Poetically Yours - Ep.14 - Poet Recollects The Discomfort Of Getting Her Hair Straightened

Nov 6, 2020

Welcome to WNIJ's Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours showcases northern Illinois poets. This week's poem is by Paige Monét Wright, a member of FourPoets, OneMic. 

Paige Monét Wright.
Credit Photo provided by Paige Monét Wright.

Wright was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia but moved to Illinois at the age of 14. She and her older sister were raised mainly by their mother.

Wright is a sophomore at Northern Illinois University studying biological sciences. She said she wants to be a pediatrician so that she can help children stay healthy and safe. 

Wright fell in love with writing in elementary school. In addition to poetry, she writes comic books and scripts with her cousin, which are later developed into stories. Wright is working towards publishing some of her original works. To help reach her goal, she joined the spoken word performance and poetry organization FourPoets, OneMic when she was a freshman.

Some of her other hobbies include cooking, listening music, reading, and spending time with close friends and family. Wright says she loves all of her hobbies and will continue to maintain a proper balance between them.

In her poem "Destruction," Wright tells the story of her father attempting to straighten her coils.

Destruction

Daddy’s hand soak through my cotton

web curls

His fingers curve inward, to try to eliminate

The smell of burning hair

My scalp cries out chemicals as I hunch

over the sink

I want mama but she’s home miles away

Daddy attempts to soothe the ache by

adding shampoo

But he just makes it worst

He doesn’t understand how to be gentle

Always tugging me back when I get too far

He doesn’t understand forcing my hair to

untangle only causes more damage

Graceless fingers snag the waves at my roots

Not knowing to start from the bottom like

mama

My back raises, the counter imprinting my spine

My gut drops and tears fill my ducts

I keep the sorrow hidden rinsing it down

the drain away from his wild eyes

His unspoken promise to protect me,

withers once my spirals straighten

And he leaves me lingering behind lost

and broken down

He’s ignorant to his role in ruining

everything he touches

Letting my skin scald, burn marks trace over me

Scarring over into something tough

enough to resist him

  • Yvonne Boose is a 2020 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.