Our Spotlight series introduces you to the people behind Perennial Press. In our sixth post, we hear from Zubaida Bello, author of chapbook How to Stop the Burning. Zubaida Bello uses her poetry as an outlet for trauma, a form of activism, and to reimagine the world that she has inherited. She talks to us about her current reads, and two poets that inspire her.
What book are you reading right now? Why? / How did you find it?
I am currently reading Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. I’ve only read queer theory and I wanted to dive into some queer joy and storytelling, which Bechdel does very well. I found it through one of my teachers.
Who is someone who never ceases to inspire you?
Roya Marsh is my mentor and slam coach. She’s been with me through thick and thin. I love her and I love her work even more!
Do you prefer reading poetry or hearing it performed?
I think performance poetry opens up a new space for literature and adds more weight to one’s words. It can definitely be a very freeing experience.
Gift us with your favorite poem, or a poem you think is perfect.
the lost baby poem by Lucille Clifton. I chose this poem because it’s so simple and short, but very sorrowful and somber at the same time. Carrying such a complex tone throughout a whole poem is a skill that doesn’t get enough praise. I love this poem!!!
the time i dropped your almost body down
down to meet the waters under the city
and run one with the sewage to the sea
what did i know about waters rushing back
what did i know about drowning
or being drowned
you would have been born into winter
in the year of the disconnected gas
and no car we would have made the thin
walk over genesee hill into the canada wind
to watch you slip like ice into strangers’ hands
you would have fallen naked as snow into winter
if you were here i could tell you these
and some other things
if i am ever less than a mountain
for your definite brothers and sisters
let the rivers pour over my head
let the sea take me for a spiller
of seas let black men call me stranger
always for your never named sake
Keep up with Zubaida’s poetry on instagram, @zubaida_thepoet.