Writer Of The Week: nayyirah waheed
Start writing a post

Writer Of The Week: nayyirah waheed

This week I discuss one of my favorite poets, the enigmatic nayyirah waheed.

Writer Of The Week: nayyirah waheed

Every fifth week I talk about my favorite writers. These are the wordsmiths that have instilled the love of literature in me, nurtured my intellect, kept me sane and whole, and the entire spectrum of feels in between.

nayyirah waheed is a bit of an enigma. When I first discovered her poetry (stumbled upon on Instagram, yay stalking), I spent a solid hour scouring the Internet for anything else I could find. And while her poetry abounds in the Tumblr streets and can be found in other strategic places if you know what to search for, I couldn’t find a single picture of her, nor any particularly personal interviews. That was in 2014. To this day, still, I’ve never, ever seen a picture of her. This is part of her allure. Where most artists rely heavily on their social media accounts to market themselves and promote their brand, waheed very literally lets the work speak for itself. Her Instagram and Tumblr pages are mostly full of pictures of her poetry, as well as pictures of other people who have used her poetry in their captions, or odes to her own favourite artists and inspirations.

The veil of secrecy is fitting given her sparse, minimalist approach to literature. waheed fans know her and love her for her deliciously frugal use of words and unusual employment of punctuation. She somewhat pioneered and popularized this style of writing, and other writers since have either drawn inspiration from it or just jocked her swag completely. Using only full stops (or periods as ye Americans call them) and non-capitalized letters, she creates entire universes in very small spaces and leaves you breathless while doing it.

the ocean
can calm itself
so can you.
are both
salt water

- meditation

She has previously expressed that she writes in this way - choppy, sharp, unforgiving - because the English language cannot accurately convey all the emotions she is trying to have the poem hold. The language, she says, was not created for us - us being black people. In an https://ezibota.com/nayyirah-waheed/ interview with Ezibota, responding to critics who say her work is not poetry because it doesn’t align with the standards of Shakespeare and Robert Frost and the like, she says: “What is their sound… their mouths to our words, our emotions, expressions, or experiences? We don’t need validation. I actually want their hands off our work. Our work is a different universe, a requiring of a different set of senses. That which they do not fully understand, is meant for them not to understand, as it is not theirs.” What she does with the English language, therefore, is manipulate it. She breaks it down to its smallest pieces, and tries to let individual letters and words tell their own stories.

waheed currently has two bodies of work out: salt. and nejma, which can both be purchased on Amazon. Very different, but sharing the ability to stir up emotions in very few words, they are both worthy pieces of literature to explore. I would definitely recommend them both to anyone who loves the way literature can make you feel nameless feels.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Student Life

9 Things Tall People Are Tired Of Hearing

Yep. The weather is fine up here... I've totally never heard that before.


Don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE being tall. Sometimes I even wish I was taller. One of the downsides of being tall however, is having to put up with ridiculous questions and statements. I can assure that all tall people are tired of being asked what the weather is like "up here", but here are a few other things we don't want to hear anymore.

Keep Reading... Show less

We truly love it here in the Badger State. Here are a few things Wisconsinites can relate to.

Keep Reading... Show less

Five Types Of People In Fall

From yummy pumpkin spice lattes to scary movies, fall has it all and then some.

Destination Logan County Illinois

Oh fall, the most marvelous time of year...right? Every approaches fall differently, some pumpkin spice-tastically and some not so enthusiastically. We can't all be Autumn lovers, so here are five types of people in fall. Grab a cup of hot coca, sit back, and enjoy.

Keep Reading... Show less

If you're like me, by this time of year you're over summer. The beach, the sunshine, and the heat were all great, but now we're itching for blanket scarves, football, and pumpkin spice EVERYTHING! As the new season approaches, your relationship can benefit from some old traditional dates and some new fresh ideas! Here are a couple great date ideas for you and your boo to try out this fall.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

Social Media Or Soul Media

To the generation that cares way too much about affirmation.

Emma Smith
  • This semester I am taking the ever so famous class, Writing 101. Walking into it, I had heard the horror stories about each major assignment. I have to admit, it’s not a class that I am fond of. But, major assignment #2 got me thinking, we had to create a research question based off of a topic that we are interested in.

Two weeks prior, I watched a very interesting documentary on Netflix. Miss Representation was recommended to me by one of my friends and I have to say the topic is absolutely mind blowing. Social Media and Female Body Image. How Social Media makes girls see this unnatural perfection of ‘beauty’ that really doesn’t exist. But female body image isn’t the only thing affected by social media.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments