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FEDANA - Want Me First

I love words...

And that's why I love poetry because I love how people manipulate words to get a point across.

I love Battle Rap for the same reason, but that's a conversation for a different article.

And this brings me to Fedana, better known as FeFe on these internet streets.

She shared her poetry and I became an instant fan. Her sense of imagery and the way she carries her audience through her stories from the beginning to the punch line has made me want to interview her right away. And if not for WCW, just so I could get to know more about her.

Her story, like many others, is worth listening to. She provides insights on her and the importance of having a tribe around you that would benefit a lot of people.

So I give you... Fedana!

Okay, I'm sitting here with Fedana. You have a bit of a sensuality that you display in the writing and in your description. Your sense of imagery is dope. I'm a big fan! Huge fan of yours! I recently read Through The Eyes of Trauma, which I found to be a very powerful piece. So I'm going to start with that. Can you describe the moment you decided to go on this journey?

I guess the moment that I decided to go on this journey, it was back when I was in university. And I realized that a lot of the stuff that happened over the course of my life has negatively impacted me in one way or another. And it was getting really hard to focus on the positive and on my studies, with so much underlying trauma coming back up. So it's kind of like you eat all this food, and now like it has nowhere to go. So now it's gonna come back up. And yet, everything started coming back up. So I decided to seek the help of a therapist, after being on academic probation, and literally facing being kicked out of school. That's how bad it was. So me seeing a therapist was not intentionally to address the trauma. Seeing a therapist was the only way that I would be able to stay in school, because they can't legally kick you out for mental health reasons. So, I started my therapy journey through there. And something that started as just a ploy to stay in school ended up being so much more, and I realized, I actually need therapy a lot more than I am more than I thought I did. So I started seeing my therapist, Haley. And it was absolutely eye opening, heart opening. I was able to articulate my feelings in a safe environment and really get the stuff out there. And I was able to figure some stuff about myself that I didn't initially know. Which was amazing. So around that time, I would say I was 19 years old. So I started really trying to heal myself at 19. Because just looking at the women in my family, looking at my mother and seeing all of the traumas that they've gone through that they never dealt with, and seeing how almost miserable that they are in their adulthood. I don't want to suffer as an adult. I don't want to suffer. Like the older I get, the more I suffer. I refuse to stay there. I refuse to think that this is my part of the curse. So I guess my part of healing, my family and my lineage and my future children, hopefully, is by doing the work as much as I can now and begin the process sooner rather than later.

So now I'd like to ask, what was your upbringing like?

My upbringing was very strict. It was rough. It was definitely rough. So I was born in Haiti, um, my parents kind of left. I think I was 18 months old when my mother took her leave from Haiti. And she left my sister and I with our aunties and our grandparents, and it was fine until we moved to the Bahamas. And that's where my parents were, that's where they moved to. So we moved to the Bahamas, my sister and I. I think my mother was pregnant with my little sister at that point in time. So I had to go live with an aunt and an uncle in another part of the Bahamas. So the Bahamas is made up of over 700 Islands. So I had to stay in Palmetto Point, which was an island, and my parents were on Harbor Island. And it was rough because when I was in Palmetto Point, I got sexually assaulted. It was a lot of violence. I was a kid at that time, so I didn't really know any of the things that were going on. I didn't know how it was going to affect me. I didn't know how to navigate it, how to deal with it. So I thought my only option at that point and time was silence, just utter silence. And then I moved to the States after it happened for a few, like a few times for a few years, I moved to the States. My sister was already there. So I moved to another aunt's house. And I stayed there for a few years. And it was really rough because I did grow up with an inner ear tumor. It's called cholesteatoma. And I grew up with that nobody knew how to diagnose it. So all the doctors kept pumping me medicine and pumping me air drops when I had a whole like benign tumor growing in my air. It shattered my eardrum, so I became completely hearing impaired. I can't hear at all in my left ear. I stayed there with that situation with the bullying because I had this weird mixture of a Haitian and Bahamian accent in Florida, which is funny because I'm in Canada now with a weird mixture of a Haitian, Bahamian and Floridian accent (laughter).

It’s funny because I have not heard any accent. You sound like you're Canadian to me.

Oh, that's good. That's good. I think I finally fixed it then. But it was definitely hard. My parents eventually moved to Florida with us for like two seconds before we all had to be uprooted yet again and moved to Canada. So I guess my upbringing wasn't very still. There was just a whole lot of moving. And not a lot of structure. Not a lot of love. Not a lot of adults raising you. Like they didn't talk to you. They spoke at you. So yeah, it was definitely rough. And it was definitely harder for a quiet kid. To try to assimilate into a culture when you can barely assimilate into your own family. Yeah. Um, so that was my upbringing. Just rough.

You speak of being a quiet kid. Somehow, when I read you, I don't hear quietness. When did you give yourself permission to let your voice be heard?

To be completely honest with you, I didn't really give myself permission to let my voice be heard until this year. So I've been writing for quite a while. I've always said I'm better with the words than I am with people. Much better with words that I'm with people, so I sound better on paper. But it wasn't until this year, I did a tarot reading, which is something I've never done before. And she was explaining to me, she was like, your throat chakra is blocked. I feel like you've been really silent. And it wasn't the first time somebody said that to me. I was told that I have the capacity to, you know, make money off of my talent or the capacity to have a really long career as a poet. However, that doesn't work with silence. So I guess it was after some really traumatic stuff happened in December that I really decided that the longer you stay silent, the more you give others permission to tell your story. And I don't want people to author my story. I want my story, my words to be heard from my mouth. And I feel like it's a lot easier to feel where I came from when I wrote it, if I speak it. Then if somebody else reads it. Because my art and my craft and my poetry, it was never meant to just be just digested like that. It was never meant to be read. It was meant to be felt. So I feel like people feel me better when I voice my own craft and voice my own experiences. Because these poems are not just putting words on paper, this is a map of my life. This is a map of me. It's personal and I take it pretty seriously.

As you should. So basically this year you sort of open up and started sharing more, getting into your Instagram game. I think I even saw you hosting Climax one time.

I did. I hosted Climax, which is Gabby's platform. Gabby and I are great friends. So she allowed me to do that. Um, I did my own workshop / event already this year on April 25. I did the Simplicity of Sensuality. Where I kind of merged my love of writing and my advocacy for women being sensual and being feminine before being mothers and wives and all these other stuff, just being a woman first. So I kind of merged those two together and had a really nice night and a really great event. And I don't know, I think I kind of got a knack for it. (laughter)

(laughter) I started following the events. For the sensuality events. So I'm looking forward to seeing the next one. So yeah, that's pretty dope. All right. So let's see. You always wrote...

No, no. So I've always been an artist. But writing, I didn't start writing until I think it was about seven years ago, when I was in grade 10.

I just heard the accent now (laughter)

(laughter) It comes out and it comes out whenever it wants to. Just certain words. But I was in grade 10, when I really started writing poetry, but I used to focus my time more on fictional and non fictional stories. So my first art form, as far as writing goes, is I'm a storyteller. And before then, it used to be graphic design. So I used to do physical art, just painting, drawing. And even before then, I was always a dancer. I was trained to play the violin from a very young age. So yeah, like I was always into the arts in one way or another. And I finally settled on poetry, because, again, better with words than people.

What was your support system, like growing up compared to now?

Growing up, my support system was non-existent. My parents didn't really understand my need for self expression. And being a kid who is hearing impaired, and, for example, I can have one on one conversations, but having conversations in crowds is absolutely excruciating, because I can't hear anything. And I'm always trying to fill in the blanks. But yeah, that support system was completely non-existent, I wasn't really allowed to do much with it. Um, like, for example, I remember I got a spanking once for drawing in the back of my report card. So it wasn't really a thing. I didn't really have encouragement to go out there and be great. I often think about where I would have been if I had that. If I had people pushing me to share my talents and do this or any other. But I never really had that. But now, in my adulthood, I think I found my tribe. I mean, I have support from people like the Ontario Poet Laureate Randy, or Gabby or Mel. I have a lot of support from the community of poets in the city. So that feels amazing. To know that I'm being felt, and I'm being heard and being encouraged. So that that's really cool.

It seems like I'm connected to you guys. Because so far, the majority of women that I've interviewed for Women Crushing It Wednesdays have been poets. It’s a good vibe. It’s good energy. What is the misconception people have about you?

I think that one of the misconceptions that people have about me is that I'm an erotic poet. I think that's one of them. I'm not (laughter). I'm really not. I think that, um, oftentimes when I perform at other events, people are kind of surprised that, oh, you're doing this poem about mental health, you're doing this poem about God, like you're doing this. Poetry is not a monolith. It doesn't stay in one place. So I don't like being categorized as just one thing. I feel like it's kind of unfair to my craft, and I kind of feel like it builds unnecessary pressure to write more erotic stuff.

Totally agree. Totally agree. And, you know what, along with that misconception of you being an erotic poet, tell me now, do you get approached in your DMs because of it?

I do. I get approached. Nothing disrespectful, though. So that's really good. Um, I get approached a lot as it's more like, Oh, that's what we're doing. And it's like, Yeah, we did that already. We can do other stuff, too. But yeah, that's what we just did. That's not what we're doing. So it's very interesting. It's kind of cute how they try to shoot their shots through compliments. And it's like, you could just say it was nice. And then just just leave. We could talk if you want.

So how do you decipher from someone that you would be interested in to someone who just got horny off of your poetry?

That's a good one. I mean, it's hard to discern. It's definitely hard to discern, because I feel like whether or not I'm doing erotic poetry, I have to admit that my entire aura and energy kind of like exude sensuality, because that's a huge part of who I am. Um, so it's kind of hard to escape, you know, being a central being but I think it is just on me to make sure that the people who come into my DMs understand that first of all, it does not leave the DMs. Second, currently, where I'm at right now, I'm not even remotely interested. I just dated a poet. I'm good.

Oh, so it’s poets coming at you?

Oh my god. Yeah, usually. I'm not necessarily interested in the advances. So it doesn't really go anywhere that I just thought I don't want it to. And also, I had to realize that social media is a tool. Tools need people to hold them. So I stopped taking it so personally, and just started taking social media as I opened this message, because I wanted to. If I didn't want to reply to it, I could delete it, I could block you. The power for us to communicate is on me. So I can choose whether or not I want to respond to these advances or just completely ignore them. And I think that's up to my discretion. I'm just a really kind person. And sometimes I feel really bad if I don’t reply. It's just about building boundaries. I'm still learning to build those.

At the end of the day, yeah, it is building boundaries, but also applying them as well. People know how to love you by the way you love yourself. You told me what you want your message to be with your writing. You want people to feel it. What projects do you have coming up?

I have quite a few. So for my Simplicity of Sensuality event, I really liked doing the event. Initially, it was going to be a one off. But because of how well it was received, I have decided to do a couple more for the year. Like the next one I'm planning will be in June. It will be a Summer Body Series. I feel like that's something a lot of us struggle with. Me included. To be fair, at this point, summer's gonna get whatever it gets from me. I ain’t stressing it.

There’s a reason why your DMs are piling up. There's a reason why people go over there.

I hope it's my personality. (laughter)

Yeah, because guys go to girls, because of their personalities.

Yeah, I have very big personalities. (laughter)


But I really want to release another book this year. Um, I'm not entirely sure if I want to release a poetry book. I think I want to go a different direction and kind of introduce my storytelling side. So I might just do that. And I'm just performing as much as I can, getting comfortable with my voice. And being available for calls.

How did you feel when you first released your first book?

It felt really good and really bad at the same time. For one, I made the mistake of filtering myself in my book, because I was so afraid of how my family would perceive the poems and the stuff that's happening in the book. Because you grew up in a very conservative Christian family, with a lot of backwards values. So I was afraid that to not put too much sexy stuff in there. Or not speak too much about the violence that you experienced, or even speak about, like my parental abuse situations or stuff like that. I felt like it was gonna be badly received by my family. And I also didn't want to be put in a position where I make people feel bad for stories. But it was a disservice to myself, because that's my story. So if I don't tell my story, if I'm filtering my stories, it doesn't belong to me. So I feel that for my next work, that's definitely something that I'm not going to focus too much on. I'm just going to trust and believe that it's going to be received regardless by who it's meant to be received by. It made me filter myself away too much. And then there was also the fact that I published with an American company. And I sold a bunch of books. I paid out of pocket for a lot of it, I didn't really have a budget for marketing. I didn't really have money for marketing when I was done with it, because I was still a university student who was doing two majors, studying for an LSAT and working two jobs. So I didn't I really didn't have the money. I didn't have the funds. So my publishers, I didn't look at the contract again, legal student my mistake. And out of all the books that I sold, I still have the check for $15 at my house. So I made 15 bucks. So I recently decided to start reselling the book. Because I got mad and completely took it off. But I decided to sell it off of my website so that I can see the profit so that I can benefit off of my work because it kind of sucks knowing that I put so much work and money into something and other people are eating off of my labor and I'm starving.

I guess I'm gonna make this the last question, I guess, what would be the piece of advice you would give Fedana at the age of 18?

At the age of 18, I would tell myself, stay away from older men (laughter).


That's one. You do not need to be talking to someone 15 years older than you. Yeah, stay away from older men. Express yourself more. Be careful who you let into your circle and who you confide in. Because a lot of people, as much as they're there to listen, they're there to listen so that they can relay and not listen to relate. So just be careful who you let into your circle. Be a little less anti-social.

You think you’re anti-social?

I was super anti-social, I was so bad. I would go to open mics, perform and then run out as soon as I'm done. Because I couldn't handle the after conversations. All of that, and also, the boy you've been loving on for like five years, let him go. (laughter)

(laughter) Oh, actually, let me ask you one very last question. That's the very last one. Of all the pieces you've ever written, what's your favorite line?

Oh… Want me first.

That's your favorite line? Want me first?

It’s actually a poem that I started but never finished. So the main reason why a lot of my relationships were not working out is because even though the relationship starts from an initial, obviously, physical attraction to me. That's usually where it ends for the other person. You know, meanwhile, they're doing all these things. And, you know, I'm a poet, I'm a storyteller. So I'm here, I'm writing a whole different story than the one that they're living in. So I'm here falling in all sorts of love. Meanwhile, they're doing whatever they want, whoever they want. And I'm here being loyal and exclusive to people who aren't loyal or exclusive to me. Because I felt like that was something that I had to practice. My very first relationship, situationship, relationship, whatever you want to call it. I think I was 17. And we were really close to each other. But at that point and time, I, being the younger one in the situation, I think he was 22. Me, at that point in time, I kind of got caught up. Like, I felt way too much way too quickly. And also, it was a trauma bond. He didn't really feel as much as I did. So I'm here trying to get over my trauma and get over my situation by painting him as the opposite of all the men who hurt me in the past. Meanwhile, same beast. And it wasn't until after we were done dealing with each other, years go by and then we started dealing with each other again, except this time, it was reversed. It was him who was feeling more than I was feeling. And, um, I realized I was like, Huh, so that's how you leave a relationship with your sanity. Like, they have to be the ones to want you first. You can't be the one in the situation, to give everything to someone who's not prepared to receive it. And I realized that that's just how my heart is set up. Like I'm an all in or nothing person anyways. So I figure that it's better to be all in with someone who's all in with you or all in first. So yeah, Want Me First it's my favorite line, mostly clothes.I have it tattooed on me. Just as a reminder.

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