In this installment of Our Stories, poet Talsia Williams shares how writing poetry mends her broken heart….For many people, Jamaica is pictured as an island paradise – white sandy beaches, a beautiful and vivacious culture, rich and wholesome food, and attractive people. And while that image is not far from the truth, if the lens is focused on the inspirational stories of ordinary Jamaicans, you’d find a sharper, richer and truer image of the Jamaican experience…this is Our Stories!
Meet Talsia Williams
The evening of July 12, 2010 will always remain in her memory because that’s when she spent the final moments with one of her sisters.
Talsia recalls strolling home with her two sisters on Olympic Way in Kingston 11, with smiles and bashy hairstyles, right after visiting the hairdresser.
But fate decided a different destination for one of her sisters, Samantha Williams, who died hours after a car derailed its route, throwing all three girls off the sidewalk.
When I sat down with this soulful poet, she explained that writing poetry helped to heal her broken heart.
1. Oh no! Where did that car come from?
The car came from behind. We hardly had enough time to actually look around to see what was coming. It happened suddenly. It’s almost as if I fell asleep within minutes and I woke up to the cries of my little sister. When I looked up I didn’t actually see her, I just heard the crying. When I looked in the corner, I saw her fastened in a fence….my 4-year-old sister. I didn’t see my other sister. I was sorta in shock. I remember wondering if my feet were still intact, if my hands were working. I remember moving my feet.
2. At that moment, did you realise what happened?
I realised but it’s almost like I’m wondering,
‘What? Did this really just happen?’
I checked myself, I moved my feet, and I moved my arms. Then I crawled over to my little sister and I had her in my arms. She was bleeding all over. Her legs were broken. I didn’t know what to do. Persons from the community came to assist….I held on to her. I still couldn’t find my other sister. I was crying and looking for her. And then eventually, somebody put me on a taxi and I went to the Kingston Public Hospital.
3. So when did you see your other sister?
(When I was at the hospital) I saw them rush in with her. (Samantha) was practically naked because apparently the car stripped her, tore off most of her clothing. She died 2am the following morning.
4. Wow! Help me to understand how poetry helped you to heal.
I wrote a lot about my feelings, about my sister. I wrote about how angry I was at the time. I think I was angry at myself for a very long. I think I took responsibility for what happened and I think over a period of time I learnt that I had to let go and to realise that I didn’t cause this.
5. Did you find out who was responsible? Who the driver was?
Eventually, we had to go to court but I couldn’t look at him. So if he would come here today, I wouldn’t know him. At the time I couldn’t deal. I couldn’t look at him.
6. Now tell me about the book you dedicated to your sister.
The book I wrote is called Inside Out. The first poem is actually dedicated to her, To My Sister with Love. There are other poems I have written (about the incident) but I didn’t put them in the book because of course they were comprised of expletives (laughs) and so I decided not to…. To My Sister with Love was actually published in the Sunday Gleaner.
7. Are all your poems centered on family life?
No. The first part of my book, a Woman’s World, are really poems of issues that women go through. I talk about abuse…the first poem in that section is Pretty Woman which I believe is my baby poem (laughs). I believe this poem will take me to all the places that I desire to go in life because of its simplicity and the truthfulness of it. It talks about abuse, sexual abuse of women.
So a part of the book is dedicated to women; the different struggles, especially black women.
Generally, the book is a reflection of my innermost thoughts and feelings.
8. What is your style of poetry?
(Chuckles) That’s an interesting question. I think I write for the soul…I don’t try to live up to any standards, whatever I believe will heal the soul I tend to write about it. I write about things that people can relate to, things that they’ve experienced.
9. Finally, what is your message to persons who have lost a loved one to a similar tragedy?
I think you will always have that funny, unsettling feeling when you talk about an incident such as the one I expressed earlier. But the truth is, at some point, you have to will yourself to not necessarily get over it but to get on with your life.
(For me) it took many years, I’m talking about 5 years before I could admit that this happened to me and I’m hurting…and you have to will yourself so you can live on…so you can go on to live a fruitful life because that is most important.
And I believe the person who passed on would have wanted you to continue to live and live well.
And if it is that you need help, there are counsellors and there are places you can go (for help).
You warm my heart Talsia! Thanks for sharing your story.
Beautiful Black Girl by Talsia Williams
I almost called myself ugly,
The thought tugged at me
The synthesis of a laugh and a polluted thought frightened me,
How could this be?
Beautiful black girl like me
Walking with hands on knees;
Shoulders bent and bowed head
This can’t be!
I must have forgotten,
I must not have believed,
The intricacies of me:
My bold laugh
My soft heart
And my joyful thoughts
The thought again hauled me
A string of tear cascaded Fallen to my knees
In grave disbelief,
At the thought I had just conceived
Beautiful black girl like me
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Our Stories is a feature which sheds light on real, social issues in Jamaica through the inspirational stories of Jamaicans with lived experiences. Are you a Jamaican with a story to share? Contact us [email protected].