shakirah peterson


i’m a mother, poet, collagist, partner, jazz lover, daughter, photographer, sister, friend (in no particular order). all of these titles are reflected in my work. through deep study as an mfa candidate, i’ve grown immensely as an artist and learned to let my obsessions shine in whichever medium they prefer. family archives are a thread throughout my work. i love exploring how memory/capturing memories can transform my reality.

a sound collage

i  get so emotional

Artist Notes

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Transcript for i get so emotional by Shakirah Peterson

(jazz music begins, overlaps dialogue)
           Male voice: What’s up?
           Female voice: Nothing *laughter*
                           It doesn’t even really matter.
(music continues)
            Female voice: It doesn’t even really matter.
(tape clicks, rewinds. music continues)
(tape clicks, fast-forwards)
             Female voice: And what I’m here to say is…
(tape rewinds. music continues, overlaps dialogue)
             Female voice: Woah, I just get emotional cuz…
(tape fast-forwards)
             Male voice: Hello, hello, hello.
                           Hello, hello.
(tape clicks, music interrupted)
             Male voice: Hello, hello
(music continues)
             Female voice: I’m not sure why
(music continues, overlaps dialogue)
             Female voice: I just get emotional
             Male voice: Hello, hello, hello.
(tape clicks, fast-forwards. music continues)
             male voice: What’s up fam?
                         What you tryna tell me?
              Female voice: *chuckles* Nothing.
              Male voice: You tryna tell me something.
              Female voice: *chuckling continues* No I’m not.
                              *chuckling continues*
(tape fast-forwards)
               Female voice: Look, look.
                               Over here.
(music continues)
(baby coos reverberate)
                Male voice: I don’t know what’s going on right now.
(baby coos continue)
(music continues, overlaps dialogue)
                Male voice: What you tryna tell me?
                Female voice: I love you more.
                              Looking after one another.
(tape rewinds)
(music continues, overlaps dialogue)
                 Female voice: I love you more.
(tape fast-forwards)
(music continues, overlaps dialogue)
                 Female voice: I want you to know that you’ll be loved eternally.
(baby coos continue, reverberates till end)

black love is listening

shakirah peterson

“love makes us feel more alive. living in a state of lovelessness we feel we might as well be dead; everything within us is silent and still. we are unmoved…it echoes in the biblical declaration that ‘anyone who does not know love is still in death’.”
bell hooks, all about love


devastations and disturbances are buried in our dna. dungeons of em, dormant, til they ain’t. they say
you can hear em come alive on our vocal chords/centuries of groans and moans is what makes the bass and rasp in our tone. they say ain’t no cure for all that trauma and blame it for our mishaps and lapses in connection to one another but our music is both our magic and medicine. our instruments mimic the shakes of our vibratos, we make the sounds of drums and horns, strings and keys rise and fall to become surrogate for our failed words. they become life.

all it requires is that we listen.

shakirah peterson

shakirah peterson



shakirah peterson is an author, poet and multimedia artist based in Southern Louisiana/California. Her work has been supported by World Stage Press, Clarion West Writers Workshop, Hurston/Wright Foundation, Voices of Our Nation, Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora, amongst others. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Louisiana State University in 2022.


lately, i’ve been reading a lot of bell hooks, harmony holiday and james baldwin and listening to a lot of jazz musicians like pharoah sanders, alice/john coltrane, laraaji, ahmad jamal, etc. when my grandma and her sister passed, they left behind their record collections. i’ve spent the last 5 years grieving through the sounds they used to uplift them – jazz and blues musicians. these sounds have became an obsession. i feel an indescribable emotion when listening to these magicians make magic through their instruments. my recent work has centered on this emotion more or less, in attempt to not only show an appreciation of it but to continue to welcome it into my orbit.

Black Listening's website front page header art and Obsidian 49.2 cover art were  created by Nettrice Gaskins

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