“And so, The Black Girl Sings in a Whisper,” an excerpt from Dichotomy by Mikhayla Robinson

And so, The Black Girl Sings in a Whisper

I might be too loud for this one,
Maybe a little off-key.

My life has been an echo-chamber of complaints,
Of things I will never be allowed to do.

One day I’ll skip down the street
Running straight through traffic,
Afro and all.

I’ll look at everyone who uttered an order,
And I’ll break every rule.

Most importantly,
I’ll love myself more than anyone else did

from Dichotomy

An Interview with Mikhayla Robinson

First and foremost, what inspired you to write Dichotomy?

Dichotomy started off as a way for me to express myself to myself. They were poems that I had written over the years that I felt may connect to others that see the world from a similar perspective.

You designed the cover for this chapbook yourself—can you tell us more about that design and process?

I felt that the symbolism of differing types of flowers with the distinctive black and white color scheme provided a way to see into the book without ever opening the cover, giving the reader a chance to absorb the meaning of the chapbook itself.

Did you have the idea of this being a manuscript from the start or did this start out as individual poems?

I feel that it started off as individual poems, but through the course of writing and rereading them I realized that the messages connected into a theme.

Do you have a favourite piece from this collection?

I put a lot of thought into each work, and I view each one almost how a mother isn’t “supposed” to have a favorite, but, if I had to choose, I’d have to say Save Yourself is something that I connected with at that time.

Were there any sections you decided not to include in the final version? Or pieces you added later in the process?

No there wasn’t. At the time that Dichotomy was picked up, it was virtually a finished work.

Who would you most recommend Dichotomy to?

I feel like everyone can read Dichotomy and get something from it whether it be a sense of acceptance, understanding, or perspective, however, growing up as a black woman, it was written with that in mind.

What have been your favourite and least favourite parts of the publication process?

I would say my own ignorance in a sense is both. I despise the fact that I don’t understand the entirety of the process but experiencing it and learning has been an enjoyment.

Do you have any advice for those who might want to follow in your footsteps?

I wouldn’t call myself some kind of expert on the process but I would say that if you are going to write and express yourself in this format, you have to be true to what you believe in and write that.

What project(s) are you working on going forward?

I have another collection of poetry that I am working on that has yet to be named, but it is similar in content.

Besides the amazing work you’ve created here, what’s your favourite piece you’ve ever created? How about your favourite by someone else?

My favorite book is Their Eyes Are Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston and I don’t really have a favorite piece by myself as of yet.

Dichotomy will be available 24 March