On Fatherhood: A conversation with Simon

Yomi Ṣode shares the final instalment in a series of visuals emerging from his much-lauded debut poetry collection, Manorism.

Manorism is a poetry collection that explores the lives of Black British men/boys. It’s a collection of poems that I’ve been wanting to write for a long time. 

When the time arrived to discuss promo for the book, I knew I wanted visuals that could last beyond a campaign. I wanted to create visual pieces for reflection and discussion. Reading is not for everyone, I get that, and as a writer/artist, I want these themes to be as accessible in as many ways as possible; these things are important to me. I give thanks to the PRH marketing team for trusting an alternative approach to just speaking about the book. 

The third visual in the Manorism campaign (you can watch the first two here and here) is a conversation with a close friend, Simon, who I’ve known since I was 11 years old. Years down the line, we are adults and we are fathers. There’s a poem in the book called ‘Proximity to Death’. It’s a multi-layered poem that explores masculinity, ego and fear of death. It asks how much pride can be set aside now, knowing that we are fathers, and whether walking away is for the greater good.

April 2021 saw the unwarranted murder of Michael Olatunde Fadayomi, a father who attended to the distress of his son being attacked outside of a bus stop. As a father, this hits home. I thought back to when I was called out on the street by a boy way younger than me. Everything in me wanting to respond, but also knowing that I’m a dad now. It’s not that easy when you have everything to lose, especially when the other has everything to gain. My conversation with Simon was one of ‘bro, how do we survive this?’

One of the main things that surfaced was the fact that of all the things we have experienced together through the years, this conversation was the first time we had spoken about it. It was always easier to plan for the next rave and internalise the trauma, even though we witnessed a fight, and in some cases a murder. As men, we just never spoke about it deeper than we needed to. I remember parts of the conversation where we laughed it off, but really none of it was funny. This world that may sound chaotic to others was the norm for us, something we never considered getting out of, but that our bodies were always prepared for. Not death, but something ensuring that we shouldn’t be all the way comfortable.

Lastly, as fathers, there is the conflict in knowing that we wouldn’t want our children to experience what we experienced, but also we wouldn’t want them to walk blindly, knowing how cruel this world can be. The manor has aged us, and from our discussion, it was clear that we wanted our kids to enjoy the ages they are at, without society altering that.  

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08.08.22
منسقة العدد: عندَما نَحكِي قِصَّة فلسطين، مَن ننسى؟