At Home With... Shawntai Brown

At Home With... Shawntai Brown

Stories and memories of home with poet and contributor Shawntai Brown


Where is home for you?

Home is my father and water and anything else that makes me buoyant. It's somewhere in the middle of a tin drum of oatmeal-raisin cookies or a family-size gallon of generic vanilla ice cream. It's a passerby in thin-rimmed aviator sunglasses who looks slightly like my late mother, just enough to calm me. It's migration and return. It's my finger hovering over a keyboard waiting to name something. It's a shrug, inflated and swiftly collapsed shoulders: the place where who I am and who I will be is never a surprise. Always welcome.

Stay out in the sun, stand in the shade, or listen to the rain and thunder?

It's listening to the rain and thunder, and then entering it.

What smells remind you of home?

It smells like ham hocks and green beans soaked in pepper flakes that still smell like everything grandpa ever said nearly a decade after he's gone and six years since I've eaten meat. Also, moped exhaust and popcorn shrimp.

Where is home away from home?

Home away from home is any lake or river or stream leading to a lake or river. If water can't be found, it's the annoying teasing that leads to laughter from any one of my siblings. And if I have nothing else, it's a stage or a seat in the audience.


Read Shawntai's poem 'Halloween, Detroit 2013' in our SOUND issue. Submit to HOME here.

Shawntai Brown is a Detroit poet, playwright, and teaching artist with a Bachelor of Art in creative writing from Western Michigan University. Currently she is on residency with InsideOut Literary Arts Project.