With “Cape Verdean Blues,” author Shauna Barbosa is breathing new and modern life into the art of poetry. The latest body of work highlights what it means to be multi-cultural hyphenate; with Barbosa being Boston-born, growing up with one African-American parent and one Cape Verdean parent, her experiences are layered and appeal to a whole new generation of young people who also identify as such.
“Initially, the book was titled ‘The Genetics of Leaving,’” Barbosa told OkayAfrica about the inspiration of the book’s title. “There's actually a poem in the book called ‘The Genetics of Leaving.’ It's about that initial time when an African, when any foreigner, when my grandmother left Cape Verde to come to America and start this life. There's a lot of leaving and there's a lot of going back and forth and there's a lot of reaching over these seas for people that you love and even just longing and reaching to stay connected to a culture that you know you can call yours, and making sure that you bring that with you.”
“After I started putting my poems together, I'm like ‘oh my god, I write a lot about identity, about my black experience, my Cape Verdean experience.’ It was just all there and I just felt like there's an inherited trauma. I believe that there's inherited leaving.”
Her debut is solidifying itself as a classic piece of literature—it was nominated for the Open Book Award at the 2019 PEN Literary Awards. “I just feel blessed to have been able to gather all of these different images and ideas to tell a story,” she said. “We all want to tell a story.”