
You see the snow on the fences
On your face so young…
The cleanest blue ever-clear/all outdoors
Dough Roller says:
You tell the truth
and yet telling the truth doesn't set you free.
It makes you sick.
In fact the more you tell it, the sicker you git.
Paper boy throws.
Computers done wrote a newspaper.
Paper boy throws. Somebody's power.
To publish a newspaper.
There are all kinds of truths and all
kind of tellers.
The truth can get you killed.
Rolling Pin/Dough Hands:
There are all kinds of lies and all
kinds of listeners.
Sometimes lies ring true.
It takes truth to make up a good lie.
There are all manner of bikes and
all kinds of paper boys.
All kinds of brain waves for all kinds of channels.
It's your dream…this beautiful truth.
You are walking up the icy concrete.
You see the Snow on the fences.
You feel the earth move beneath your icy feet.
Whispers tickle like hair in your nose.
Don't plant your garden in the Snow.
this page is my space to express my sadness over the constant disrespect that has been dealt me as an artist in America...having people deny that I exist, having them deny that my life is real. Being constantly lied on and hearing outrageous stories made up about myself.
Mentally, that has been the hardest thing to endure. I find that I am often portrayed as "crazy"--yet no one ever acknowledges the hostility,racism and delusions that are routinely aimed at me...as well as the hatred for Black women (by Blacks) that is routinely aimed at me...and all mainly because...I am an African woman who knows who she is and thinks highly of herself. I place value on myself and other black women and blackness itself in a way that the American press, government and even Black Americans...don't appreciate.
So it's devastating when people (and they've never met me)...but it's hurtful when these strange distant people claim that I don't really exist, that my experiences in life are merely 'publicity' and never happened...or that the chilling depth that permeates my work is just imaginative talent and not lived. You can't "fake" being Kola Boof.
Not counting family members...these are the 12 female Artists who most shaped me into what I have become.
1. Alice Walker
Over time, the one who influenced me the most was Alice
Walker--because when you finish reading one of her books, the
essential message is: "Everyone must be loved." And she is
PAGAN. Much of her ideology about womanism is what I had witnessed
as a young child in Sudan with the so called "native river" women
--our goddess Buk; our "sensuality" in Nilotic culture as opposed
to the Christian/Islamic idea that sex is dirty and woman impure.
It's because of reading Alice Walker, Toni Morrison and Gloria
Naylor's "NOVELS, short stories"---that I didn't become a Drug
Addict or Prostitute. I embraced my identity and determined to
make something out of myself. Alice Walker created the term
"WOMANIST"...and because of her, I call myself that as well.
She was just outrageously FIERCE and BRAVE...and usually right.
She is also elegant, tender and beautiful while being fierce and
brave...so you see, there was so much to her.
2. Nawal el Sadaawi (Egypt)
Growing up in America, adopted by Black Americans, I was exposed
to almost no African heroines. Nawal is not Black...but like me, she
is Arab Egyptian and was born Muslim on the Nile River. This is why
reading her book "The Hidden Face of Eve" changed my life and really
forced me to be honest about my own people, my own tribes, my
own hardships with being "Vaginally Infibulated" and all the trauma
that comes "for life" with that. I was greatly shaped by her work--
but also "reminded" of who I was as an African woman. I saw that
an African woman could tell the truth (and let's not forget that Nawal
was imprisoned by the Egyptians for the books she wrote)...I wanted
to be an OUTLAW like she was.
3. TONI MORRISON
To me, Toni Morrison is the greatest living American writer there is
on earth. The reading of my Bible got neglected, because I was so
intensely connected to the stories and fables in Toni Morrison's books.
She is better than anybody when it comes to trying to tell a story
not "honestly"...but "truthfully." There's a difference. When I read
her book "The Bluest Eye" at 14 (the 2nd book I had ever read in
my life...Jacqueline Sussan's "Valley of the Dolls" being the first
book I ever read). When I read "The Bluest Eye"---it was literally
the first time that I had ever heard somebody tell the truth in America.
The book shocked, awakened and demanded...demanded that I
become a Writer just so that I could "write back" to this book.
Reading it was like reading letters from someone in Hell...so you
had to write back!
Even more than "blacker-skinned" authors like Gloria Naylor and
Maya Angelou...I felt that Toni Morrison's books evoked "Africanist"
storytelling; African aesthetics of thinking and expressing. She is
to my mind, the foremost "African-sounding" of all the Black American
novelists and poets.
4. ANGELA DAVIS
Angela Davis was a cultural icon and a great hero to the Women
in my Black American family. I didn't really know much about her
when I was a kid...but I loved her PICTURE...the huge Afro, the
Fist in the air. That was my first adoration of her. But then when
I got older and read her actual books--she made realize more than
my Other mother, Gloria Steinem--that it's important for Women,
all women, to embrace Feminism/Womanism. Her books are very
deft at making you see from a Study/Sociological/Anthropological
view why it's downright idiotic for any woman not to embrace and
take Feminism/Womanism just as seriously as we take religion.
Angela Davis's work made me ALWAYS say out loud that I am a
**Adding on to what Angela Davis has written, in my opinion, is
the work of Rebecca Walker (daughter of Alice Walker). Rebecca
is also a gifted writer and activist like her mom--but Rebecca has
been recording/hypothesizing a certain "Third Wave Feminist"
...proposition?...that I find myself in great agreement with. I
just want to mention her work, because I think Feminism needs
to EVOLVE and that Rebecca Walker is one of the few whose
not afraid to go in that direction...while still being as clinical and
inclusive as Angela Davis was. Their work reminds me of each other.
Rebecca also doesn't seem to be as "sexually traumatized" as I am
(or as sexually volatile), so in the area of "Now Child" feminist ideology
(male and female), I prefer her voice to mine--only because, it's less shakey.
5. GLORIA STEINEM
The Mother of the Feminist Movement...like, before I was born! And
the author of many books that brought me many gifts. One of which
was the gift of critical thinking and the importance of first analyzing
and representing...one's self. Her work is mesmerizing and nutritious
far beyond the pale of just "feminist thinking"---I think it should be
required that ALL HUMAN BEINGS read at least one book by Gloria
Steinem. I think that if Alice Walker had been White--she would have
been Gloria Steinem, flaws and all. And much of my love for Gloria
is linked to my love for Alice (whose work introduced me to Gloria).
She is a "mother" of Kola Boof, yes, definitely.
6.Frida Khalo (Mexico)
This woman was a painter. Her story is remarkably unusual, just like
mine. It was through "card pictures" of her famous paintings that she
became a major influence/shaper on me. There is a beauty-UGLY
truthfulness to her art, and that's how I feel inside. It's like the old
Silent Films that I love watching...that's how Frida Khalo's paintings
affect me. I feel sincerity, I feel inspired...her work makes me perk
up and want to do my own work. She was very depressing, but so
beautiful and bravely honest, that you just can't deny her genius.
She had to have been a Goddess!
It was while looking at "Card Pictures" of Frida's famous paintings
that I made the decision to start my own religion..."The Womb."
I have Frida's imagery to thank for absolving my fear of being in
the river, praying by myself.
7. DIANA ROSS
This is going to be deep.
As a child, unable to speak English in America--it was very wonderful
that during my Psychiatric Care, my doctor introduced me to Silent
Films of mid 1900's to circa 1929. In these Lily White dream capsules
of gothic beauty and thumb-hard drama...were images of WOMEN
presented in what I would call "a stolen Motif" of the Nilotic-African
tradition of Queens and Candaces....in other words...they, to my
Sudanese eyes, were stealing our POMP & CIRCUMSTANCE, Our
Glamour and using it to craft a new image...the White Woman
I fell in love with Greta Garbo, Clara Bow, Theda Bara, Pola Negri,
Lillian Gish, Betty Boop, Vilma Banky....I idolized and "internalized"
these MOTHER IMAGES that were Imitations of my mother back home;
the glamourous African ceremonies with Sickle Fire & Naked Black
At about this same time in my development (ages 11, 12, 13)...at
this same time...there was a MODERN VERSION of that type of larger
than life African Ceremonial GLAM...and that living modern image was
in the form of a world famous singing superstar named DIANA ROSS.
I became so enthralled ages 11-16 with Diana Ross. I had every single
record...I knew everything about her...but MOST OF ALL...I had the
"pictures". The images of DECADENCE and sensuality and with her
Deep Dark Brown Complexion (at least back then) and her magnetically
explosive CUNNING & Determination...ability to Interpret & Manipulate
---with all that, I truly identified with her. To me, she was more African
than Roberta Flack, Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole...in that Diana was
determined to be "ALL RULING GODDESS", not just Mother Africa. And
that is me, too. Diana was Nilotic acting, more like an East African
woman in my mind. Larger than life, vain, powerful...but more than
anything...extremely emotional and LOVING.
I didn't like her choices in men, though now at 40, I understand. And
I feel that she was a SELL-OUT in several ways, though now at 40, I also
understand that. But at the same time, I can't deny that Miss Diana Ross
put real true Glamour (the love and spiritual spiritual appreciation of GLAM) inside me. Her voice was like Velvet--as though God and Caterpillars had
been fucking the night before and Diana's voice was the result. To this
day, her singing is among my very favorite...right up there with Bessie
Smith, Aretha, Streisand, Al Green, Fela, Burning Spear, Marley...Diana
Ross was absolutely magical and incredibly underrated and under-appreciated by Black Americans. She was one of the BEST singers there was in her day. She was. That was a BAD bitch!
I am a "literary writer and poet"...but I try to infuse some measure of
glamour, ceremony and sensuality into my work...because of Diana Ross.
She is a mother of Kola Boof.