Rolling Out

Edoheart shares new poetry and how love helps New Yorkers survive pandemic

Edoheart shares new poetry and how love helps New Yorkers survive pandemic
Photo: provided by Edoheart

Edoheart understands the power of words.  A royal descendant of the Ugu Kingdom of the Benin Empire of Nigeria, Edoheart is a princess of Ugu.

Raised in Detroit and now a resident of Brooklyn, New York, Edoheart stands as one of the nation’s top poets and songwriters. On April 10, Edoheart will release For The Love.

Edoheart discusses her new project and how New Yorkers are dealing with the pandemic.

When were you first introduced to poetry?

Poetry (ekharaha or ekhara) is a big part of Edo culture. There are at least 12 genres of classical Edo poetry. My mom wrote poems and plays when I was growing up. My dad would come home with discarded books from the University of Detroit Mercy for me, some of which were Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets. Additionally, I participated in cyphers with other kids for whom hip-hop was just a de facto aspect of our everyday Detroit culture.

When did you begin crafting your latest project?
After I made the first two tracks of this EP in early 2019, I started to realize that the songs were all about one topic – love. From there, I made a conscious decision to confront different angles of love and each of the songs is about a different kind of love. “Rogie (Oh No)” is about obsessive love (mania); “Seesaw” is about playful love (ludus); “Do Me Do Me” is about romantic love (eros); “Original Sufferhead” is about self-love (philautia); and, “I WIll Be There” is about an enduring, unconditional love (pragma/agape).
Why is this project important during these times?
It doesn’t take a great deal of perspicacity to take a look around the world and see that love has been missing in different ways. In the rise in authoritarian governments, in the jaded way in which we can see a lot of folks discussing love and relationships on social media, in a lot of our music, and in violent White nationalist perspectives demanding that America be closed to people of color, immigrants, women, queer folk, the poor. It takes love for each other and for ourselves to behave with mercy.
What are your thoughts on National Poetry Month?
I’m glad it exists. One of the important functions of poetry is that it helps us express feelings that we cannot otherwise put language to. When we rearrange words, giving them a different construction, we can generate intersensorial feelings and ideas that come closer to the complexity of experience with which and in which we really live. Poets create keys to unlocking feelings, thoughts, and ideas that advance us all to a richer experience with a greater understanding of ourselves and each other.
How are you and other New Yorkers dealing with the pandemic?
I’m calling up my friends and checking in on those who have been experiencing symptoms. I’m sharing resources that I see are available or that I’m able to make available. I will continue posting on my social media, grants and other funding opportunities as I come across them. I see other New Yorkers similarly providing free online classes, sharing recipes, sharing information…New Yorkers value our society and the diversity in it that makes us a special place.
What should be learned?
One of the big lessons to be gained from this pandemic event so far is that the way we treat our environment, the way we treat animals, and the way we treat each other, does not occur in a vacuum. We’re all one organism. Let’s learn this before it’s too late. If we’re going to do and be in the world, we need to do and be ‘For the Love.’
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