New from Malawian storyteller and author of soft magic, Upile Chisala, comes a sweet, tender, and powerful reminder of self-worth, resilience, and flowering into the honeyed, delicious, and loved being you have always been. Nectar is a love letter to women and women of color, one that is gentle yet strong in its desire to remind you to sow the seeds of change and bloom despite the hurt.
Deeply rooted in overcoming generational trauma, Nectar speaks to coming to terms with the past and shedding the limiting mindsets and learned behaviors that don’t serve us anymore. Chisala especially talks about the relationships between mother and daughter—what mothers pass on to their daughters and what that weight feels like. She acknowledges the hurt that can come from witnessing a marriage or relationship without romance and wondering how your own life will differ from the one you are supposed to learn from. But we don’t have to carry the weights our mothers did, she says.
“I am sorry you watched your mother crawl out of
Her pride for a man who only half loved her.”
We can walk a new path.
“When will mothers stop having to pray
“God, please make my daughters stronger than me?”’
Her desire to find healing and to uproot these traumatic parts of her family lineage is a powerful act of self-love and restoration of the self. Her poems could be read as a guided meditation for anyone seeking to break the bonds of generational oppression and be reminded of their own worth and value.
Chisala also confronts rage and anger, especially the kind that is put on us by other people.
“I no longer accept anger that is not meant for me.
If you come here heavy with fury that I had no part in,
please know that my hands won’t take it.
I refuse, entirely, to be where you store your rage.”
She also addresses how women and girls are often taught to be silent and keep their words to themselves. Through her poems, she references the tongue and the importance of releasing our words and feelings so that you aren’t stuck with them inside us.
“In time, you will learn to untangle the tongue,
To face the truth that’s been living in your throat.”
The use of the word “honey” through the poetry collection takes on a magical life of its own, as Chisala assigns it multiple definitions and meanings. Sometimes it is used as a term of endearment, “Honey, you need to say the thing before it forms a storm in your chest.” Or an expression of love, “You honey my world.” She also uses it as a way to understand loss as she seeks healing, “Who offers you honey when you need it?”
Honey is the sweetness you cling to while reading this book. It is the hope you need. Honey is Chisala’s soft reminder of the joy that is coming and the beautiful life you deserve.