Many folks feel that the art of "wooing" a lover is lost in today's world. With our infatuation of social media dictating social interaction and standards for relationship building, it can be challenging to hit the right chord with a potential flame. Nonetheless, when trying to get someone's attention or articulating deep feelings for them, the key is to be honest and creative. In a world of short form videos, sub-tweets and long text messages, try going old school—try a love poem.
From Langston Hughes' To Artina and Gwendolyn Brooks' To Be In Love to Darrius' Brother to the Night (A Blues For Nina) in Love Jones, Black poets have been giving us free game on how to show love through the written and spoken word. Though it doesn't need to be immaculately constructed or a complete purging of your innermost emotions, the key to mastering a love poem is found in raw honesty.
Rashan Brown, spoken word artist and founder of the successful poetry platform Poetry Me, Please, captures the complexities of love through his own work. Not knowing that a break up in high school would catapult him into poetry, Brown has opened for renowned poets like Rupi Kaur and traveled to Ghana during Afrochella to unite other loves of prose across the Black diaspora. His platform Poetry Me, Please gives safe space to poets and spoken word artists from varying backgrounds to "showcase their talents through creative verbal expression." They are then gifted an opportunity to have their work expertly recorded for their own usage and access to a wide network to encourage relationship building and collaboration.
The poet took time to chat with EBONY about how to create a love poem and how to switch up your approach for someone you care for during February's 28 days of love.
EBONY: The month of February signifies the celebration of love and especially Black love. How do you celebrate and embody Black love?
Rashan Brown: I feel like I have this conversation all the time. It's such a natural instinct of expression and I feel like Black people are just so loving. You can take a step back and look at at love across many different relationships—whether for a significant other, friends, or family. The way that we express our love is so unique.
I think recently we've seen a spark of outward expressions of love, especially from Black men, where it's okay to say "I love you" out loud. A few years ago, it was not as accepted and no one really spoke about it. When I think about myself in college, my friends and I used to say things like, "Get home safe" but it wasn't like, "I love you, bro. I'll see you tomorrow." Now it is. I think it's okay to say that and it actually feels good, especially when you think about the way that Black people were raised and and have been able to overcome.
EBONY: One of the most romantic things someone can do is take the time to write a love poem. You’re no stranger to poems about love yourself as you’ve written and performed a few: Cupid’s Poem and Tell Me I’m Home. How do you go about crafting a love poem and what makes the perfect love poem?
When I think about writing love stories, whether it's missing out on love or reminiscing on love, it's requires me to lee vulnerable and look at the personal relationships that I've had.
Cupid's Poem is a conversation between myself and Cupid. From the jump up, in the first line I ask, Cupid, do you hate me? Cupid, do you love me? It's a back and forth thought process between my thoughts and the conception of Cupid's story of shooting you with an arrow to make you fall in love. When I wrote it, I wasn't in love and hadn't been in love in a while. So I was asking him, do you not like me? Because you've been out here for so long giving everybody else love and I haven't had love in a while. I'm still writing for myself. A lot of my pieces are for me. I think that frame of mind is when the best love poems are created.
EBONY: What tips do you have for folks interested in taking on the writing of one this month and beyond?
Obviously as a poet, I love being intentional. However, I think that a lot of people generally like to hear kind things about themselves. What I mean by that is if you take note of the things that your significant other says and document it over time, it goes a long way. For example, if you're intentional about it, you could start maybe a month or two months in advance of a special anniversary or major date. Maybe take a picture of this person or record them talking about something they are passionate about whenever you're with them. They may use repetitive words or have a specific style with the clothing that they wear. There's so many attributes that you could take note of and highlight in a love poem.
Paying attention to detail is so important. Because someone may not notice that they put up their hair a certain way or have a specific scent you enjoy. If you highlight it, they will feel like, Wow, this person is really interested in me. And I think that's like, the top thing to point out. If you can write down little notes here and there to use as inspiration, I think that'll be a winner.