Motherhood Literature + Art

Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie – Writing Around The Edges

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Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie


Writing Around the Edges

“I learned to write around the edges.” Wanda Coleman


I wake up every day at 4AM while the house is quiet. I write for three hours until the children wake up. I make them breakfast and take them to school. This is how I have written all of my books. (Bullshit.)

I had a third baby and I don’t write much poetry these days. I write in my journal often. I do readings. I just got a box of my new poetry book Strut. After a long delay my first children’s book is slated to come out next year. My poems have been published in a few anthologies and journals this year. (I am trying to convince you that I still exist.) In the almost three years since the baby’s birth, I have written maybe 40 poems and I wrote most of those during 30/30 this year.

There is a quiet space
So many voices crowd it out
If i can’t access that space
I can’t hear my thoughts
And if i can’t hear my thoughts
I cannot and do not

Waking up at 4 am would flatten me. I have never been an early riser. I used to stay up late to get writing and editing done. But I can’t stay up late, get up early to read to the toddler, cook the breakfast, take the 11-year-old to school and be human. (In other words, I have limits. I am not 22, I am 45 and I need sleep. I am a bitch without it, I can’t remember a damn thing and nothing is fun. Sleep deprivation is walking ‘round in a constant fog.)


Q. How do you do it all?

A. I don’t. There is a season for everything

Q. How do you balance it all?

A.I don’t. My goal is to be present with whatever I am doing at the moment.

I have been feeling like I want a foundation under me and my family. As freelancers our lives are chaotic. Our flight patterns erratic. Our lives overscheduled. Our bank account undernourished. At this point, I don’t find freelancing exciting. It is draining, anxiety provoking. I need some stability. Even if it is an illusion of stability. I need it.

My community of poets is and is a blessed space. I have seen poets throw rent parties after 30 years of putting in work. I have seen poets thrown out of their homes after 40 years of putting in work. I have seen cultural workers with dozens of books locked out by the ones keeping the gates.

(Do you know how tired I am?)

Poetry is not
A hustle     not never
A career     it is
A way

The way has given me just about everything. Even my family. I met my husband because of a message he’d written on a list serve for writers run by Baba Kalamu Ya Salaam.

I am considering new ways of working. New forms. New mediums. The process is and has always moved me more than product. More than visibility.

You will (not) find me (because you will not be looking) steeped in libraries and classrooms in an old port city where I can hear rebellions in the wind. I will access other tongues     myself     has not finished her walk yet

maybe halfway
or maybe I’ve just begun

Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie is the author of Strut (Agape Editions), Dear Continuum: Letters to a Poet Crafting Liberation (Grand Concourse Press) and Karma’s Footsteps. Her work is the subject of the film “I Leave My Colors Everywhere.” Ekere is the mother of three galaxies who look like daughters.


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