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Sula Collective


Francine Thompson Raz F. Angie Anzai Sophie Morada Oyinda Yemi-Omowumi Iman Messado Diana Bamimeke Saffa Khan Raheela Suleman Tara Raemerd Nicole ShantĂŠ White K. PiĂąero Nadia Rebello Jasmine Simone Van Hong Abondance Matanda Mia Rodriguez Sophia Yuet See Sonia + Shikha Pahari James (Jaime) Puente-Tortorelli

sulacollective.com/staff


notes from our editors In honor of Women's History Month, the womyn and non-binary people of Sula Collective's team/ regular contributors came together to compile an online zine for issue 6 dedicated to the womyn who have inspired each of us as individuals. Within this special edition issue there are odes to our matriarchal family members, essays on womynhood, photographs exploring the female gaze, and art honoring some of the greatest womyn in history. Living in bodies that are constantly gendered and stereotyped by society has been a strange, scary experience for all of us and this issue is a deliberate act of womyn and non-binary people creating a space where we can heal and celebrate our histories. Thank you to our incredible team of contributors who make this space possible.

designed by Sophia Yuet See


we are being held at a red signal by Raz F. I always thought tiredness was a smell. It’s thick in the air at a crowded airport lobby waitin’ for departure and it’s in my nose when I stay awake til’ four. It’s in cold grey places with artificial light, and in my mouth the first and fifteenth time I’m called exotic. I’m on a train going upwards and my destination is myself. In my hands is a plastic box of home-cooking that I always refused to take when I was younger because I was scared my friends would hate the smell of shrimps more than they hated the smell of tiredness.

collage by Francine Thompson


portraits of famous women of colo(u)r throughout history - Angie Anzai

audre lorde


Audre Lorde was a Caribbean-American writer, radical feminist, womanist, lesbian, and civil rights activist who dedicated her life to addressing racism, sexism and homophobia. Frida Kahlo was a queer, disabled Mexican artist, political activist and icon of female creativity.

frida kahlo


malala yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai is an incredible young, Pakistani activist for female education and an outspoken opponent of Taliban efforts to keep girls out of school.


Yuri Kochiyama was a Japanese American human rights activist who was committed to the civil rights movement in the black, Latino and Asian American communities alongside Malcolm X. Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors (on the next pages) are 3 queer, radical Black organisers who created the #BlackLivesMatter project in response to the aquittal of Trayvon Martin's murderer, George Zimmerman. Their hashtag catalysed a movement and platform calling for Black liberation in the face of police brutality. They are all outspoken about including queer, trans and disabled people in the forefront of their movement.

yuri kochiyama


alicia garza, opal tometi & patrisse cullors


Sophie Morada in my photography, i often use bright colors to draw attention to my subjects. in this series, the different colors illuminate our faces, as if we are in different worlds while we're on our phones.


a conversation between women of colour friends oyinda, cleo + zoe

an interview/conversation held by Oyinda + her friends, alongside a photo series of Cleo + Zoe


Oyinda: When would you say you shifted from being a child to being an adolescent/teenage girl? Zoe: I’m not sure, maybe 13-14, when I started to understand who I was. Although it took quite a while, especially with growing up as a black girl because I think there was a lot that people expected of me, both in the black and white community, and dealing with trying to conform made it a lot harder for me to both shift and be comfortable with myself. Cleo: For me, it was when I started worrying about the opinion of others. That’s probably what marked that transition, when I thought; You know what? I’m not gonna wear this skirt because I don’t want blah blah to think this of me, or I’m not gonna say this because I don’t want people to perceive this certain thing of me. When I started thinking about what others taught of me and it started affecting my actions Oyinda: So when you realised that people expected certain things of you? Cleo: Yeah, also how things that I did affected others. Oyinda: That’s probably what marked that transition for me, realising that I couldn’t just exist as myself and that I weave in and out of other people’s views rather than focusing solely on my own. It was probably an uncomfortable forced transition, especially coming into awareness of the fact that I had breasts and people would stare. Zoe: Yeah, men and teenage boys, especially because I had larger breasts than most people.


Oyinda: What does being a WOC mean to you? Cleo: It means some good things and some bad things, like when I say bad I’m talking about in the media and in popular culture. We’re never really presented as the beautiful or delicate type of women, for example our features aren’t seen as the epitome of beauty and that’s hard growing up and even harder when you reach that age of adolescence and you start caring more and more about what people think of you. Zoe: Yeah it is hard. It’s to be in Western Society something that’s not the norm, something not beautiful. But positively, being a Woman of Colour for me is being part of a beautiful and inspiring network of women, being in touch with my culture. It may not be the architype of beauty according to the media but being our own type of beauty for ourselves. Oyinda: Yes. Yes. Yes. I remember I used to be so uncomfortable with my blackness and then slowly, especially after reading some works by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, I started to like myself, the colour of my skin and my heritage. I started realising that being WOC meant proudly existing, and becoming my own type of beautiful. My mantra is actually “B UR OWN DREAM GIRL. B UR OWN LUV OF UR LIFE”. I saw it as part of this piece of art, and it’s stuck with me ever since.


"A lot is expected of you in terms of the way you act and the way you dress. You grow up really conscious of your being, cautious also of what you’re saying and what you’re doing."


Oyinda: How do you think being black has shaped your experiences as both a child and a young teenage girl? Zoe: Umm, I guess I questioned my identity a lot because of unrealistic representations of beauty and stereotypes that I didn’t embody. A lot is expected of you in terms of the way you act and the way you dress. You grow up really conscious of your being, cautious also of what you’re saying and what you’re doing. People judge you a lot, just because you're black and as you grow up it affects how you are a lot. Oyinda: Yeah, I think that, for especially, you get that judgement from both black and white people. I had it a lot at both primary school and secondary school, like I was never allowed to just be Oyinda. I had to be conscious of the fact that I was a black Nigerian girl living in London, so I had to be a certain away to not upset other black people and then not “put off” white people. I got called the term “Oreo” and “Coconut” a lot, simply because I was trying to assimilate myself into the dominant culture but then try to still retain my culture and heritage, especially having lived in Nigeria for a little bit when I was younger. I’m probably holding a lot repressed anger. Cleo: For me, like Zoe said, it’s made me more cautious growing up, trying not to conform to certain stereotypes of what black women are “meant to be like”, and still then conforming to these stereotypes when I’m trying to defy what everyone’s saying. It’s made me more aware and more patient with dealing with how people talk about my culture and my people. I’ve come to understand more about the way I come across to other people, and how to challenge people when they try bash us down. Oyinda: Yeah, I mean, who we are never gets depicted on magazines and TV shows, especially because mainstream media in England is very much taken from America Sure we had Eastenders and Hollyoaks, but still there’s the sense of that one token black family. Even though living in the southeast, Lewisham, where it’s very multi-cultural, I’d still look around and see a very white world. Look at Parliament and the Legal system! I definitely spent a lot of time feeling like I was outside of society because I was different, especially because I’d moved from Nigeria.


Oyinda: Growing up in the UK seems a lot less dangerous than growing up in America, but even still, would you personally say there’s reason to be wary? Zoe: Yes, there are still places and people who treat POC in an unfair/scary way. Although England isn’t as extreme as America, you still have to careful but maybe more in the past. Oyinda: It’s everywhere. Cleo: Watch Rude Boy! Oyinda: Or This is England! Cleo: Although both are set in like 80’s 90’s, so probably not as relevant to modern society, but still they hold some truth Oyinda: I mean look at how much attention UKIP got, like that’s scary. They maybe a watered down version of the BNP, but still watery racism is still racism. Look at Donald Trump over in the States! It just makes me weary knowing there are actually people who find no shame in voting for people like that. Cleo: It may not be as extreme as America, but it’s more under the surface so it’s more awkward to call someone out. Especially in primary school, looking back now some of the stuff that children, especially white kids were allowed to say was questionable. One girl once told me I couldn’t be a princess because I was brown! Oyinda: Seriously? It’s why I’m so grateful to now have Princess Tiana! She may have come late in my childhood but still, she definitely helped to boost my self-confidence. Also, on a different tangent, I think some people have the perception that because England may be more “freer”, it means you can pick and choose parts from cultures that don’t belong you. I’ve heard people comment on how “stupid” Reclaiming the Bindi Week or how it should be cool for white girls to have braids because it’s a part of fashion and everyone does it etc… Zoe: People need to realize that it isn’t a part of fashion, it’s a part of someone’s cultural tradition and therefore it has to be respected by not appropriating it. You have no knowledge of the importance it holds that person’s background, so why are you treating like it belongs to you. Cleo: And also I just want to state that just because you might be wearing something that you associate with being black doesn’t mean you’re black! You can’t then walk around calling yourself the N-word, and other people shouldn’t do so either to be honest.


Oyinda: Love and romance probably shape a good part of our existence, and in terms of a heterosexual relationship, talking about boys in particular, what’s the general feeling?

Cleo: You know what? Boys just really piss me off. It’s quite hard for a black girl when it comes to all that lovey-dovey stuff. Oyinda: Especially a dark-skinned black girl. Cleo: I mean I’m not saying they aren’t loved, because we are, even though sometimes is just cause some people wanna fetishize the skin, rather than like the actual person. But, it is hard. I remember I saw this post on Tumblr and it was like – Asking out someone’s who’s black, I hope they like black girls! Asking out someone’s who’s white, I hope they like black girls! Asking out someone who’s Asian, I like they like black girls? There’s that barrier for every single black girl, and even more darkskinned black girls. Zoe: Exactly! And I don’t think any single white girl would ever have to question her ethnicity before asking someone out. The fact that I have to address my own ethnicity, something I can’t even change, makes it so much harder to even want to date. Jeez, boys are just annoying. Cleo: Lol, boycott boyfriends! Zoe: Especially nowadays, a lot of dark-skinned black boys, in fact any boy, glorify light-skinned girls and forget about us! That makes it one step harder for us to just be and fall in love with people. Oyinda: Yep! Colorism is definitely becoming more prevalent in contemporary society. Especially with interracial couples, like love is love no matter the gender or ethnicity, but sometimes you just get that sense that there are certain people who only looking for someone lighter or darker than them so their kids turn out “cute”. There’s big issues with that. Even more, in advertising, the couples you see are either all white or interracial, it’s a rarity to see an all-black couple, and that annoys me.


Oyinda: Who are your role models, especially in terms of being a WOC? Zoe and Oyinda: KEKE PALMER! Oyinda: Especially after watching that interview, I just felt inspired. Zoe and Cleo: BeyoncÊ, Ella Fitzgerald, Maya Angelou. Oyinda: Solange. Zoe: Eartha Kitt. Cleo: These women with big beautiful voices, not afraid to be themselves and express themselves. Just listen to Phenomenal Women by Maya Angelou. Oyinda: For me, a very big role model is definitely Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie. After watching her feminist speech and reading Americanah, I felt like I had found my place in the world and even more, I learnt to not be afraid of loving my Nigerian Heritage. Women like her just inspire me to keep on existing. Zoe: Lauryn Hill. Oyinda: Lauryn Hill especially. Every week, I’m discovering another of her tracks and just falling in love.


Iman Messado


'Suuru Lere' by Diana Bamimeke (Yoruba phrase, literally meaning “patience is rewarding�)

illustration by Saffa Khan


I miss Nigeria. I remember two things about it- no, scratch that, I miss a litany of things. There’s a whole inventory, I’m telling you, of experiences and tastes and dances and hairstyles. We stayed in a two-storey complex - we being my half-sister and my mother and myself and a rotation of visiting relatives - overlooking the slums of Lagos city. The outer walls were topped with barbed wire and the electricity was erratic, often not on at all. It made for afternoons as stretched out and empty as savannahs. I kept busy reading or writing or watching the children scuttle towards a ramshackle school. This is how you wake up on a Nigerian morning – first, is the slow, stentorian cry of the muezzin, who is entrusted with calling all Muslims to morning prayer. I am not religious, but the regularity of this call was reassuring. After rubbing the sleep dust out of your eyes, you have a cold shower. Hot water was a scarcity here. It is too humid anyway; your armpits are damp by at least 9 am. Breakfast is usually Agege bread and Lipton tea, or if it’s a nice day, fried plantain, scrambled eggs and boiled yams. I maintain that African food in general is the most comforting. There is nothing like pounded yam and egusi soup to soothe the soul. If I wasn’t loitering around the complex and looking for wall lizards, then I was crammed into a metallic green Jeep with cousins and aunties and friends, careering down motorways, wiping sweat from my brow. It was owned by my mother’s brother, Uncle Idowu, who was as portly as the day is wide. He extended joviality to everyone he met, including me, a niece he’d last met when I was just a baby. My family day-tripped around

Lagos almost every day. We went to friends’ homes, parties and markets. We went to Victoria Island, a wealthier part of the country, and ate in restaurants where a small bowl of jollof rice was about 1,000 naira, which is absolutely ridiculous. I still wolfed it down, because it was that good. When we crossed the Third Mainland Bridge, my grandma covered her eyes in fear, because the volume of the water below us was immense. My sister and I took selfies, naturally. Our apartment was on the first floor. It was one of two with a balcony, the other belonging to our landlady. Always, in the late evening, soundtracked by the whine of mosquitoes, I sat there with my Etihad Airways blanket wrapped around me. My cousin joined me one time and questioned me relentlessly about living in the west. What’re the schools like? he’d ask. Is there electricity all the time? How are the oyinbo people? In Nigerian culture, there is a peculiar custom, among youth especially, of calling those older and unknown to you Auntie or Uncle. I used it myself, and still do actually, but when my cousin said it to me, it was jarring. Nonetheless, careful explanations of education and white people were given. I saw the Milky Way once. The lack of power chagrined me a few times, but minimal light pollution at night meant a stellar spectacular free for anyone, only you just had to look up. It floored me. Human articulation fails events like this so terribly – but it felt like a starry crevasse yawned open in reality, and my limited knowledge fell into it, along with my fears, my bête noires. For days afterwards I could not shake off this surreal tint everything had. It was a little frightening, and I was doubtful of how substantial the people and the


things I knew were. Despite this, I credit it as the most philosophical experience I have ever had. I mentioned the slums before. Unfortunately, many of them are sprawled across the city. Poverty remains a problem. Electricity is often out of the question.

to say goodbye or help us pack. Arguing could be heard throughout the area, me with my sister over a shirt, my sister with her husband over a laptop. Much of it occurred on the balcony. The family from the slum even emerged to watch us, so entertaining were our pugilisms.

Human articulation fails events like this so terribly – but it felt like a starry crevasse yawned open in reality, and my limited knowledge fell into it, along with my fears, my bête noires. I made friends with a family from the one in front of the complex. Our balcony had a direct view of their home, which was really just a collection of small shed-like structures made of cinderblocks. Because we didn’t have a blender, and my mum was a little (very) snobbish, this family would grind our peppers and onions and garlic for us. Armed with eighty naira and a bucket laden with pungent vegetables, I’d walk out to them and ask politely. They spoke English. I assumed the lady who ground up the vegetables in a rusty blue machine was the matriarch of the family. She called me by my name once, which surprised me. A few minutes would whisk by, and a bright red juice would start to trickle out of the machine’s spout. I’d say thank you and return with the uncooked liquid, ready to be made into another soup. My family are shouters. Everything is communicated loudly in our house – wherever it is, be it Lagos or Dublin. The day of the flight home, tens of relatives crammed themselves into the apartment,

I retreated to my bedroom, stood at the mosquito-mesh window. It had a view of our neighbour’s banana tree and his animals. Thoughts of the muezzin flitted by. Then of the wall lizards, then of the two cows slaughtered for my sister’s wedding, and then the flight home. I missed my friends sorely. I was absent for the first week of my final year at secondary school. Were they thinking of me? Were they worried? How would I approach them after our last summer apart? My cousin, the one burgeoning with questions, popped his head around the door. “Auntie Ore”, he said slowly (Ore being my Yoruba name), “can I have just something small? Before you go?” I rummaged through packed clothes and palmed him 150 in notes. He was delighted. I think I showed him the Irish €2 coin as well, by which he was fascinated. This immediately made me the favourite family member. It pleased me a little because I don’t think I’ve ever been anyone’s favourite. Anyway, we dragged our bags into the waiting Jeep, voices still fighting for prominence.


In the rear window, I watched the complex grow smaller, and smaller, and smaller still, until it was an infinitesimal black dot on the horizon. We reached Murtala Muhammed Airport, where I gained some semblance of clarity. I got on the plane and closed my eyes. When I opened them, I was in Ireland. I say I miss Nigeria because it marked my entrance into young adulthood. It was 2014 and I was 15, just a few months shy of my sixteenth birthday. On that trip, I was the most creative I have ever been. My scripts and story ideas were scribbled into a yellow Easons’ copy. The Life of Pi, The Bell Jar and Kevin Brooks’ Lucas harboured overflow writing, and notes on the texts themselves, because I’d read them like scripture. Now that I am approaching the end of my first year of university, I realise that I feel compelled to do everything at once, and to do it extremely well. Though I was a little ambitious in school, I at least gave myself allowances and accepted the help of others. I rarely do that now. Leaving a familiar setting, like secondary, can push you into a state of devolution, especially when it has five or six years of you. Believe me when I say this, after I graduated, I thought I’d never see a light or a relief, and that my life would stay as bland and textureless as elevator muzak. I know I’ll visit Lagos again, maybe before I finish university. An aftermath can only last so long. For now though, I know I’m in this for the longest haul possible. I still want to do everything, and am trying to reconcile this want with the fact that I’m not Atlas, not a superhuman, not a perfect person by any stretch of the imagination. Suuru lere, cautions my mother, there is a time for

everything. But I feel I am running out of minutes and seconds, days and hours. I have not made a cosy gaggle of friends, which comes easily to others. I have yet to share my chronology with a person I truly love. I have not produced work that swells me up with pride. My expectations weigh a millstone. I want Andromeda but have only the moon. So I repeat the phrase, when I am sprinting ahead of myself. A tiny truism of a thing. It helps more than I thought it would. While the muezzin, and the wall lizards, and our landlady, and the market, and the Milky Way, and the music of Fela Kuti, and the smell of ata rodo, and my cousin, and the flight back home, and my friends, and the end of many things I’ve known, all ricochet around my head. I say, suuru lere, Ore. Your everything will soon come.


about the spinning top at the end of inception by Raheela Suleman illustration by Tara Raemerd

i kept my brain cut into pieces in a jar, one quarter left in a head, so I have someone to talk to after they hit the mute button. it’s a never ending word document, a printer producing counterfeit money, a spinning top told me it would drop dead. something alive that lives in a swimming pool of chlorine stained skeletons, like a quarter of an organ waiting in a bath of ice, bloody teeth on the carpet at the dentist’s house, inside out vertebrates scattered on a lily pad, hands in the hands of the one you used to rock, paper, scissors with, a real scissor-hand that snips off your nose. a leaking ceiling that i used to hate. a phone with seven missed calls from three different people. when i said goodnight i was an earthworm growing into a new body. i nearly drowned as a trout with nikes dipped in algae by the corner of the street. when you see a white crouched figure on an ocean bed with lips swaying like seaweed, you should scream out of politeness, it is my ghost. the room is filled with cinema air. you kicked yourself and now you have a dark green bruise on your leg. the alien called himself kid a. you were sure they sang by your bedside, three fingers on your forehead the year before. the dial kept ringing. the world crossing its legs in the waiting room. how did it move this fast over six hours. your sister complains of how loudly you talk at three a.m. her mouth a goldfish bowl of cornflakes. in mid air the bubbles leave her sighs. without the full brain you found them hard to recognise, toothpaste and saliva dripping down your chin, wondering if the dentist’s carpet was always stained and frayed.


On Trying to Figure Out Whether I’m PMSing or Entering Another Depressive Episode Nicole Shanté White Either way, the deadbolt is steel Either way, my body is still Either way, the floor is flooding Either way, my body can’t figure out what to do with all of this blood Either way, the walls are sodden fog Either way, my body doesn’t recognize my voice Either way, the headboard is sandpaper Either way, my body doesn’t want Either way, the clock taunts Either way, my body is shedding Either way, the air is heavy handed Either way, my body is howl Either way, the mattress is shackle Either way, my body is here, again

illustration by Raz F.


HAIR n HOUSING

BY K. PIÑERO

All I want is to live in a queer black n brown house in, or near, a city. I want to feel like I belong and like I’m not being judged by the people around me. I don’t want to feel like I’m doing things to myself to please other people. I know this doesn’t apply to everyone who wears makeup or dresses “feminine”, but ever since I started doing both of those things my self-confidence went downhill. To some extent I have always given a fuck about what others thought of me thanks to my anxiety and my racially-fueled self-hatred (now gone for the most part), but there was an honest-to-god period of my life where I didn’t give a shit about my appearance at all because I thought I had managed to make myself look pretty. I wore my hair curly for a good year or two my freshman and sophomore year of high school because I couldn’t take straightening it anymore. Three hours spent on hair care was excessive, so I just started wearing this olive green straw mens fedora I got from F21 that was way too big for my head (who knew hats came in different sizes? I didn’t). Then I cut off about a foot's worth of my curls in the bathroom and had a short, curly bob for about two months before deciding on shaving the sides and leaving the top long- think Rihanna during her red hair phase. My confidence was really at its peak then. For the first time in my life I really felt like how I appeared on the outside finally matched who I felt like on the inside. My outfits looked better, people wanted to be my friend because they thought I was fashionable. I started shopping for my clothes and shoes in SoHo instead of the mall. I discovered moleskines and new writers and was reading and writing on a daily basis. It was like my appearance affected how everything else in my life went too.


I finally worked up the courage to shave my head in the middle of my junior year of high school. I bought a clipper set from Sally’s at the mall and hid it from my mother who had just had a minor surgery and when I went home on New Year's Eve, I snuck into my basement and shaved it all off using a mirror and a garbage bag to catch the hair. I still have a 2 minute long recording on my old kodak camera. That haircut really caught everyone’s attention. People would whisper about me when I passed by them in the halls. I had wanted to shave my head since I was 12 and was sick of my parents telling me what I could do with my hair. I didn’t care if anyone made fun of me anymore. I just wanted to feel good about myself, for myself. And it worked. I had a shaved head for about four years. Somewhere along the line, the baldness of my scalp started making me feel insecure. I developed body dysmorphia (which had always been present in some way, but was never as pronounced as it had become in recent years) and disordered eating habits began to ruin my life. I, quite literally, became a shell of what I used to be. My eating disorder almost ate me alive one summer, but I fell in love and started binge eating to compensate for the lack of meat on my too-fragile bones. The girl I loved left me and my scale plummeted again. I went from using my hair to control my feelings, to using my weight. I last shaved my head in August of 2015, started wearing makeup in October, bleached my hair in November, and have been styling it in a pixie cut while it grows through its awkward stages. The products I’ve been using made me break out and I decided to give my hair a break and wear it in a small fro. It’s been 4 years since I’ve seen my curls and seeing them brings back the same insecurity I felt as a 12 year old ripping out chunks of my hair in the bathroom because of how badly I wanted to look like a white girl. I feel ugly with them loose, and cute when my hair is flattened, but I’m growing out my small fro anyway to “decolonize my ass” because that is something I owe the once fearless 14 year old and the crying, suicidal 12 year old. I am trying to recapture my I-don’t-give-a-fuck attitude again, but it is such a hard thing to do when I’m back in a predominantly white town surrounded by a bunch of white kids in a school that is so unabashedly racist and homophobic. In New York, I wouldn’t have thought twice about trying to reclaim my body and identity. I see so many people online living in these self-made communities with their friends and their vibes are so beautiful and so prideful and that’s all I want for myself. I’ve learned that it’s okay to make a community for yourself and others like you and being in a queer black n brown house seems like the type of place I would thrive and learn to love myself again, even though it most likely won’t be happening any time soon. So for now, I’ll wait for my curls to grow back and continue stalking QTPOC housing facebook groups in the late hours of the night.


bath blues


“Nicole showed up at my house after calling in sick for work. We mucked around and took some photos in my bathtub. This set explores the fragility of femininity and emphasises the need for having some time for yourself. Looking after yourself is important; if you need a break, give yourself one.�

by Nadia Rebello


she

by jasmine simone

she takes a half-joint from her back pocket & fires it up with a little orange lighter she smells cocoa butter and fried fish as she cups fire dangling from her lips and the streets are black so she keeps blinking to adjust but nothing is working shit thought i saw a flash or something the ashes are flying off the tip into blackness turns out it’s old Scooter and that damn laser now here come this lil albino dork always staring into the depths of space or even worse somebody’s mama’s legs

i

she exhales a gush of smoke and watches it fall into darkness out of existence she catches hospy up ahead an elder is limping the streets with light brown grocery bags twirling at her knees

ms lady been in that dumpster again she thinks smelling some stench coming from the elder’s way she gags

ms lady coming now trekking with a bad back and a head of tiny grey plaits pocking through a discolored beret

could’ve sworn she saw a needle


sprouting from ms lady’s forehead like some but chucks it up to the hash instead and

damn unicorn starts swaying to

badu’s bag lady & she laughs remembering when auntie fell in the lobby of her fancy-ass-high-rise

she watches the elder in the lull of the night and thinks of auntie tripping over laundry totes stuffed of status grocery bags filled with empty make up bags packed of pretty & a dark green doonie & bourke full of bitch auntie was the kind of woman who made little eye contact with common folk and gave money to abandoned kittens on TV cause she wanted to help scoot is headed her way trying to shine the laser on the tip of the joint she stares at the tip trying to keep her eyes steady red dot

ash orange red black boy he bounces the light


from her eyes to lips over & over what you doin girl none of yo business what you want he steps back and points the light to the embroidered M on her apron

a smirk stretches across his top lip

i ain’t got time fa yo shit tonight scoot as she scrunches her face he stares at her shoes for a while not knowing whether to scram or beam the laser on her forehead by the time his eyes meet back up with hers she’s somewhere else up the street straight ahead on ms angie’s stoop mean old lady who lived alone down alaska avenue

ms angie

a bitter widow with skin of too-milky coffee and a love for 70s R&B bill wither’s ain’t no sunshine ohio player’s fire

and there they are

shit like that


sitting sharing newport’s singing along to curtis mayfield’s stone junkie smiles spilling about them as clouds filter over the moon like a generation of spider webs a grey lining of everything wrapped up in a lyric and a puff she’s somewhere else now so deep in the night she's flirting with phantasy on the moon & she

hardly notices slicing her shadow

red

lil scoot


Sula Reads

our collective’s favourite books by female authors

K. Piñero: Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere is a collection of beautifully written short stories. I had heard of the book through a blogger a few months back and took a while to actually order myself a copy, but managed to grab one on amazon for a measly four dollars. I remember having struggled with finding writers of color to look up to when I was a child, but never imagined that I would find one who could capture the unearthly feeling that comes with growing up a young girl of color. This collection features religion pretty heavily and brought back memories of being toted to church every Sunday, hearing family members speak in tongues, and watching the adults line up to drink wine and eat bread. Every story is perfectly crafted and describes the lives of young African American girls in ways I have never seen done before. When I finished reading it, I felt like someone had discovered my humanity and was shining light on us all so we would finally be seen, but I also felt a deep sadness at the pain all of these girls had to face at such a young age before remembering that those girls reflected me, too. I only wish someone had shown me ZZ Packer when I was ten years old telling myself I had to write white characters in order to become a writer.

Van Hong: White Teeth by Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith’s debut novel White Teeth is a fast-paced, energetic romp - through pubs, earthquakes, smoke-filled school grounds, mean battlefields, and even meaner hair salons. The book’s voice is light and irreverent, while the weighty story earned critical acclaim for its ambitious exploration of colonialism, immigration, faith and science across several decades and countries. But I loved it for its energy and fun: the height of simultaneous domestic discord among three diverse families redistributes their children like marbles; one twin breaks his teeth against a vase in Asia, the other breaks his own at the exact same moment in London, falling against a sink laughing at his brother’s expense; the most passionate arguments against colonial history and the deepest filial betrayals take place in a grubby men’s only pub - over a sandwich. The ambiguous conclusion would be almost unsatisfying resolution if you had an expectation of getting somewhere, but Smith gives such pleasure in just going.


Abondance Matanda: The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi

It’s been ages since I’ve read this beautifully written almost delicate book, but I find myself thinking about it a lot. The story revolves around a lil British girl who is navigating her mixed-race identity and different cultures which makes her grow up a bit. My favourite bits are the ones set in Nigeria. What’s amazing about this book is that Helen Oyeyemi wrote it when she was a student aged like 17/18 which is how old I am/will be this year. It makes me feel like I can do great things and it’s important to make time to let your art and your

Francine Thompson: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Let me start off by saying that anything by Didion is absolutely brilliant. Fiction and non-fiction alike, she has a way of tapping into her own thoughts and surroundings, recording them, and writing about them in a way that’s incredibly pure. I reread The Year of Magical Thinking every once in awhile because it has to be my favorite of hers. The non-fiction work is a recounting of her experience regarding the death of her husband and the deterioration of both herself and her daughter. Didion writes about her feelings in a way no one else can. She’s blunt, honest, and detailed. Any of her books or essays are stunning reads

Jasmine Simone: The Color Purple by Alice Walker My favorite book written by a woman would have to be The Color Purple by Alice Walker. Firstly because there are so many strong, feminine characters in the book that my heart races just thinking about it. I see my mama and my auntie and even little ‘ol me in Sug Avery and Celie and Sofia. Sug Avery is one of the richest characters that I’ve ever experienced, and I think I mostly identified with her love affair with the divine and the secular world. She encompassed a spirit of her own in the midst of a patriarchal, white-washed, Bible belt atmosphere. She was a mystic on a mission of self love, and by that she taught others how to love better and feel deeply. I love Alice for allowing me to imagine women as I imagine myself - dynamically beautiful.


Raz F.: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy I really love this book mainly because the style it’s written in is so different and unique; the book itself is about a family in India during the rise of communism. It has a lot of really good commentary on race/colourism and a really profound look on growing up; I couldn’t stop reading it, the atmosphere and descriptions just swept me in completely. It’s a really beautiful book.

Mia Rodriguez: All About Love by bell hooks bell hooks has a way of explaining really complex concepts like love, commitment, the feminine and masculine, and both platonic and romantic relationships from a point of view that is critical of the capitalistic, patriarchal and imperialistic society we live in. This book helped me not only redefine love but the ways in which I can communicate and show love to others in an honest and healthy way. It’s a must-read for people who are in a stage of their lives who are ready to have and experience love.

+ Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire Warsan’s debut is a short but powerful book of poems that recall a painful and fractured immigrant experience, something I could relate to even though our cultures are different. She speaks with such honesty and simplicity while still managing to capture haunting feelings of love lost, longing for the homeland, and the immigrant experience. This is the book for you if you’re tired of boring, old white men writing poems referring to cigarettes and Paris.


live sketches of Wendie Renard by Van Hong

The following pieces are live sketches drawn in real time during the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada. This selection of match action drawings depicting Wendie Renard is a series curated exclusively for Sula Collective. They originate from a larger project in which I sketched live drawings during nine matches at various game locations in Canada, and attempted to capture both individual athletic movement and match narrative. Wendie Renard is a French central defender with over 70 caps and sixteen international goals. She originates from Martinique, and is captain of Olympique Lyon, who are the current champions of Division 1 Féminine and winners of Coupe de France Féminine. She captained the French National Team in the World Cup, where France placed 5th after being eliminated by Germany in a penalty shootout.


- Abondance Matanda


Stories Between Sisters photography by Sophia Yuet See

documenting sisterhood alongside poems Sonia + Shikha wrote to each other.

to: Shikha from: Sonia subject: I’m not reading you this poem while you text

your cranberry crush careens through Ephesus, aquatic, angular; she throws almond milk tantrums in her thin candied skin, lock ur screen with parvulipetala twins. lime green in the neonatal ICU memoirs of the laundromat bloggers club, sorority sisters gone sour from lizzie mcguire to the abyss.


to: Sonia from: Shikha subject: Fur Linings

Kissing-comfits and eringoes, {Candied roots of the sea holly}. Anthropophagi: Piercing souls since 1815. Sugar gliders silk a future past on asphalt And cardamom In a reptile textile of herbal anxiety. Brushing the blood off my pink powdery linoleum, Mourning the loss of our uterine lining. Rest lightly on a rose milk stereo. Drink of your sister on my diamagnetic diamond. Add gelatine to your rococo party pantaloons. Erode this enamel with your alchemy. Now dizzy in blissful awareness of the Radiology and cartography that monitor your dreamland And your cherry chocolate arteries.


Sonia by Sophia Yuet See


CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS an online magazine for & by people of colour

issue 7 / april ‘16: rhythm submit your: • visual art • film • photography • comics • collages

• writing • poetry • fiction • personal essays • journal entries

• other • music • playlists • DIY / tutorials

+ anything else

email your work to: sulasubmissions@gmail.com deadline extended - april 10th we also always welcome any general submissions, see sulacollective.com/submissions

illustration by saffa khan


issue 6 / march 2016 sulacollective.com

Sula Collective issue 6: Women's History Month  

Sula Collective is an online magazine / space for + by people of colour. This zine is in celebration of Women's History Month, featuring wor...

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