Black August Haikus



Mama Nia’s Black August Haikus back story:

Back in the summer of 2007 while grappling with my deep yearning to find joy in all things small and great. During a front porch conversation a comrade told a story about  his friend, a political prisoner, who he corresponds with regularly. “He finds joy, everyday, in small spaces” he told me. That conversation pushed me to appreciate the many moments of joy already existing in my life.

That August as a group of us, (UBUNTU member), begin envisioning ways to celebrate Black August,  I remembered the conversation with my comrade and decided to spend the month writing short beautiful haiku poems as a daily reminder of those who have been forced to find joy in those small spaces. I asked my community to join me and together we wrote, and wrote and wrote. These writings hold an abundance of small space love, joy, celebrations, freedom, and resistance.

Since 2007 we have observed Black August every year by writing Black August Haikus. We have received them from our family and community members through snail mail, email, myspace and facebook. We have shared and received them in letters to/from incarcerated friends and family members. We have shared them as part of community performances, in street art installations and photo shoots. Soon we will be publishing our Black August Haikus in coffee table chapbook series. We hope to share this “everyday joy in small spaces” with incarcerated individuals around the world. Please check back soon for more details.


Nia Wrote:

Battle scar imprint
bare as birthmark at first breath
Tribe recognize tribe

Jonathan wrote:

George Jackson needs 2
pick his afro, baby, cause
its flat on one side.

Christina L wrote:

Mocha cinnamon
chocolate peanut butter too
black is beautiful

Reece Wrote:

Neither storm nor rain
No hurricane can break us
Power will concede.


Kriti wrote:

This is the August
The Earth has been waiting for;
All beings beseeching

Heather wrote:

dreams don’t die in death
they live through those who carry you
purpose new meaning

Lynne wrote:

deeply planted roots
holding up our future leaves:
children, free to be

Emily wrote:

sing song voice swollen
cajoles feet rhythm run fast
they speak mother tongue


Rather than write Haikus we decided to breathe life into the existing haikus and use them as public art installations we wrote and wore them on our bodies and used them in our Collective Sun performances.


Rain wrote:

“It’s one collect call
Mailed kisses in a stamps press
Sealed for always, sent.”

Alexis wrote:

“brother sister born
lions calling justice now
roar on home warriors.”

 Heather wrote:

“waiting patient still
memories surround my heart
here you stay always.”


Kriti wrote:

“no one breaks kinship
with barbed wire and furtive trucks.
i am your daughter.

Youssef wrote:

“Stolen from her home
She lays to rest in a land
of milk and honey.”

Khari wrote:

“She gazes at the Heavens
from which her help comes
for surely he will return.”


 Nia wrote:

“Confine dismantles
Love is sound-bite increment
savoring minutes”

 Rachael wrote:

Beatings of the warriors
Internal drumming”

 Dannette wrote:

“squatting in a jail cell,
guards think to humiliate
who’s truth is my truth?”


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