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My Body, My Tomb

Updated: Apr 14

September 2021

*published in Mouth Magazine in 2021.

*my body, my tomb performed (2023, Chicago, IL) video by liberty harris


my body, my tomb is a concrete poem and spoken word piece. It was inspired by Common’s song “Fallin’”. The song describes this lust America has for black culture that they have hidden beneath layers of hate, because admitting that black people are needed for this country to thrive would be to admit that for centuries white people have taken black labor for granted. Having constantly been one of the few people of color in white spaces, it felt like this lust White American thinly veiled under a guise of disgust was slowly killing me. I was being crushed under the weight of being a black person at a PWI (Predominantly White Institution) that forced me to keep up this facade of neutrality and black excellence so I wouldn’t make my white peers uncomfortable. I was tired of having that feeling of inadequacy bearing down on me while news cycle after news cycle showed black bodies being policed and harmed.

It was originally created to be a spoken word piece but, when prompted to write a concrete poem, it became something more. This concrete poetry form adds an amount of depth that would not be achieved with just the spoken performance. I wanted to create an embodiment of that slow death Black Americans experience every day. The shape of the European coffin encasing the words represents this assimilation African Americans have been demonstrating for generations. It’s a death to our blackness in a continuous fashion. Some words and phrases being bigger than others mirror the ebb and flow of generational anger and captures the essence of those boiling points.

While it can still be read as a spoken piece, the written form creates a more visually provoking narrative that cannot be expressed from words alone.


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