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Kissed by Growth’s Pain

a poem by Shaunteri Skinner

she fell into the burns of her past as they lay thick & thin

on her brain,

the emptiness was so full,

it was so well-rounded & welcoming.

kissed by growth’s pain in too many ways to describe how she

could bear to breathe,

ignoring the calms of eves or news of life’s chances in whatever direction.

she felt as if her waking was

misbehavior until she woke out of that dream of killers that she kept  repeating At night,

those who laughed right next to her with blood all over their hands

causing blood to be her brain ever so often.

until all of the flesh fell back onto her


the rest of her left the world, never want-

ing to have gone,

but never wanting to come back either.

being trapped in her

life & the life that history

made for her caused all of

the pain that she would

ever need to grow,

to be Black, woman &

beautiful was the best that she

ever had to be,

But proving it to those

who mattered most

Seemed like new & old crushed dreams.

published in Genre: Urban Arts First Edition

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Survival Skills

by Yetunde Bronson

I had a pretty disturbing revelation the other day: should this world as we all know it comes to a loud and violent end, and we are all left to fend for ourselves, without infrastructure or order, I would be dead within a few days because I have, like, zero survival skills.

This is the type of shit I think about late at night, Fam. Bear with me.

Seriously – I sat up one night and wrote down a list of my skills that could possibly come in handy should the eternal nightfall on our world.

Here’s what I came up with:

  • Whistling: Perhaps I could serve as a lookout for a roving band of thieves. Except I’m blind as a bat without my glasses, so…
  • Dancing: I’m thinking like in that setup Tina Turner had in Beyond the Thunderdome. Probably not likely, though.
  • Cook: Which is fine if someone has a working stove. Otherwise, I’m useless cuz I don’t know how to start a fire without matches.

I mean, outside of these, I have other, impressive skills that would be rendered utterly useless after the collapse of civilization. This really disturbed me, so I decided to do something about it – I went out and bought some seeds.

For some reason, I decided that out of all of the useful, post-apocalyptic survival skills, gardening would make the most sense for me. It sounded easy enough. I mean, ignore the fact that I have killed 80% of the plant life I have ever touched – a statistic that has been documented by my own mother, who, upon hearing my plans to start a balcony garden, leaned against the wall, weak with laughter. Keep in mind, my mother is horticulturally blessed by the Ancestors and the Holy Ghost. I have seen her cup a dead (not dying, Fam – dead) plant in her hand, blow on it and watch it shudder back to life. The shit is mind-boggling. So, yeah. I was in my chest when she laughed at me.

      “Well, everybody can’t be out here in these streets, resurrecting aloe vera plants and what not,” I said (in my head).

      Anyway, I brushed that off and got some seeds. And yeah, I made some mistakes with some of them –  planted them too early, watered them too little, crowded too many in the pot.

      But I learned. I asked around – co-workers, the exhausted but helpful woman at Stein’s Gardening Center, the nurse at the ER who apparently owns her own farm.

And I tried again. And now, I am seeing the fruits, or vegetables, of my labor.

So, when the zombie apocalypse begins,  and you find yourself in the Midwest, come holler at me. I’ll be the dreadlocked sister in the fatigues, trading tomatoes out of a truck.

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Mistaken Wisdom

a poem byCaroline Fleurette

Endless nights spent sitting on my mother’s lap

A tug of war of ideologies

As she straightens my perspective

One must be presentable for every situation

She mused

Yet, the next day I wouldn’t want to go to school

Because when I look in the mirror I’m not the reflection

of my Barbie

The results of my mother efforts vaporizes at the finger


And snickers of my classmates

Stick to your roots she encourages

I don’t think she truly understands

How can I stay true to myself

When weekly I face my tangled insecurities

Do you know you were the worst role model for me You

look nothing like me

Your strands has a mind of its own

Speaking freely with the wind

But in the end I internalized my thoughts

Weekly during the…

Endless night spent sitting on my mother’s lap


published in Genre: Urban Arts’ First Edition

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a poem by Jaleesa Davis

Still, after seven years, I can’t say that my heart still feels no pain, before that day it was sunshine and afterward it was just rain.

No one ever told me my story wouldn’t be goofy or fun, and as far as stories are concerned, I wish I didn’t have one.

They say you always have a choice in life, that is until someone takes that right from you leaving you with only the choice they make, the one thing I thought I was able to give who knew you’d take.

I told you I forgave you because I did, but I still cry about it and I still mourn over it because I was just a kid.

And maybe I never used word of mouth to say no or that I didn’t want to continue with the actions being introduced, but I can tell you right now that I wasn’t seduced, and that I shouldn’t have been with you.

I’ll always blame myself for what happened to me because what good would it do if I continued to blame you, I’d still be unhappy.

It’s been seven years since you took the one thing I was allowed to give, and sometimes I wonder how I live with that memory in the back of my brain, there is sunshine and yet there’s still rain.

I’ll never yell that dirty R word because I know it’s not real, and that’s not what it was, but I’ll always loathe you because it was supposed to be my choice and it never was.

You were an adult and I wish I could tell you that I am now too, and yet I still sometimes think about you.

I’ve repressed that day so much in my mind. It feels like it’s been loads of time, between then and now, and it still affects me and I don’t know how.


published in Genre: Urban Arts First Edition

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Muslim Bomber

by Roomana Shaikh 

Laila hated Saturdays. She hated going to Queens and having to transfer three different trains. She hated every aspect of the travel. She hated having to wear the long black abaya that flowed and also brought a lot of attention. She hated the cream white hijab she had to wear with it and how it had to be pinned all the way,  and wrapped around her monstrous curls. More than anything Laila hated coming back. She hated the anxiety she had when coming back from Queens. She tried to find any way to avoid the kids at her block, avoid any of the kids around her school. All the Muslim kids had heard she wore the abaya but no one really saw her.  Today seemed different though. As she walked down the steps with her mom, she noticed how crowded the streets were. The weather was getting warmer which meant more people, which meant people she knew, which meant her secret was about to be spilled. The sucky thing was that either way she went back to her house, she was going to be seen.

“Beta, remember to be confident. Look the sun is shining but I’m not hot. I know people bother with these questions, but you need to speak up.” Her mom said as they walked down the sidewalk. This was going to be a weekly lecture. Laila’s mom wore an all-black abaya and hijab. She had her mouth covered as well, so the only thing you could see was her large brown eyes peeking through.

“Ammi I know. I get it. But wearing all black isn’t fun either. We look like the people on tv. Look at us. Why do you think that guy was yelling at us on the train? We do look weird!” Laila argued back. She hated the abaya. It made her feel so out of place. Most of all it reminded her of how un-American she was.

“So what?! This dress should be just as acceptable as jeans and a t-shirt. Who cares if someone thinks we look like criminals.  We’re educated, civilized  people.  You need to accept that.

The more you listen to the ignorance, the more you’re going to lose your roots. Look at me?! My own people mock me for covering up. But I don’t care. I believe in my religion and I believe in my choices. Your own father is against my niqab. Beta you need to be brave. I was so brave then and I still am.” She replied in a much harsher tone. When Laila’s mom spoke, it sounded like thunder yelling from the sky. Even though the strangers passing by didn’t understand what she was saying, they knew it was something important.

“Well, I can’t be brave. Everyone bullies me. Everyone mocks me. No one wants to be my friend.” Laila complained. Oh, how she wished she was like her mom. Oh, how she wished her mom understood her.

“YOOO LAILA?! YO you look the Taliban! Your mom- ma’s a ninja bro. Salam ninja. Got any bombs under there.” Yelled Daniel and Ryan. They stood on the bench- es hollering at Laila and her mom as they walked by. She noticed Tommy in the back just laughing.

“See, now speak up Laila. I know how you feel” Laila’s mom said. She started walking towards the boys. Laila wanted to hide and cry. Her secret was exposed. It was over. It was all over. She wanted to burn her clothes. She wanted to leave her mom.

“Yes yes, I’m a ninja! But you are rude! This is my culture. This is my religion. How dare you say I have bombs with me? Have some shame!” Her mom yelled at the three boys. They stood quietly and then started to snicker. Laila’s mom turned and started walking towards her building. In front of the building were all the aunties just staring at her astonishingly. Laila saw Mohammed and Ali stare as well, stopping their basketball game below the fire escape. Laila felt her cheeks getting hot and red. Her hands trembled and she just wanted to hide.


first published in June 2017 in Genre: Urban Arts

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Deep Pockets

Image via @photosbyelldot_ (


There comes a time in every girl-turned-woman’s life where promiscuity is a thing that simply must be had.  Looking for the outside to match the inside. Trying to ingest this idea of attaching monetary value to things passionate.  Things gifted.  Things anointed.  Deep pockets are, after all, the world’s oldest profession.  Yes, there comes a time in every girl-turned-woman’s life where all she knows is to turn away…or…invite you in.

And ask, “do I still feel the same?”

And think, “I bet he thinks this song (and dance) is about him.”

Careful, how you pro seed.

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Femme: Literati Mixtape

So, yeah!  With all the unseen words

floating around in clouds

and free spaces

and unwired four walls

real paper, pages, ink has become somewhat obsolete

and needed a Native Queen to bring them back to life.

And HERstory was made!  ‘cause isn’t this how it’s always made?  

Look around.  It’s happening!

Femme: Literati Mixtape is an anthology due Summer 2019 conceived by Genre: Urban Arts.  Anthologies are everything!  Literally…everything!  Creative Director, Nakeysha Roberts Washington (@nakeysha) together with authors/editors Rico Lowe (@panafrico) and Shimah Easter (@gonbeallwrite_mah) are preparing to present this opportunity to women creatives who are of the African diaspora together with their brown sistren, contemporary, informed and passionate.  The anthology will feature a mix of written word, art, photography and fashion. If you are interested in this opportunity or know an artist who would be, please DM/contact any of the editors above or visit the ‘Opportunities’ tab at We are HERstory in the making!

Here’s the fatbooty on what we are looking for…

  • Fiction or Creative Nonfiction
    • 500 words or less
  • Poetry
    • 2-4 poems with 50 lines or less
  • Prose
    • 500 words or less
  • Art
    • Title, Medium
    • 1-3 images (file size no greater than 64MB)
    • Artist statement
  • Photography
    • Title, Medium
    • 5-7 images (file size no greater than 64MB)
    • Artist statement
  • Fashion
    • Bloggers, models and designers with impeccable style who want to call attention to his or her work. You are welcome to compose a write up on yourself; however, Genre editors would be happy to interview you and compose one for you.
    • 5-7 Images (file size no greater than 64MB)
    • 200-400 words
Femme Literati: Mixtape
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Flash Fiction Anthology— Genre: Urban Arts in partnership with Still Waters Collectives

A group of residents gathered to talk about social issues affecting their lives and their communities. This was part of an experimental social conversations project and pop-up survey called Soapbox, organized by Still Waters Collective. From these discussions, Genre: Urban Arts is partnering with Still Waters Collective to invite all writers to submit flash fiction for an upcoming anthology.
Starting from October 1, 2018, we will share one anonymous response/comment on a social issue daily, and writers are invited to submit flash fiction pieces based on the social issue addressed in the comment. The comments we will use to inspire flash fiction stories will cover issues such as Intersectionality, Incarceration, Generations/Generational Gap, Privilege, Mental Health, and Gender.
  • Read each comment and submit your flash fiction story based on the social issue addressed in the comment. You can choose from a list of 20 different comments and six social issues posted daily. So, remember to check Genre: Urban Arts every day to see our social issue comment post for the day.
  • Your flash fiction story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end.
  • It should include conflict or an incident which creates some conflict for your character(s).
  • The ending of your story should show readers that the incident or conflict, which happened to your character(s), affected or changed your character(s) world or worldview.
  • We are accepting original unpublished work for this flash fiction anthology.
  • Word count is 1000 or less.
  • All flash fiction submissions should be in Microsoft Word doc. or .docx formats.
  • Submission Deadline: November 20, 2018.
  • Submit your story to us on Submittable.
Flash Fiction


Project Editors Mercy Ananeh-Frempong and Ralvell Rogers II.


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if fall should come and you find your
apple trees have been replaced by brick,
the sounds of the rivers
turned to the hum of distant traffic

remember that a cup of tea
is just as cozy at the corner cafe
as it is in an orchard
and that warm wool socks can be stitched
around your heart the same in the city
as they were in your garden.

you may have a harvest yet.



photo: Rachel Wood


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I Only Know What is Necessary for Me by Karl Iglesias

I croak    swole chest    little sapo-
shake vicious            be you           little sapo
fly close             gravity pulls     little sapo
dead fly              in tangerine  little sapo
regal hop           why croak       little sapo
next minute        given spoils     little sapo
ay papo               see you         little sapo
hop on              and on

Continue reading I Only Know What is Necessary for Me by Karl Iglesias

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No. 5 GUA Print

Cop a copy of Genre: Urban Arts No. 5 Print that will begin being shipped out on September 24th. We have a host of contemporary visual art and writing that needs to be in your hands. Our cover artist for No. 5 is Nadine Mbaka. Read more about her in an article written by Vianca Fuster.

We are a small print magazine. Copies are limited. Purchase your copy now! Continue reading No. 5 GUA Print

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RSVP for A Day of Art with Genre: Urban Arts and Harlem 2020

GENRE: Urban Arts & Harlem2020 present GUA Open Mic at International Print Center New York in collaboration with Newark Arts | M&T Bank Murals and Martinis™ Public Art Tour and The Mile Long Opera

We also have a limited supply of tickets to the Mile Long Opera for attendees of our event!