‘Hunger made me’, reveals one speaker in Ripe, and the desire to be satiated fills these poems. Desperate women hide grains of rice in their hair, baked beans evoke a strained father-daughter relationship, plantains endure the fire. Yet hunger takes many forms, as the risks and rewards of its satisfaction are weighed, and cravings for intimacy are charged with danger. ‘When we’re born, we’re someone else’s’, but in this daring exploration of identity and survival, we hear a thrilling new voice come into its own.
Isabelle Baafi is a writer and poet from London. She was the winner of the 2019 Vincent Cooper Literary Prize, and was shortlisted for the 2019 Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition. Her work has been published in The Poetry Review, Anthropocene, Finished Creatures, and harana poetry, and has been anthologised by Verve Poetry Press, 20.35 Africa and The Caribbean Writer. She is a Board Member at Magma. You can read more about Isabelle on her website and follow her on Twitter.
Baafi’s poems read as daring and inventive signifiers, interrogating a myriad of complex subjects, and immersing readers in a world fortified with wit, curiosity, and unapologetic beauty. Throughout the pamphlet, her poetry tussles with the paradoxes, uncertainties, and anxieties of our current social climate; employing new and arresting forms, and infusing originality into her lines. Her writing invokes a sharp hybrid register, working to ensure an impressive display of ideas at both the word and sentence level.