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Words for the People: The power of the pause

Kriech-Hogdon Photography

This episode begins with Kentucky Poet Laureate Crystal Wilkinson and guest author Hannah Drake sharing a powerful conversation about their journeys with resilience. They discuss the perpetuation of the “strong Black woman” stereotype that has included the burden of taking care of families, working for social justice in communities, and laboring to fix a broken country.

This has come at a cost.

“We’re tired of being resilient all the time,” explains Hannah as she speaks to the necessity of taking care of oneself and not just others. For the sake of health and sanity, we all need to learn to sit with silence, although it may be uncomfortable. In fact, there is no growth, healing, or truth telling without this space to listen. 

They share the simple advice, “go lay down.” And they shout The Nap Ministry, which declares “rest is resistance.” Crystal and Hannah also share the importance of actively creating a space that renews you, be it a garden, a prayer room, or just a place to take off your cape for a while.

In these acts of radical self-care, they find that endurance and liberation are possible. Hannah also shares her extraordinary poem, “Fix It Black Girl,” and explains why she speaks and writes about this topic. “I really want black women to be free.”

Crystal then considers what a resilient life looks like with emerging Affrilachian poet Danni Quintos. Danni admits she processes a lot through her writing, although it may not go out into the world. 

“If it’s something that helps you heal, then it’s doing its job,” Danni reminds us.

When it comes to the constant hustle writers face to publish, she believes we must give ourselves “the grace to not be productive.”

Danni, who met Crystal almost 20 years ago through the Governor’s School for the Arts, also speaks of the restorative nature of her literary community and the Kentucky writers of color who encouraged her to write about the things she came from.

During the conversation, she shares poems “Self-Portrait as Manananggal” and “Ode To Country Dips” from her award-winning book Two Brown Dots.

Also on this episode, listener Leigh Claire Schmidli reads her poem, "Whale Bones." To share your own work with "Words for the People," visit our submission page.

Sally co-produces the podcast "Words for the People." Email Sally as sevans@lpm.org.

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