Yrsa Daley-Ward’s bone was created from years of love, fear, frustration and lessons.
The former model re-released the book last September, after putting it out independently in 2014. Now, with more poems that touch the heart, question societal norms and talk about the complexity of sexuality, she has a book of great depth.
“I was brought into the world, with this really strict religion, and where I spent my formative years, which is what shapes us all,” Daley told ESSENCE about her upbringing. “Everything, even poems, about love and sex and everything else and sexuality —that’s what’s going to be the undercurrent because that’s the earliest memory.”
From a small, working-class White town in the UK, Daley-Ward came from Jamaican-Nigerian roots. Raised by a single mother and grandparents who lived nearby, her early interest in the arts was through singing. She lost her father as a child and her mother passed away later in her life, leaving her to seek clarity. After running off with an older man and working as a jazz singer and model, she finally found solace in South Africa.
She got into poetry after living in Cape Town doing spoken word nights at a local club.
Years later and the little girl raised in the strict Seventh-Day-Adventist home is now a feminist world traveler with 123,000 followers on Instagram and a book called “a symphony of breaking and mending” by her good friend and poet, nayyirah waheed.
“There’s something about knowing that you’re not alone in this world and we’re all connected by this emotion, feeling and the expression. [It’s] deeply healing to anybody feeling as though other people share these experiences and that we are all somewhat connected,” she said.
“That’s really … knowing that, and being able to do it, and be a catalyst, and then experiencing it when I read other writer’s work other artist’s work, is just such a wonderful feeling. And it helps me feel safe in the world, and connected.”