Skip Nav
Ways Men Can Support the Women's Movement
opinion
The Philogynist Pledge — 10 Ways Men Can Support the Women's Movement
Barack Obama Midterm Elections Voting Excuses Video For ATTN
Barack Obama
Allow Barack Obama to Explain Why There's No Excuse For Missing Midterm Elections
Op-Ed on Hillary Clinton and #MeToo
Opinion
Stop Making Women Answer For Abusive Men
Saturday Night Live
Alec Baldwin Returned as Trump on SNL, and of COURSE There Was a Kanye West Spoof
When We All Vote Early Voting PSA
Michelle Obama
As Early Voting Begins, Let Michelle Obama Remind You Why Your Vote Matters

Who Is Yrsa Daley-Ward?

Yrsa Daley-Ward Is Laying Her Pain Bare and Turning It Into Uplifting, Unconventional Poetry

From the outside looking in, the path to success in the literary world often seems to be signposted with educational milestones and well-placed contacts. Yrsa Daley-Ward's story is different, and that's just one reason it's so inspiring.

The 20-something author of the acclaimed poetry collection Bone hasn't had the most conventional journey to becoming a literary darling. Daley-Ward was born in London to a Jamaican mother and Nigerian father, and she didn't have the easiest childhood; she was raised by her grandparents in a small town in the north of England. And she made a conscious decision not to go to college.

Her mother's response: "You're wasting your brain." But Daley-Ward knew her path was heading in a creative direction, even if she didn't know exactly what that meant. "I did well at school, but that's not how I relate," she says. Although she had been writing from an early age and even wrote a novel at age 18, she wasn't sure if she would pursue writing or another form of storytelling, like theater or art.

The future poet worked as a fashion model in London before booking a one-way ticket to South Africa to make a fresh start. "When I moved to South Africa, I left London because I was just feeling like rubbish all the time and I didn't have any money," she remembers. "I didn't know what was going to happen. I didn't know what needed to change. I just needed something new." The "something new" she needed arrived in the form of a spoken word night at a Cape Town bar, which reignited her forgotten love of writing.

Despite taking an unconventional route to becoming a writer, Daley-Ward's journey led her to her calling, and what she's experienced during the unsettled moments of her life is what fuels her poetry and storytelling.

"Life is for living; it's vibrant, and there's a reason why we go forward and not back."

In 2014, Daley-Ward self-published her debut poetry collection, Bone, which deals poignantly with themes such as love, sexuality, mental health, and race. With Bone's recent reissue by Penguin Books, the buzz surrounding it only continues to grow. When I asked her why she thinks her writing resonates so deeply with its readers, she explained, "Let's be honest. We're all going through the same things: the same fears, the same rejection, toxic masculinity, growing, pain, patriarchy, feeling lost, issues with parents, issues with lovers, heartbreak. This is universal, that's why I think [it's relatable]."

The authenticity of Daley-Ward's writing has a lot to do with how she processes her pain. She shares that pain publicly — not just in book form but also on Twitter and Instagram, where she regularly debuts new work. Maybe the reason one of my colleagues keeps a copy of Bone on her desk and why many of my friends and I can recite verses by heart is because she's not afraid to delve into painful experiences, dissect them, and relegate them to the past.

"Of course, I'm not saying to delete everything [in your memory] because that's ridiculous," Daley-Ward says. "You wouldn't learn. Life is for living; it's vibrant, and there's a reason why we go forward and not back."

Taking an unconventional path is nothing new to Daley-Ward, so it should come as no surprise that a few short years into her career, her next literary feat is a memoir. If readers thought she bared her soul through Bone, her memoir The Terrible (coming in June 2018) will be another lesson in how to fearlessly turn the pain of her past into uplifting prose. "I don't think I can be fearful of writing anything now after this," she says. "There's nothing that is more revealing."

Image Source: Courtesy of Nicole Nodland
From Our Partners
Little Girl Reciting Leaders For Black History Month
Ashleigh Murray's Beauty Routine
Kerry Washington's Most Memorable Outfits
TK Wonder and Cipriana Quann's Style
Who Is Zoey Martinson?
Who Is Sudan Archives?
Patrisse Cullors When They Call You a Terrorist Interview
Who Is Rosalyn Gold-Onwude?
Brother Vellies Fashion Designer Aurora James Interview
Who Is Jessamyn Stanley?
Angela Davis The Kitchenista Interview Feb. 2018
Kiera Please Cosplay
From Our Partners
Latest News
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds