Meeting Jessie Reyez



It is 12.48pm and I am at home nestled beneath my cotton blanket, school is out for summer. I have long lusted days like this; home alone drinking tea next to my honeysuckle and cedar scented candle, hot water bottle pressed against my stomach. Work dates for my summer role are yet to be confirmed so I am enjoying my time off.

Yesterday was so much more than I expected. I had my driving lesson in the morning and I am surely improving. I went to the library straight after to write, read, work. I met with Christian, the poet in residence at my school, we spoke poetry and art and teaching. When he read my poem I saw his eyes change, he told me to read it at a poetry night. I am shy, but I accepted the offer.

I am still unearthing Fire and Joy. As I sit here musing on Nirrimi’s words, I can’t understand why creative subjects are squeezed out of schools when there is such an acute connection between art and the overcoming of sadness, anxiety, depression. Or why parents push imaginative children away from their dreams, I have seen so many talented children loved all the way into dead ends. Photography, drawing, rap; when a child has a means to make sense of the world, they will surely fly.

Remember I told you I would focus intensely on my goals? Your girl wasn’t playing, I searched online and found a writers group on Brick lane. After leaving Christian I rushed to this inspiring little book store to read and critique the work of other writers. In an hour I slipped in and out worlds of sci-fi and machines, future and past. In weeks to come I will share my own work. I left early to meet Michael and we went on our way to see Jessie Reyez sing at Hoxton Square Bar, I was enamoured.

I have changed my mind about some things I thought I knew. I thought love was acceptance, and I thought acceptance looked a little bit like turning the other cheek. I was wrong. I found myself being passive in situations where something said caused me discomfort or someone stretched too far into one of my boundaries. In my world, kindness has been a moving swirl of affection and passivity and this isn’t always healthy. Love is saying no when a no is needed, holding people accountable, and without trying to diminish the other person, simply telling them about their clart.

When it comes down to it, every choice I make is one between love and regret, whether I realise it or not.

Jessie Reyez has a voice like honey, she brings worlds together like a horizon, like Damian Escobar blends classical violin and hip hop. Anger is the earth and femininity is the sky. I found dreams I thought I had lost in her runs. Dreams of singing, time expanding. She covered Cocoa Butter Kisses and ScHoolboy Q’s ‘That Part’. We were high and just before our come down she’d say ‘You good?’ in a voice sweet and childlike. Her crazy and power and innocence reminded me that it is okay to feel it all. Sometimes I feel bitter, sometimes I feel ecstasy, sometimes I feel cheerful and sometimes I feel naughty. I think I would make a perfect hurricane. And while I must be honest with my words, I must be careful not to trap others inside my storm.

Michael and I got to talk to Jessie after the show. We spoke about the blurred lines between London and Toronto, how Jessie sounds Trini, speaking Spanish and her being from Colombia. My favourite song of Jessie’s is Gatekeeper, she illustrates her story of sexual intimidation in the music industry and I have shared it below because the world needs to hear it.

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