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Kai-Isaiah Jamal Browns ‘Somewhere, We Dance Forever’
Kai-Isaiah JamalCourtesy of Browns

Watch Kai-Isaiah Jamal recite two intimate poems for World Poetry Day

In partnership with Browns, the Dazed 100er celebrates the joy of dance

Kai-Isaiah Jamal often shares parts of his writing online, usually coming in the form of a picture of his open notebook. But now he wants to find a new medium for people to access his work. In celebration of World Poetry Day (March 26), Browns has partnered up with Jamal, creating an intimate and joyous video to illustrate S is for skin and G is for grip, two of the Dazed 100-ers latest poems. 

With the project entitled ‘Somewhere, We Dance Forever’, Jamal wrote these poems during his transition, when he started to experience a completely new lease of life in regards to how he “moved, felt, and lived” inside his body. 

“What drew me to this project was the need to document this new feeling,” Jamal explains. “There are so many times in which I have to change my presentation of my body and my movements for safety, passing, access but when I dance I forget about gender, I completely disregard the notions of what my body should be, because we defy it in movement constantly.”

“When I dance I forget about gender, I completely disregard the notions of what my body should be” – Kai-Isaiah Jamal

The video sees Jamal in a number of different locations – leaning on a kitchen counter writing in a notebook, sitting on the edge of a bathtub, and frolicking under a bed sheet. Shot in soft light, the four minute clip goes on to see Jamal move and dance to the lyrics of his verse.  

“Where I’m from they stamp feet and skank while speakers stumble sirens,” the poem reads. “Samples into the street light, where all black boys look blue under the moonlight.” 

With the poems focusing on the concepts of skin and grip, Jamal explains how these two things relate to how we live in our own bodies and explore other peoples. “Skin has felt very genderless or more gender non-specfic,” he says, while grip was a “way to start exploring my body in relation to others.” 

With an aim to create something that “wasn’t just about black trans bodies and the proximity to violence or pain,” the video, directed by Emily McDonald and worked on by a largely LGBTQ+ team, is a celebration of movement and freedom, a concept that is feeling more and more poignant each day. 

“I hope people can finally see why I am always continually banging on at everyone about language, talking, writing, letters, storytelling and documentation,” he says. “For me poetry is just a little safety net and if everyone can find that in a poem that’s ideal but I hope my work acts as that for some at least.”

Watch ‘Somewhere, We Dance Forever’ below and tune in to Dazed Beauty’s Instagram at 6:30 pm today (March 26) to watch Dazed Beauty’s Editor Nellie Eden talk to Kai-Isaiah Jamal on identity, self-expression, and his new visual poem.