“Just Because”: A Poem by TJ Dema

by    /  September 22, 2014  / No comments

TJ Dema at the 2014 Jazz Poetry Concert. Photo: Renee Rosensteel.

For poet, editor, and arts administrator TJ Dema, poetry is meant to be spoken aloud. Performing for over a decade, Dema is a founding member of Botswana’s spoken word movement and a member of Sonic Slam Chorus. Her performances in Zimbabwe, India, Germany, France, the US, and her native Botswana (among others) have cemented her standing as a truly impressive writer and performer. Dema is an honorary fellow of the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program and current administrator of Sauti Arts & Performance Management, a Botswana-based arts organization. Previously she was chairperson of the Writers Association of Botswana.

First taking the Pittsburgh stage in 2012, this is Dema’s second time participating in City of Asylum/Pittsburgh’s Jazz Poetry Concert. She has just recently published a book of poetry entitled Mandible with the African Poetry Book Fund as part of the Seven New Generation African Poets box set. In 2013 she was named an Arise Magazine African Changemaker, as well as included in the St. Louis Top 40 Under 40 in 2014.


Because I know you are going to ask
where the flowers are,
I have picked roses red and sweet,
left them by the wayside for the birds to eat.

Because I know you are going to ask
where the sweets are,
I have made you halwa with these hands
stirred and then spilt what was yours.

Because I know you are going to ask
where I am,
I have long left the place I was
to walk slow between the trees

Where your greedy eye cannot reach me.

This poem by Motswana poet TJ Dema appears in the chapbook Mandible which is part of the Seven New Generation African Poets boxset edited by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani, published by Slapering Hol Press in association with the African Poetry Book Fund.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.