A Place That Knows You
An unrequited love story between a foreigner and the land of freedom, Tiwaladeoluwa Adekunle’s collection A Place That Knows You follows the journey of growing up in America as an outsider.
Leaving her home countries of Nigeria and Ghana at a young age and coming to America, Adekunle, as many other foreigners, faced the struggles of longing for America while America possessed no longing for them. She explores this unfortunate notion throughout her collection, bringing to light these struggles to her audience who may not have experienced such and have changed mindsets through the messages of her poems. What uneducated Americans may think of as harmless is not such for individuals like Adekunle. Times when people asked her to “say that again” in response to her name or comments about her natural hair being “conquered by conditioner” leave Adekunle with “the bruise of all the[se] years”.
Adekunle also examines the dynamic of adolescence. In “I once held in my other hand:”, the audience walks along with Adekunle as we experience the trials and tribulations of adolescence once held onto by the author, with the title suggesting a conquering of such. In “in relief, in wonder”, we relate to the power of our mothers and their desire to remain strong for their children. This childhood also leads though to a maturity and an understanding of how one is viewed in this world. “a non-exhaustive list of pros and cons for loving you” shatters the child-like crush of immigrant children for America as Adekunle highlights the incapability of this country to truly love one such as her.
Faced with the never-ending love triangle between herself, her home country, and America, Adekunle shines a light on the red flags of this country, making them terrible lovers for those not from here. This dynamic allows the collection to explore the notions of place, identity, and displacement and offer a discussion of acceptance and education.