ARTIST TALKS ABOUT EMPOWERMENT THROUGH POETRY
Leslé Honoré is known for her poems about Meghan Markle, Vice President Kamala Harris and Serena Williams. The Blaxican artist, activist and author is a graduate of Xavier University in New Orleans and has read her work at Obama Foundation events as well as at the Silver Room Block Party.
Honoré said she writes from her own point of view and hopes it comes out authentically.
“I’m always writing from the frame of the Brown and Black woman. My life as a mother of Black children, of attending an HBCU. That’s always the starting point for me. So, the fact that other Black women see themselves in it is such a huge compliment as an artist,” she said.
Honoré describes writing about current events as live tweeting, but with poetry. “I’m talking about things that are happening, what we’re experiencing, what we’re reading and seeing in the news. And, I’m trying to write about it in a way different than how it’s presented to us, but really reminding us of the humanity behind the hashtags, the people attached to the headlines and often how we are maneuvering through a world that is essentially filled with white supremacy,” she said.
The result is the poem she wrote about Ma’Khia Bryant, the 16-year-old girl who died after a fatal police shooting in Columbus, Ohio. Or, “Brown Girl Brown Girl” about Vice President Kamala Harris, which went viral on social media. “Brown Girl Brown Girl” is also the title of a children’s book set to be released in 2022. Honoré said it was her daughter who “pulled her coattails” while she was writing “Fist & Fire,” which was published in 2017, to write stories about brown girls. She said she was in the car when she found out Harris won the election as vice president.
“I pulled over and all I could think about was “Brown Girl Brown Girl,” I couldn’t think about a new piece. I just made a couple of edits that way and posted it. And, the rest is a beautiful piece of gratitude in my life that I’m so blessed to have experienced,” she said.
Honoré said she always knew she wanted to be a writer, but never thought about being a children’s book writer. She said once Meena Harris, Vice President Kamala Harris’ niece reposted the poem, Honoré had some of the largest publishing houses contacting her. She said she was floored when Johanna Castillo, of Writer’s House, wanted to represent her.
“As a poet, and especially a Brown and Black woman in her 40s, getting a literary agent is like hitting the lottery, it does not happen for the most talented and well-connected individuals,” she said. “It was nothing I planned, I’m just so glad that God’s will is so much larger than what I can dream.”
Honoré said that empowering young people is imperative to ensure there is a future. She said she can’t think of a future with that empowerment.
“To ensure they are not having to fight the same battles we have, that they’re not seeing the same barriers, that we’re doing everything we can to make space for them and clear paths and then, with our choices and our fights make things easier for them, that’s what we’re supposed to do, that’s how we create legacy,” she said.
Honoré added it is important to empower youth so they know what their people have endured, what their ancestors have endured and it will give them tools to fight the fights they will be faced with.
Entertaining was always a part of Honoré’s household growing up. She said there was all types of music in the house. Her father was from New Orleans and her mother from Mexico. She said they entertained with food and friends. She said her father self-published a book of stories before he unexpectedly passed away, which inspired her to self-publish her book.
“It’s how we work. And, I think my kids do it as well. We don’t know how to not let that part of our soul have a voice. And, it makes for a very whole and fulfilled person in life, I think,” she said.
Honoré said that she is planning to write “Brown Boy Brown Boy” and have it published. She also wants to continue to merge her professional work with her passion and poetry. “I don’t put any limits on what God’s plan is, I’m just happy to walk in it,” she said.
For more information about Leslé Honoré, visit leslehonore.com, or follow her @LesleHonorePoetry on facebook, Instagram and Twitter.