I Don’t Write Pretty is the title of a book of poetry/confessions that I own. It is written by a beautiful woman named aulelei love. I don’t remember how I first stumbled upon aulelei, I think she was posting on a blog with some other writers. I believe she used to post on OKP, could have bumped into her there. What’s important is that I learned she had a book of poetry available and I ordered one. I kind of forgot about it after that. When it arrived, I wasn’t sure what it was. I didn’t know anyone in Alabama who would be sending me something.
I opened the package and found a hand-made book, a “collection of confessions” with a personal message written on the inside cover. Nice touch. I have had IDWP for four years now and I still pick it up every now and then. In fact, aulelei’s words hang on the wall of my living room instead of art or movie posters. Simple black frames hold excerpts from her poetry. Sometimes people look at them and tell me they don’t get it. I don’t explain. I should tell her that.
I subscribe to her MySpace blog. She used to post a lot of poems, but now she posts these sort of poetic stories about her children and husband. In college, I had to read a bunch of poetry, had to analyze it. I had/have a love affair with Nikki Giovanni. I, like most people, have tried to pen my own poems. Still, no one speaks to/for/with/about me like aulelei has. I get it. I get her. I should tell her that.
Maybe it’s because we’re both Scorpios. I wish I posessed the ability to look myself in the mirror and speak out loud about what I see the way she does. I should tell her that too. aulelei took on a photo project where she was taking pictures of herself so she could appreciate it all – the perfect imperfections. She inspired me to do the same. Unlike her, I am too chickenshit to post them for the world to see. I should tell her.
I have sat with a man with whom I was totally enamored and read her poetry to him. When I found out she was going to share her world on Def Poetry I was truly happy for her. She should know that stuff, too.
Right now, though, I am telling you. I am telling you that I am happy that I found someone to speak when I cannot. Someone whose work I really respect. Someone whose family can serve as a real model of life (the good, bad, ugly and beautiful) while mine is so royally fucked. I am telling you so that you can find some medium (art, words, music, movement, etc) through which you find familiarity and comfort. I am telling you so that you might decide you want to get to know her too or buy the book. Perhaps that way you’ll get to know a little more about me.
i don’t write pretty, this is more than just the title of a book. it is my definition. my song. the words that form every reason why i write. i don’t know how to write pretty. these words aren’t ingeniously crafted or patiently structured. they don’t do ballet across paper, because my words aren’t classically trained to mimic swans. these words are more like sweaty women with loose hips that lose themselves behind closed eyelids at dancehalls. women who move without thinking. without planning their next step. the women who fall off beat sometimes, but keep dancing.
their dance is more out of hope than talent.
& so is my writing.
someone once said to me,
“you’re never the hero in your words, but you’re always human.”
this book is human. i tried to trap everything that i am between these pages. so, understand, there will be mistakes. some of these words i couldn’t bring myself to proof read, afraid that if i did, i would end up erasing everything. see, this book contains a collection of journal entries. a collage of confessions. a photo journey towards trying to find beauty in my flaws, and beyond them. this book is me.
& i don’t write pretty, i write life
my name is aulelei love
& pretty ain’t got shit on me.
-from IDWP’s intro, “Understand”.
See, I picked up the book again and this is what happened! I’m such a groupie.