It was in January 2012 when I finished Warrior-Poet: A Biography of Audre Lorde by Alexis De Veaux. At the time, I was in the last leg of getting my bachelor’s degree and it was bitterly cold. I remember walking to work in thermals, my clothes, a pea coat and still feeling the fridge wind cut through me. I grew up in Boston but it was no longer my home. I was terribly lonely. Reading Audre Lorde’s biography awakened something in me. Reading her work and her life brought my existence into focus. It clarified for me the importance of my own story.

I started to write. The poems flowed from me easily. I never considered myself an artist or a writer. But it was like someone flipped a switch in my mind and suddenly it was all I could do. The writing eased my loneliness. The writing gave me direction, purpose. I felt like I was actually doing something. I made love to my rage each night and out of it was born beauty.

The poems in this volume are the distillations of my experience. They are brewed from struggles, my triumphs and the community that surrounds me. They are drawn from the movement of my thoughts, the tide of my feelings. These poems are an extension of my being. And that is what makes them so revolutionary. In a world that would happily erase me at best, committing my being to the written word ensures that they can’t. I exist, I am alive, and the words enclosed in this book prove it. These words are for girls like me, so that when they look, they can see themselves reflected. So that they know girls like us have existed, exist now and will forever exist.

Poetry, firmly rooted in the present,  looks into the past and points a way to our future. It gives us new visions of what our world and our lives can be. It gives us the framework to imagine new realities. It gives us the ability to think outside of our current experience. It is ecstatic, dynamic and living. In many ways it is a conversation between the poet and the reader. The meaning changes depending on what the reader brings. And it is that conversation that can form new futures.

Poetry is a gift and it saved my life. I am so excited to share this with you. Know that some of the poems here will be challenging. They may hurt your feelings. And that’s ok. Some of the poems may be triggering so take care of yourself. They may also give you new knowledge, a different insight into the world around you. They will open your eyes and give you a glimpse into who I am.

To the girls like me who are reading this, welcome home.