By Abby Weingarten
Snousha Glaude ’12 published her first book in December, soon after returning to Orlando from a life-changing trip to Haiti. Entitled Sometimes It Rains: Poems on Liberation and Rebirth, the collection is about identity, self-discovery and cultural dialogue—issues at the forefront of a racially-charged, mid-pandemic America.
“In today’s world, race, gender, status and ability are increasingly hot topics that fuel a #CancelCulture movement and polarization,” Glaude wrote about the book. “Many would like to engage meaningfully with neighbors, relatives and colleagues. Instead, they navigate shallowly to avoid being offensive. This collection of poetry documents the emotional rollercoaster that arises when we ask, ‘Who am I?’”
Glaude is someone who is not afraid to ask this question. She has been adventurously learning about herself, other people and the earth for years, whether it is through climbing trees in foreign countries or engaging in performative art in her hometown. Through all of her artistic and scientific pursuits, the New College alumna has promoted new ways of living consciously and sustainably—and the current shifts in society are inspiring her to create even more.
“I’m hopeful that people right now begin to see beyond just this momentum and look into allocating energy that uplifts people,” Glaude said. “We especially need to uplift creative people.”
When Glaude was a New College student, she and other creatives uplifted each other by sharing poetry at library read-ins, coordinating events for Black History Month, and later participating in fundraisers with NeBodied Entertainment started by Miles Iton ’14). Glaude was also involved in organizations like the STOP student activist group and the Food Not Bombs anti-hunger movement.
“I was always engaging with radical thinkers that already had it in their hearts to be empathetic toward humanity,” Glaude said.
A year before she graduated in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts, Glaude embarked on an internship at Yerba Buena Farm in Jamaica, and she took cues from the way people there lived, ate and interacted.
“The West Indian spices, vegan lifestyle, endless fruit, secret tonics and dancehall riddims renewed my health and supercharged my spirit,” she said of the experience, which led her to begin a plant-based cooking journey of her own.
In August, Glaude volunteered in Haiti in the middle of a black liberation movement, and the artistically-energized activism empowered her.
“Haitian artists are leading a lot of movements and they continuously inspire me in terms of character,” Glaude said. “Racism is real in Haiti and there’s so much corruption in the government, but people are still able to make gains. Being there changed my expectations of what type of lifestyle and basic human rights we should have in the U.S.”
Being in the U.S. now, Glaude is ultra-cognizant of mental and spiritual health, and she stays this way by monitoring everything that goes into her body and mind—an especially important practice during trying times.
“I haven’t been watching the news lately. I haven’t been reading articles about race. Sometimes it seems like, if you’re black, you should just be writing about racism. And what kind of miserable life is that?!,” Glaude said. “It’s really important that you create art that sustains you, that your voice is being heard in ways that validate your identity outside of race. While I do touch on race a lot in my writing, there are so many other topics that I think people relate to.”
When Glaude does want to talk about race, she takes it to the classroom as a Black AF Virtual High School Science Teacher for Making Us Matter. The organization is designed to provide families with “an alternative choice to engage in schooling that decenters whiteness, dismantles anti-blackness and humanizes students.”
“The program is awesome. It’s kind of like saying every student deserves a black teacher, which I think is true,” Glaude said. “The content I teach is about looking at the temporal timeline of the transatlantic slave trade. But that is scaffolded with the growing of plants, so we’re looking at soil and how it’s a living organism. And then we’re talking about environmental racism and current issues with climate change, and how we can use plants to remediate a lot of those things.”
Using plants to increase health, improve air quality and combat climate change are great passions of Glaude’s. She has a background in biology and chemistry, and she is fascinated by the cellular aspect of food and its anti-inflammatory properties. She has also worked in spine and pain management, and is a Haitian Kreyol medical interpreter. And last Tuesday, she received her official designation as a certified arborist (tree doctor) from the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). All of these pursuits are grounded in Glaude’s drive to make the world around her healthier, greener and greater.
“I feel like I have the capacity to engage and really help people right now, and I’m always thinking, ‘How am I going to use that energy?,’” Glaude said. “I will say New College provided the lens for me to even aspire toward certain things that weren’t ever modeled for me growing up. I didn’t know that there were so many different ways to navigate the world, and I would have never been adventurous to pursue what I have pursued without that.”
For more information on Glaude’s work, visit heysnousha.com
For more information on Glaude’s new book, visit amazon.com/Sometimes-Rains-Snousha-Glaude-ebook/dp/B083757NVC/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8
And here is one of her poems from Sometimes It Rains:
As I watched his lips part and eyelids sag,
I realized he was falling asleep.
My mind was powered by bubbles being propelled in every direction.
It was not yet ready to say goodnight.
So we began stretching,
releasing all drowsiness from the folds of our bodies.
Breaching the sky.
Stretching past the atmosphere.
Collecting stars in pockets belonging to our hands.
Twirling God’s hair between hesitant fingers,
fearful of unintentionally challenging his divinity.
Releasing our grip of His kinky locs.
Returning stars to their respective homes within the galaxy.
Shimmying down to reality.
Relieving burns in moist, black terra.
Reminding ourselves that being down to Earth means much more than grating ginger for
Our arms chased quarters and chickens,
replaced levers with labor.
We stretched and stretched and breathed.
When it was all said and done,
we had realized the flexibility of loving one another.
Abby Weingarten is the editor/writer in the Office of Communications & Marketing.