“No anthem louder than when I sing to my own frame
Nothing sweeter than tasting the words
“I love you”
on my own tongue
Declaration does not get much bolder than this
This sanctuary of bone and curve
locked in flesh ain’t nobody’s but mine.”
– An excerpt from “This body” by Hannah Sawyerr.
Hannah(21) is an English major student and poet. She currently resides in Baltimore and is a First generation American by way of Sierra Leone. Growing up, Hannah was blessed with hard working parents who went above and beyond for her.
“I call my father a magician. To this day, I have no idea how he kept the illusion that we were comfortable when we were really struggling.”
Hannah is the only member of her family amongst her siblings born in the States. Being a first generation American comes with privileges and disadvantages. Hannah felt a sense of exclusion from both her peers and family. She did not feel accepted by either side. Too African for American, too American for African. This exclusion prompted self-hate at first, but with time turned into self-acceptance.
“It is a process. You hate where you come from because of exclusion. But then you learn to know why you need to love it.”
Hannah is a lovable and authentic women. She exudes a headstrong persona in her life and authenticity in her writing. “ People are not meant to be islands. I believe that human beings are meant to be relational people, so in everything that I do I try to be as honest and relational as possible.”
Opening up about her flaws and expressing how extremely naïve and gullible she sometimes is wasn’t easy but important. “I want to trust people so badly but I am learning that not everyone has my best interest at heart.” A show of hands if you can relate!!!
“I am obsessed with becoming a woman comfortable in my skin.” -Sandra Cisneros
Hannah’s daily goal embodies this quote. Becoming a better version of herself and giving people the opportunity to do the same. Taking the time to meditate and evaluate herself emotionally and mentally are important aspects in her life. “I allow myself to change and to think about what it is I want in life. And what it is I like, love, dislike or hate. I always want to give myself room to grow into the woman I am destined to be.”
Hannah’s passion and aspiration for writing started at a young age. She’d write in journals “a lime green one with an extremely cheap lock” to be exact. Even on days when she had nothing to say, she would write. Each day, every word made her fall more in love with poetry and expressing herself the best way she knew. “In 8th grade, I remember writing a poem about how much I didn’t like church and I ironically performed it in church. I thought I was gutsy.”
Hannah’s writing is inspired by her experiences. Although the journey of writing is sometimes difficult for her due to anxiety or pressure. Hannah is encouraged by her goal.
“Knowing that my material may help women like myself motivates me.”
The future was an important conversation for Hannah. This wasn’t just her future but that of black women. She expressed the need for conversations regarding mental health and general happiness to be normalized. “it’s almost taboo. It is one of those things people have just started talking about. More conversations need to be encouraged and accepted.”
To conclude Hannah’s story on the Feature Future series, we had to speak on a subject that is close to her heart & ours- Literature.
Literature has so power and an inevitable impact. Hannah is a testament to the impact and use of literature. Many women are part of this revolution such as Maya Angelou. Ms. Angelou’s words have been an inspiration to Hannah.
“Maya Angelou’s ‘Letters to my daughter’ saved my life. This book literally feels like a hug to me. I first read it in high school. And I told myself that I want my first book to make my readers feel like I felt.”
Hannah’s determined character kept her true to those words. She wrote her first book, ‘For Girls Growing into Their Hips’ which is set to release Fall 2017. ‘For Girls Growing into Their Hips’ is a poetry collection about the growth into womanhood. The book can be separated into 4 sections; Love, survivor, renovation and celebration.
An excerpt from the book is a poem titled ‘Testimonial’
“Every trial reaps a testimony
Every heartache is a hallelujah
Ask me if I know of victory
I’ll tell you,
Witness this body and
Behold a miracle no
Behold this narrative
Witness a masterpiece
Hannah is a feature of the future. We hope her words and a glimpse of her life inspires you in someway.
Details on the release of Hannah’s book “For Girls Growing into Their Hips” will be posted on Forgotten Magic as soon as possible.