Thunder Bay

Seeing the world through the eyes of a Black woman: Thunder Bay writer shares her experiences in new poetry book

A writer in Thunder Bay, Ont., hopes her new book of poetry will give people a glimpse of what it’s like to be Black woman in Canada.

'Spectrum' explores identity, race, relationships and diaspora of Black people around the world

Annette Pateman, of Thunder Bay, Ontario, is the author of Spectrum, a book of poetry examining identity, race and relationships. (Supplied by Annette Pateman )

A writer in Thunder Bay, Ont., hopes her new book of poetry will give people a glimpse of what it's like to be Black woman in Canada.

The collection, by Annette Pateman, is called Spectrum both for the range of issues it explores - identity, race, relationships and the diaspora of Black people around the world - and for the variety of skin tones across the planet. 


Many of the poems are based on events she's experienced in her daily life, or comments she's received on her skin colour or her hair.

"Often these experiences, for Black people, will come out of left field like that. You might be sitting, having a cup of tea and somebody will just say something," Pateman said.

In one poem, she shares how a friend "felt it was appropriate to say 'You're not too dark Annette, you're not too light, you're just right really."

"In other words, your colour does not offend me, that was the way it was posed," said Pateman, who was born in the United Kingdom to Jamaican parents.

The incident happened years ago, she said, but she never forgot how someone looked at her skin "as though it were a coat to put on and take off."

Pateman writes as a way to work through and process incidents like that.

"It is very cathartic for me to write poetry, I find it very therapeutic"

Pateman has been watching the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement and demonstrations since George Floyd was killed on May 25, when a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

She believes poetry offers a safe way for people to "go on a journey" and "build awareness of what it would be like to experience life as a Black person, in my case a Black woman."

Pateman hopes her words will give people a better understanding of "the humanity of us as people."

"We are human beings and that might seem like a very odd thing to say but I think when you don't know any Black people or if you only take this in through a television program that you've seen, or a poster that you've seen or some music you've listened to, you might have a very one-dimensional view of Black people."

Her goal is to show "we are human, we have fears and hopes and dreams just like everyone else."

Pateman's book is available directly from her at annettepateman@yahoo.co.uk  It is also available at Amazon and will soon be on the  shelves at Chapters/Indigo bookstores.

You can hear the full interview with Pateman on CBC's Superior Morning here.

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