by-: Janielle Browne
Third place winner in the 2021 Ellsworth “Shake” Keane / UWI Open Campus Poetry Competition
I wish I could say something cliche
Like I am the Phoenix rising from the ashes
But it’s never been that simple.
I am the volcanic ash—
I am everywhere.
I am the fist in your chest,
The crack in your voice
The speck in your eye
The burn in your lungs.
I am layered
Way more depth than you can imagine
One false move and I will sink you
You will slip and slide and fall for me
And I will consume you.
The more you try to drive me out
The more I stick around
I will sit in your thoughts
Your children will tell stories about me.
Not only do I conquer
I create new lands
I am creator.
I strengthen that which was planted
That which you thought was stifled
Because I play by my own rules.
I don’t need your approval
Because I will outlast you all.
When the flames die out
And the Phoenix is yet to be rebirthed
The one thing that remains is the ashes.
Without me, there is no Phoenix
No narrative of hope or rising
And so I am the ashes
And I will outlast you all.
About Janielle Browne
Vincentian writer and poet, Janielle Browne is a 24-year-old who is passionate about her faith and the creative arts. She enjoys dancing, singing, theatre, painting, spoken word and literature as well as being involved in community work. After being awarded the UWI Open Scholarship, she completed a BA in Literatures in English with History at UWI Cave Hill Barbados Campus. She then went on to complete a Diploma in Education with the University of the West Indies.
Janielle started writing poetry at the age of 11 at which time she finished her first unpublished poetry collection. She has been published in the Antiguan magazine, IntersectAnu and has also edited academic and fictional works for regional as well as local clients. Known as the Weaver of Words, Janielle has been a finalist in multiple writing prizes such as the Nigel H. Thomas Fiction Prize, 2021 BCLF Elizabeth Nunez Prize for Writers in the Caribbean as well as for the Rhodes scholarship.
However, in 2019 she was named the winner in the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Independence Poetry Competition Open Category. Now a teacher at the Bishop’s College Kingstown Secondary School for over 2 years, she is dedicated to highlighting pertinent and unspoken issues in her work such as injustice, gender, and racial issues as well as abuse.