A brand-new film on Black love and joy
Written by Shatara Jordan
“When A Poet Loves” is a short film created by Shatara Jordan. The project is devoted to celebrating Black love and joy, and to provoking conversations about love and its ability to heal humanity. The representation of Black love and poetry hardly gets its light in the media, so a piece like this should serve as a platter of healing and enlightenment for those with an admiration for what the production has to offer. The film is finished and set to release in 2023. Updates can be found via Instagram @whenapoetloves.film.
Black love movies with an element of poetry have always ended up as classics. A few of the most popular classics are “Love Jones” and “Poetic Justice.” Movies like these,however, are in a small category of representation for Black love, poetry, or both combined. Black stories in the media tend to be more saturated with distorted portrayals of Black people according to the Washington Post article, “News media offers consistently warped portrayals of black families, study finds.” Some might argue that a film like “Love Jones” was ahead of its time, considering it didn’t do so well in the box office. Today has never been a better time for Black love stories and poetry to have its light in the media. The “America’s Got Talent” season 15 winner was Brandon Leake, who is the first spoken word poet to win, making him a part of Black poetry history. Amanda Gorman received international recognition for reading her poetry at the 2021 presidential inauguration. She is the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history, and another poet contributing to Black history. As of 2022, the Grammy Awards has given spoken word poetry its own category. The world is beginning to see how influential poetry is.
The intersection between Black love stories and artistic mediums is also making its way into the media, with Netflix movies like “Entergalactic” and “Really Love.” The Black community is tired of watching films that depict our struggles, and want to see more love, joy and triumphs. This was the purpose of “When A Poet Loves.” The film has received over $5,000 in match funding thanks to the IOBY Cuyahoga Arts & Culture Match Fund. Brandon Leake, who also contributed to the film’s production, was interviewed on his perspective of love to help me further develop some of the film’s poetry.
The creation of “When A Poet Loves” took six drafts, not including smaller revisions right before the start of production. I took the liberty of interviewing over 20 men on their perception of love, so I could accurately write from the perspective of the male protagonist. Some of my favorite quotes from the interviews were:
“If you pay too much attention to someone it’ll annoy you, but not with this person,”
“It’s like being in ecstasy,”
“Is the worst part of myself what I allow her to see?”
Working with the cast and crew was amazing. Everyone was committed and patient throughout the process, and film production is not easy! It’s always good to work with other artists who see the value in the art you’re trying to make.
The two protagonists are played by Ma’Lon Smith and myself. The phenomenal supporting characters are played by Lexa Lenae and Chanda Bynum. The film was beautifully captured by cinematographer Trent Naylor. The creation of this project took a little over a year, and I’m excited to show a piece that portrays an intertwining of Black love and poetry. I noticed in movies like “Love Jones” and “Poetic Justice” that only one of the characters was a poet, and throughout both movies we only hear a few poems. Inspired by these classic motion pictures, I wanted to create a story where both love interests were poets, and poetry was more frequent throughout the film.
I hope for people to take away how powerful and influential love can be, even through the ups and downs of it all. I also hope this film gives people the chance to consume poetry in a way they haven't before. I truly believe that poetry is one of those artforms that can be impactful and received in more than just traditional writing. This film is for the Black community, the poetry community, and anyone who believes in the uniting, healing and evolving power of love.
Here are some poetry pieces inspired by the characters and story, written by myself: :
How hard would you fight for love?
How hard would you fight for love?
Everything in this world is a battle
But how much is love worth?
Expensive as one can imagine
You choose the cost
It is not love alone that makes it valuable
But what it comes with
Trust, patience, and understanding
Are only a few jewels among it that make love such a treasure
She screams savage through her softness
Whatever she wrecks shall woo her if it’s to bring her bliss
Crack under her cuddles she uses to cradle you
Her name is Lexa
She’ll love you like how fire burns
His name is Mason
He was a breathing dream
Driven by desire
Desired by she
And she, shifted his soul
He was a shipment of souls swimming for safety
Wondering which self swam in the right direction
Because he knows what it’s like to drown
He is the complexity of charm
Alarming and the star we can’t stop wishing on
She stares at a cold hearted microphone
It glistens off her eyes
She blinds herself
This is Isabella
Sometimes struggling to speak
Sometimes struggling to see
Sometimes struggling to sing through her heart
She holds onto hope
Like how she holds onto happy ever afters
Welcome back to our poetry slam!
My name is Chanda, I’ll be your host!
Hoarding the shackles in my spark
I’m here to make you smile after a long day of being alive
Who wouldn’t want to take off their life for another one if it means you get to feel just a
little bit happier?
I’ll be your portal to another dimension
Destination, a reality check
Poetry isn’t limited to what you always thought it was