Locating Strongwoman is an embodiment of the fact that strength can and most often does exist in ordinary living—away from a podium or the fabricated perfection that is sold to us as womanhood. These poems speak to unperformed living—the joy and the searching, the falling and the failing, silence as language, the learning and unlearning of our conditioning and the triumph of inhabiting everything that we are without apology as the ultimate epitome of strength.
“This is a book filled with want, love and the lack thereof, LOCATING STRONGWOMAN is visceral and raw, vulnerable and strong. It will leave you thinking and feeling long after you turn its last page”
Peter Kahn, author of Little Kings and co-editor of The Golden Shovel Anthology: New Poems Honouring Gwendolyn Brooks.
“Through Locating Strongwoman, Tolu Agbelusi hosts a black women’s sleepover. It is a trace of our mothers’ silences and the inevitable release of our own voices. How wonderful it is to find yourself, over and over in poetry!”
vangile gantsho, author of red cotton and undressing in front of the window & co-founder of impepho press
“It really is a stunning piece of work. I didn’t know what to expect when l bought the book as l always felt poetry was too difficult to understand. But Tolu’s ‘Strongwoman’ surprised me with its heat, its fire and a few ‘Whaat’ moments. Its exploration and confrontations of love, sensuality, family duty, masculinity and gender, and even, oddly enough, careers, made me think and ultimately rejig some notions l had about these universal themes. This is an important and thoroughly engrossing piece of work. Loved it”
Abidemi Sanusi, author of Looking for Bono, Eyo and other books.
“For those of us who hear the word ‘strong’ and feel our hackles rise, this collection offers an opportunity to reconsider the meaning and reclaim the word. These poems are a reminder of the quiet strength of women, and the strength we may not always recognise as such, but one that we call upon, time and time again, both for ourselves and in service of others.Strongwoman is an homage to womanhood, sisterhood, motherhood, and daughter-hood. It interrogates the lies we are told and the lies we tell ourselves, and softly dares us to speak our truths.
The poems in this collection, to my mind at least, can only be described as visceral; they are keenly felt- caught in the throat, a shiver down the spine, or a firm shaking of your shoulders, willing you awake, demanding you look yourself in the eye, confront those demons, and return to yourself. And behind those words is the occasional wink, a wry smile to remind you that we are all in this together, that no one knows women like other women, and that sisterhood is, in itself, a gift.”
Tasnim of Reads and Reveries, Bookstagrammer