Dey

Winner of the 2021 DISQUIET Prize for Poetry

By STEPHANIE DINSAE

 

The pidgin form of ‘to be’1 

A young child, I was privy to hearing this word
in my household, around my uncle and his friends 
reminiscent of his schoolboy youth.
A part of a pidgin I could never participate in
for fear that the broken English might
have too much of an essence, might
tarnish my own English.
They would not let me code switch
thinking the pidgin would overtake me

Dey

           ‘To be’ 
At 21 I discovered that the word
had traveled farther than I had
finding its way into the mouths
of diasporic Caribbeans, unchanged
meaning untouched
and maybe that’s why they never let me
use it because they knew of its
lasting power, knew how a mouth could
store it in its crevice for generations
knew how a word could be a tool for survival
maybe they did not want me to know
what the brokenness really meant

  

  

Stephanie Dinsae is a poet and Black classicist from the Bronx. She is a recent Smith College graduate and recently finished the last year of her poetry MFA program at Columbia University. Stephanie is dedicated to exploring the intersections of Greco-Roman mythology and Blackness through her poetry. Her favorite things to do are dance around to music and obsess over astrology. In case you were wondering, Steph has major Libra, Scorpio, and Sagittarius placements.

[Purchase Issue 22 here.]


Footnotes

1https://www.britishcouncil.org/voices-magazine/nigerian-pidgin-words-phrases

Dey

Related Posts

Image of a sunflower head

Translation: to and back

HALYNA KRUK
hand-picked grains they are, without any defect, / as once we were, poised, full of love // in the face of death, I am saying to you: / love me as if there will never be enough light / for us to find each other in this world // love me as long as we believe / that death turns a blind eye to us.

many empty bottles

June 2024 Poetry Feature: New Poems by Our Contributors

KATE GASKIN
We were at a long table, candles flickering in the breeze, / outside on the deck that overlooks the bay, which was black / and tinseled where moonlight fell on the wrinkled silk / of reflected stars shivering with the water.

Messy desk in an office

May 2024 Poetry Feature: Pissed-Off Ars Poetica Sonnet Crown

REBECCA FOUST
Fuck you, if I want to put a bomb in my poem / I’ll put a bomb there, & in the first line. / Granted, I might want a nice reverse neutron bomb / that kills only buildings while sparing our genome / but—unglue the whole status-quo thing, / the canon can-or-can’t do?