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Poems and images by Silla Alawa

Nov. 16, 2017

My work stands firmly in the belief that the way imagery and poetry work together in the stirring pot can directly affect the way we interpret their meaning. Though images can speak a thousand words, the additional mind gum of how a written work is interpreted by one artist is what helps it stick. 

The knowledge that there is no universal understanding of either the written or visual world consequently powers the fuse: will imagery of soft hues and facial expressions catch attention when displayed alongside a piece on Power? How far do we have to go to strike an imprint of importance before our attention is drawn away? 

What intrigues us the most isn’t the image—it’s the way that message relates to a personal life account, stirs a memory. With each piece, I hope to conquer a second thought. I seek the cultivation of dialogue in a generation of screengrabs. My goal is one of making art accessible, thoughtful, and useful to the conveyor.

This piece is designed to verbalize the strangeness of being different. It was written primarily to turn face and communicate the feelings of being Muslim and other in white America, specifically with wording.

I do not sit at the back of the bus by choice.

I have found that, when provoked, I am afraid of the consequences of difference in a uniformed stanza. 

My voice does not match this generation, this frustration does not suit me. 

I cannot label things nicely, I cannot fathom what is right and what is wrong. And I do not sit at the back of the bus by choice. Personal experiences of discovery are hard to pin together.

The pressure of writing is very strong. I am tired.
There is a throb, sometimes, in the left of each eye.
Dark and computer glare don’t mix well.
 my eyes are engorged in white.
Dilated pupils.
I showed my work to my sister today,
 this work. She said wow.
Can you feel your face ticking? Can you hear your lungs or taste
 your smell?
 Does your heart hear you?

I feel like (a) power at night
when my eyes are dimming
(and) my body grows smaller
in my thinking (and my nails make noises in my moving wake)
It's time for me to dream
Lining the beach
Women clad in gold
Fur puffs floating
(The stuff of memory)
My little sister falls asleep
 beside me and I can
Hear her eyes watching
Me (in the still) -
A shape of a head in
Feather tufts (and) sighing
Big and loud Goodnight
The power is making
its rounds (with no one to watch me).
I am tired (and) do not dare
Tell the glowing blue
night-light how I have
Been feeling un-