The Dance


The seduction imposed on us by vibrant reminiscence
can drag us into the despair of continuous repetition of sad memories,

just as easily as it can lead us…

into the highest triumph of freely creating a new counter-gesture: the dance.

From then on, our movements become lighter than air,
ethereal gestures into space, away from all heaviness.

Rhythm, cadence, syncopation reach ear and eye,
and man is unobtrusively dragged back into the very beginning of his existence,
together with others he undergoes a common regression.

Close your eyes and see.

I’m dancing, dance with me. Dance with my children.

we know the truth,

shila iris


The Mis-Education of Shila Iris


…and before I knew it, I was spending many of my Friday nights studying, Hip Hoppin,’ and gyrating-vibrating aka dancing. Give it up, give it all!!! I surrender, dear Shila, to You!

I’m so in Love with Her. I am at peace with Her. Gotta keep freeing her mind, each and every second of every day. The intent is real. Lonely’s the only other company, meaning, She is the Love no other Love can Be [insert Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite].

It is so stimulating to exercise the cranium, thus changing yourself, and then the world, the air you breathe, and the energy around You.

Your oppressor cannot educate You. Trust. I Know. Study and listen, and then we can move coherently. How you gonna change the world for My People when you know nothing about them?

Come closer,

Shi la I ris

Let these truths be your spiritual foundation.

2020 Vision: Read… study … know … enter … Before Christ…


Flashy car, fancy house and clothes… a pocket full of cash… a crowd around you to validate your worth… but what really is your worth when you know nothing of the history of your people and you don’t recognize the voices of your ancestors? You only know the voices of the ones paying you and training you to stay subservient and numb.

Who are you?

6000 years Before Christ (B.C.), where were your people and what were they doing? It’s been written. It’s been told by Us Afrikans in many wonderful texts. Your ancestors loved you so much, they wrote the history on the pyramid walls and tablets so that you wouldn’t forget. Kmt. Kemet. Nubia. Ta Seti. Sudan, then Ethiopia. You’d better read. 2020 Vision. Go back and fetch your history because the past is the future is the now. Everything is everything.

Peace and love,

Shila Iris

My Introduction to Nikki Giovanni


black-history_feb-12_copyright-shila-iris-2017Storytelling has been an African tradition for a very long time. Our ancestors used stories to record history and to communicate important messages through generations. Poetry is the method I use to tell stories, and this is the woman who made me believe that it could be done. Poetry can change minds, change hearts, lead to soul revivals; it has a place on the streets, in politics, in music, up high, down low, poetry is a tool we use to transcend. Back in 2005, I heard Nikki speak in the wonderful Jubilee Hall on the campus of her and my Alma Mater, Fisk University. She was amazing, with her candid interpretations of life, or should I say, thug life! Check out the tattoo on her left forearm. I can’t believe that Nikki Giovanni is 73 years old. Her name sounds like she is fashion designer, but she is indeed a game changer who has tried to help us recover from having our culture stolen. With her pages of accolades, she has been a fighter and a major voice. With her words of wisdom and ability to communicate with people from all walks of life, she has helped us fight against the deeply-rooted injustices targeted at people of African descent. She is more than a writer, she uplifted the Black Experience and taught it to many generations of young minds. My favorite piece from her is an essay named Gemini, in a book also named Gemini. She speaks about her first 25 years as a Black poet, and in this particular essay, she talks about the relationship between Black men and women. Looking back on it, I can see things a bit clearer. I am grateful. Prophetic poetry is a part of our Black history. Thanks Nikki, for paving a way. Peace.

I really adore you,

Shila Iris

Mask Cropped

My Introduction to James Baldwin


black-history_feb-9_copyright-shila-iris-2017As a child, when tough times fell on my family, I became an avid reader. At the age of 8, I was visiting the library, checking out the thickest and heaviest novels I could carry. I would read just about anything, as long as it kept me occupied. Browsing the shelves of the African-American Literature section, I often saw James Baldwin’s name, but for some reason, I avoided his books. I did this for a long time, and didn’t take an interest in his writing until I was in my 30s. I kept hearing his name in the art community, both locally and nationally- it turned out, he inspired many people.

One day, I was visiting my oldest sister and she had a copy of one of his books in her purse. I inquired and she said that he is her favorite writer. I said, well that’s enough. I am going to have to read one of the three Baldwin books I have at home! Yes, I had gone as far as purchasing his books, but still never read them. Giovanni’s Room was my choice. I was pleased. I will read many others. The way he brings the Black experience to life, and the way he isn’t afraid to discuss what conformists think are the “darkest” parts of our existence, is what makes his writing so attractive. He is the voice inside of our heads.
And, that’s all I have to say!

Thank you for coming here,

Shila Iris


My Introduction to Malcolm X





Working on the “invisible” me so that the “visible” me can be better. 


Like the Sun, I rise. poetry… coming soon.

Shila Iris

Saul Williams for National Poetry Month @MOCA


Use poetry to tap into your ROOTs.
Let the true spirit of your ancestors, shine through.

Our people were scattered into the desert, across the sea, over and away from their homeland; and they have forgotten how to recognize themselves.  We will wake up.  -shila

I am an artist with a mission. That mission is to always be about uplifting people of African descent, and to be instrumental in the restoration of our true identity. This is why artists like Saul Williams inspire me:

“I am the streets
The white lines only separate me from me
You hydroplane in false god’s name and still crash into me
Sign and tree; mountainside; guard rail; into the sea
They thought they stole you from my arms then carried you to me
Here’s the key: DNA encoded in a beat
White rocks in a vial, nigga, ain’t got nothin’ on me
Bitch I’m free, ask these editors at MTV
Far as they know, they’re publishing some new school poetry
Let it be
Cause even that will do to turn the key
Doorways into other worlds, the truth shall set you free
You are me, I am you, but also I’m he
Shepherd of a bastard flock that grazes in the streets… ”

– from DNA by S.W.

Every day, I am a poet. I have been writing since I was 7.
Sometimes my words rhyme, but most often I use free verse.
From free verse, came the rise of spoken word poetry.
Many artists have chosen this form as their primary means of communicating.
Try it. It can be quite liberating.


If you are in Northeast Ohio, tomorrow, April 15, Saul Williams will be reading at MOCA and then performing at the Grog Shop. If you attend the MOCA event for $12, you can get into the Grog for $10.  Of course advance purchases are better, because you save a few dollars. Check him out. I’ve seen him at least 4 times, in different cities, and I really dig him because each performance is different. He is fully committed and true to his art form and that is admirable.


Peace and love.  I am OSiRis RiSinG

Black History Month Library Displays




Big Books Display





Black History Month Library Displays





How Stevie Wonder Helped Create Martin Luther King Day




Stevie Wonder’s song, Happy Birthday, was one of the forces responsible for rallying support to make Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday a national holiday. This is a very important part of history that is sometimes overlooked. Art has often influenced political change. There were many people who fought alongside Martin, including artists, even after his death. I’d like to remember other social activists of that time, and some who came after. When I think of Martin, I think of many names including: EL HAJJ MALIK EL SHABBAZZ MALCOLM X CORETTA SCOTT KING MARTIN DELANEY LORRAINE V HANSBERRY NAT KING COLE CONSTANCE BAKER MOTLEY ROY WILKINS W.E.B. DUBOIS FRANTZ FANON JAMES FORMAN ELIJAH MUHAMMAD RICHARD WRIGHT RAY CHARLES JACKIE ROBINSON HARRY BELAFONTE ASA PHILIP RANDOLPH WHITNEY YOUNG JR JAMES B PARSONS OTIS M SMITH JAMES H MEREDITH KENNETH B CLARK FRED SHUTTLESWORTH MEDGAR W EVERS ROBERT C WEAVER LENA HORNE JAMES BALDWIN EDWARD J DWIGHT JR MUHAMMAD ALI BILL COSBY EDWARD KENNEDY DUKE ELLINGTON KWAME TURE STOKELY CARMICHAEL ARETHA FRANKLIN LANGSTON HUGHES JAMIL ABDULLAH AL AMIN H RAP BROWN THURGOOD MARSHALL GIL SCOTT HERON ELLA FITZGERALD ROBERT NESTA BOB MARLEY and finally, MARCUS GARVEY, who came before this time, but inspired every Black freedom fighter of the 20th Century. The story of this 3rd Monday in January, is very deep. So start digging! The answers can empower you. I am sure you have many other names to add to this list. Ase (Yoruba for, “it is so”)!

“If you are going to speak to the people, you gotta be the people.” –Chuck D

On December 12, 1963, two very important books were published:  Why We Can’t Wait, by Dr. King, and The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon, a Martinique-born psychiatrist. Both books made history. King’s book came about from his Letter from Birmingham Jail, written on April 16, 1963, and Fanon’s book was known as “the Bible of the oppressed.” These are books that every activists or American of African descent should read. They are enlightening and uplifting and help to pave the way. They are relevant to this day, this hour, and this moment.


Lastly, across the world, a lot of us attended MLK programs today. I really hope that we all took the time out to listen to the messages and reflect on our history. I’ve noticed that when I attend events, fewer people are concerned about internalizing the messages and taking notes so that we can create plans and blueprints. It seems that it is more about recording videos and taking pictures/selfies and posting them to social media networks, and less about actively participating in the MOMENT. Listening and engaging is becoming a lost art. I truly heart the idea of clandestine behavior as a method to organizing for change; and I support Gil Scott-Heron’s notion that the REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED. We should try engaging on a different level. That means that we can’t give it all away, by attempting to share every move that we make. Mystery is a lost art as well. We must focus on what’s in our faces. We cannot possibly be performing at our best, holding phones, trying to document ourselves at every event. That job is for videographers and photographers. Let us play our part, by actively listening. No one needs to know that you were there, you know, and that is most important. Let’s think deeply, study, and plan:

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
Brothers on the instant replay
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
Brothers on the instant replay

There will be no pictures of Whitney Young
Being run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process
There will be no slow motion or still life of Roy Wilkins
Strolling through Watts in a red, black and green
Liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving
For just the proper occasion  -Gil Scott-Heron

Peace and love,

OSiRis RiSinG



“Peace and blessings manifest with
every lesson learned
If your knowledge were your wealth then
it would be well earned”   -Erykah Badu


Today’s Kwanzaa theme is NIA otherwise known as Purpose. When I think of purpose, I think of my Identity, of our identity, and the restoration of the traditional greatness in the Black/Brown family. Our greatness has been repressed because we have been oppressed, but I can feel the blood of my ancestors running through my veins. It feels amazing. I know that I am wonderful, and I know that it means something to have this history inside of me.

Today, my NIA gift to you is Baduizm, an album that helped me to realize my Greatness. FrontBack

It’s been seventeen years since Erykah Badu released Baduizm. I was 13 at the time, and I remember being mesmerized by her music. I saw the video for On and On and was hooked! Good for me, my mom was into Badu, so she purchased the tape and played it frequently. I was right there by her side, listening to every lyric.

“I can’t believe
That we’re still livin’
Oh, in this crazy, crazy world
That I’m still livin’

With all the problems of the day
How can we go on? Hey
So tired of hearin’ people say
“How can we go on?”

Fantasy people
Make believe people
How can you go on? Yeah
But you’re still livin’ ” – from the song “Drama”

Erykah’s energy seemed to awaken something inside of me. At the time, I couldn’t identify what it was, but it seemed more spiritual than anything. To this day, she is still intoxicating and her lyrics touch my soul. I don’t exactly feel like I am a fan of hers, I feel more of a ethereal kinship to her. I feel the wealth of her knowledge reflected through her music.

As a gift, please enjoy the messages behind the music. Let the baselines take you into the lands and into the hearts of your ancestors. If you can, check out this book on Badu:


Sometimes we get knocked off course. We get lost in love, sick, distracted by technology, confused, hurt, but we have to remember that we are GREAT. We are more than whatever they told us we are! We should look to ourselves to find our history. KNOWing yourself is fulfilling your purpose. 

Peace and love,

Queen Shi-La on the throne…


8:30 p.m. 12/30/14

She’s so beautiful… and she reads


Today, accessorize with a good book! 10 REASONS WOMEN SHOULD READ…

REASON #1 Reading helps us to process our thoughts better. Women who read tend not to assume things. They simply know.

REASON #2 Reading helps us to evolve in a positive direction. It can teach you how to embrace and uplift yourself.

REASON #3 The experiences of others, written about in good books, can be very powerful life lessons that may help you to avoid a lot of pain.

REASON #4 Reading the right things can help you to gain the necessary confidence you need to eliminate bad habits like: neglecting your own feelings to cater to those of another, passive aggressive behavior, and depression. Move forward in a good book!

REASON #5 Readers have more intriguing conversations.

REASON #6 Reading can help you to identify and recognize game when you hear it! Women who read tend to be less naive.

REASON #7 Reading is a great way to relieve stress. It brings a certain level of tranquility into your day. You can travel to a different world, or learn more about the one that you are in. It is stimulating.

REASON #8 When you read, your vocabulary will grow. The way you communicate will be more powerful.

REASON #9 Reading helps you to focus better. It can also strengthen your memory. No more selectiveness!

REASON #10 Reading is empowering.


… be sure to read my article on shila iris: BOOK BOYFRIENDS

Check me out on Goodreads:

Thank you for stopping by!

-Shila Iris



Outfit of the Day…


This is such a beautiful outfit, befitting of a Queen. I can definitely see myself in it.

The pose to the right is just so, … what can I say other than, yes! It reminds me so much of my journey, searching for balance, inside of me. Ma’at.

Peace and love. – Shila Iris

Book of the Day…


Pulling From the Universe Inside of ME – Nurturing My Cipher


I was trying to go it alone, but he said, “I want to assist you through this process.” Before I knew it, I was crying. That is the impact a true friend has. It’s not just rhetoric, it’s responsibility. He wanted to hold my hand. He was pure.

***** The seasons will forever change. We all know it. The leaves have fallen off my trees. The ground beneath my feet is hard and cold. My flowers are hiding until the spring, but I can still feel the green, the roots. My foundation is being set. I’ve never felt this powerful in my life! It feels good. My season has changed and I’ve had to spend a lot of time alone. Spending time with myself, with my own thoughts, not being dependent on another has been empowering! Not jumping from affair to affair has been elevating. Having friends and family around who see the greatness in me, has been nourishing. I am not afraid to be alone anymore or to commit to myself anymore. I’m thinking, if you can’t be alone with you, why would other people want to? I don’t want to attract the same type of energy again and again, so I guess it is time to cleanse!

I record my experiences using poetry. When I talk to people about how great it feels to go through things, no matter how painful, when I tell people my story, they are interested! I’ve been encouraged to always be a griot, a storyteller, and to use the magic of my words to nurse my strength. When I write, I can feel the magic. It’s healing. I am a writer who’s finds the most comfort in telling my own story. My journey through the seasons has been tumultuous. I had been holding on to things that were damaging me. I had read many self-help books that I thought would assist in my healing, only to realize that the healing didn’t start until I let go of the thing that was hurting me most. I had to take time out to learn myself and although I have been alone, many people have come to me, and given me hugs, smiles, kisses, and so much love.

This is my thank you LETTER to the wonderful people in my CIPHER. Some of you are miles away, but when I needed you, somehow you sensed it, and you were right here with me. I am forever grateful. May we journey onward through the seasons. Everything is good until it is not! It’s been a long time coming… read (click on the image below to enlarge)

“his excitement in hearing my voice was attractive. it always had been. it felt real. not rehearsed. it felt right.”

the THANK YOU LETTER… you have to adjust your screens to read.All I See is You_October 2014 copy

and although, i don’t need to run to people to save me, i’ve realized that there are people who genuinely want to help. No matter how much I refuse, they feel like they have to. It’s quite amazing. I am grateful. this poem was originally published here, on January 29, with other things in mind. It is still relevant in my journey. it is not a love poem. it is a poem to show my regards for those who really CARE about me. and they have proven this time and time again. i can’t believe how wonderful you are. i deserve u. i miss u. People Around Us Poem copy

THANK YOU SO MUCH! Thank you friends, lovers, family, companions, artists- everyone who has experienced me! Everyone who rose to my occasion, everyone who was interested in the truth.

You are so true.
i can see the sun shining on me, through you.
i can see it in the words that you write.
the pictures that you take.
the stories that you create.
your style,
your flow.
i needed honesty.
i needed someone to remind me.
and you were that person.
i want to be like you!
Osiris, I am you.
Horus, I am you.
Isis, I am you.
Maat, I am you.
Zarina Asha, I am you.
Imhotep Famj, I am you.
SunRe, I am you.
Kitara, i am you.
Ike Ejiogu, I am you.
You all are the Papyrus of Ani,
and i am reading you thoroughly.
 All I See is You_October 2014_ 2 copy

thank you for the warm kisses.

thank you for SHOWING up.
thank you for not giving up on ME,
and not allowing me to give up on myself.
thank you for not humiliating me or lying.
I thank you for never running away,
and for respecting me enough to let me live through the consequences of my bad decisions. i kept a strong face, but I was crying inside. you all never passed judgment… i am running towards you at a fast pace, I need you most.
My opposing viewpoints earned me lifetime lovers. thank you for taking my heart carefully in your hands and stroking it.
through my experiences, I am wiser.
My feet are touching solid ground because of you.
I am most grateful for those who did not wait for the smoke to clear.
they helped me get to safety.
they gave me the tools, the support I needed to save myself.
No looking back. The new is on the horizon.
i am filling myself up again with REAL things!
thank you so much!
to those who did not compare my journey to their own or anyone’s.
they did not look for opportunities to vent,
they listened.
they allowed me to exist in exclusivity.
they allowed me to be in the lime light.
those who just accepted me for who i am.
those who did not share my pain with the world.
or talk about me in circles as if they had any idea what life has been like for me. 
you don’t know me at all. 

Thank you to all who allow me to tell my own stories.

thank you to those who did not stump on me.
their insecurities did not force me into a corner.
their insecurities did not force me to lie.
their confidence encouraged me to be free,
to be happy, to be merry, 
and not to live my life trying to please people who really don’t love me.
they helped me to see that I cannot be controlled.
i am in control of me. 
they helped me to not seek revenge,
but to release the things that bound me.
Friend:  “Let it go baby!
i was so blind, but now i see.
you listened to my story. you listened to the truth.
asante sana. nakupenda. lala salama.
I am Shila Iris also known as YoU.

Gotta give up it up to the cReAtor, allAh, JEHovah, mAAt, Jah, RastaFARI…

a song for you.


Shila_Bobby Williams photo

Monday, October 13, 2014, 2:34 p.m.