The main medium used by poetry this year has been… you guessed it! Music. This have been an amazing year for the music industry and there is still much to come. I’m going to focus on the work of one woman who is “back by popular demand”: Beyonce. It is kind of confusing that Americans dropped tea on the ocean to get rid of the monarchy only to claim Beyonce as their queen now, but it is kind of understandable as well.
Beyonce released her new album, Lemonade, on April 23, 2016 – you can listen to the whole album on her web. You may or may not like her music style, but there are some things that cannot be dennied included, per example, the outstanding reception it has had. And this is because, regardless of the music (which for some is marvelous at least), this album is probably the most relevant work on poetry made during and for this year. It’s hard to explain it completely, so I’ll do a quick review.
First, this album is co-written by Warsan Shire, a 27 years old poet born in Kenya and raised in London. She is one of the few Young Poet Laureate and she is recognized on the album as one of the main contributors, above producers and such. If this is not the clearest example on why we can call some music lyrics poetry… If you would like to know more about her, here’s Shire reading one of her poems, For Women Who Are Difficult To Love:
Moving on, the second reason I think this poetry work is so compelling is that it has a strong social component. Beyonce is not just singing some catchy pop song (which lots of people, including me, enjoy); she is talking about the deep feelings of an individual, the process of recovery from what it seems to be an infidelity from her husband but that could be as well the process of accepting her own self on the society we live in. This has been said multiple times, but it might not be stressed enough: in this album, Beyonce is unapologetically a woman, and unapologetically black. She reclaims the whole of her blackness and feminity, tearing down to pieces whatever hurts her about the way society understands them and rising powerfully like a phoenix from the ashes. She is an amazing black woman and a wonderful human being, and she knows it. This album is even a call for action not only for social movements like the Black Lives Matter, but for black women to recognize their value because they are black and because they are women. Beyonce has done an amazing activist work here and specially relevant nowadays.
To finish this post, I would like to show you a quite-on-point sketch by SNL that shows an approximate but not entirely exact representation on the impact of Formation, the first single released from the album: