The latest content and news from the Barbican. Book tickets at barbican.org.uk
The latest content and news from the Barbican. Book tickets at barbican.org.uk

Subject to Change: ‘I’m Rooting For Everybody Black’ by Jeremiah ‘Sugar J.’ Brown

Throughout 2018, we’ll be celebrating The Art of Change by inviting 12 of our Young Poets to write and perform a poem that speaks to our changing world.

This month, Jeremiah ‘Sugar J.’ Brown shares his poem, ‘I’m Rooting For Everybody Black’, inspired by one of Tobi Kyeremateng’s tweets, ‘I’m rooting for everybody black’.


‘I’m Rooting For Everybody Black’1

always.

Mostly that means I don’t want the black character to get dead off first. My hope is a poke at the
swaying Jenga tower. It doesn’t always fall, sometimes the black character get dead off second.

I’m rooting for everybody black
always.

Mostly that means screaming when I see a black face. One you recognise is sweeter; a British one
is sweetest. Like the taste of my shout when I saw Michaela Coel on the USS Callister.

I’m rooting for everybody black
always.

It looks like he’s singing and dancing, but this brother’s taking enormous chances 2Kendrick
finishes. The audience rise to their feet applauding, white froth from every ocean gathered in
that room to clap.

Pastor came and preached the same sermon two years ago. Rockface hits water over and over
hoping at some point thy listen.

I’m rooting for everybody black
always.

Mostly that means paying to see Black Panther more than once. So much black on a Hollywood
screen, I must soak my eyes in it. I would drown in black like a satellite floating in space.

I am hoping against sense that Hollywood is the same. I am done seeing blackberries drowned in
milk.

I’m rooting for everybody black
always

1 During an interview on the red carpet at the 2017 Emmys, Issa Rae (award winning actor, writer, director, producer and web series creator) was asked who’d be rooting for that night. She responded, ‘I’m rooting for everybody black. I am. Betting on black tonight’.

2 As part of Kendrick Lamar’s 2018 Grammy performance, Dave Chappelle (legendary comedian and actor) made some timely comments about what the great artist was doing. During his second interruption he said, “Is this on cable, this CBS? ‘Cos it looks like he’s singing and dancing, but this brother’s taking enormous chances. Rumble, young man, rumble!”


What inspired your poem this month? 

I think black people are being lit again, as they do, from Michaela Coel and Letitia Wright in Black Mirror, to Inua Ellams and the cast of Barbershop Chronicles, to Anita Barton-Williams and the night Heaux Noire, to Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy performance, to everything Black Panther that’s been building up recently. I’ve got friends starting up flight clubs and taking their GP exams. So I’m sitting there with this brief to write about change thinking of these people, wanting everything that’s going on positively to grow and multiply and be a beginning.

As I’m thinking about all of this Tobi (@bobimono) tweets ‘I’m rooting for everybody black’ and I realise that’s the vibe I’m on, that’s everything I’m feeling and trying to write about, and that’s how I got the frame for this poem, that’s where the inspiration came from.

Sometimes I hear people talk and I see lines, stanzas, poems, so sometimes I listen in poetry now

Who do you think writes well on the topic of change?

I think of who writes the best pictures of what’s here, that often turns my mind to change more than something more explicitly so. Caleb Femi does that really well. I think of Ross Gay’s poem ‘A Small Needful Fact’ and there’s little else I’ve read that makes me want change more. I read that poem and it makes me want the past present and future to change.

Why do you think poetry is a good way to talk about change?

Poetry is a good medium to talk to express and to articulate. It’s a medium that allows for pure emotion and immediacy whilst at the same time being a medium of patience, clever thought and intricacies. I think change wants/needs/deserves to be spoken about/expressed/articulated along the whole of that spectrum. Change is passionately championing for a different future, but it’s also sitting down and calmly analysing the past. For me poetry is a medium that comfortably allows you to do both and everything in between.

How has poetry changed your life?

I write poetry now. I read poetry now. Sometimes I hear people talk and I see lines, stanzas, poems, so sometimes I listen in poetry now. Sometimes I see things and hear the images, so sometimes I see in poetry now too. I feel things I can’t fully understand or articulate and because of poetry I have somewhere to put them, I don’t have to carry them around with me. Poetry put me back on stages, which is a kind of home I thought I’d never get to go back to. Poetry has changed my life because it’s changed me, and how I engage with others, the world, myself and God. That’s how poetry has changed my life.

 

Subscribe to our YouTube channel for new videos each week: youtube.com/barbicancentre

Part of The Art of Change, our 2018 annual theme which explores how the arts respond to, reflect and potentially effect change in the social and political landscape.

 

One Comment

Makella

Reading this poem and significantly the section on “how has poetry changed [the author’s] life” was really quite beautiful. There’s something quite poignant about authors writing about current subtleties of life and the political/racial undertones and this is done ever so diligently in the poem. As a young writer myself it’s sometimes hard for me to find poets that I can relate to, especially in our currently climate which can make writing in itself a deeply isolating process; reading this was deeply refreshing. Thank you!

Comments are closed.