Arts & Culture

Artist Spotlight: Taiwana Shambley

Photo of Shambley performing a poem at a TruArtSpeaks event in 2018, taken by local photographer Awa S. Mally.

Artist Statement

Peace, y’all! I’m Taiwana Shambley, a fiction writer and poet born and raised in Saint Paul. I’m passionate about the intersections of family, community justice and radical politics. I’m currently working on my debut novel. It follows the story of A’home, a time-traveling island-nation created by the freedom dreams of Black radicals. The following poem was inspired by the uprisings over the summer. Some of my other work can be found on The Academy of American Poets’ website and in Belt Publishing’s anthology Black In The Middle.

North End is White Supremacy and Has Been Since Before the Summer (a bop)
Taiwana Shambley, executive editor

hella american flags in my neighborhood
and they mean what they’ve always meant
don’t need to know my neighbors
to know an opp when i see one
and i didn’t even mention the Black boy.

most the fires are across the river
looks like white supremacists left us alone tonight
but st paul police still knock like they pay bills
what's the difference
armed like we not Black
this kickback global
tell tin cup i like my breakfast with no pigs
and i didn’t even mention the Black boy.

we protest and throw voice at the capitol
military letting off blanks
looking like a bunch of symbolism
til the sergeant say pretty words
put cream in our coffee
and everyone forgot about the Black boy.