I sat down with my soul quenching friend Magda Ayuk for her new book debut “Blue Bird”. Magda is of Cameroonian descent — raised in Montreal Canada. With over 23,000 followers on Instagram, Magda is known for her curated feed where she celebrates women of color in all their glory. Under each post, she displays her spell bounding poetry that will leave you salivating for more. Magda connects with her followers by asking self-healing questions that teaches you how to turn your pain into power.
Magda and I’s friendship was planted over facebook messenger and fully blossomed through our journey here in South Korea as English teachers. In our initial conversations, I was blown away by her level of transparency and openness as well as her ability to reach deep into your soul; asking the questions most wouldn’t dare ask. I’m very excited that my friend and sister has used her pain to bring forth conscious, honest, and transparent artwork. If you’ve ever experienced pain, racism, or struggled with self-love. Her poetry will coo at the deep ends of your soul.
Here is Magda’s and I interview:
What attracted you to come to SK? What mind frame were you in?
I was broke and needed a way to make money. I went on a few interviews in Montreal and couldn’t find anything. In a quest to make money, a friend recommended that I come to South Korea. I was depressed due to a failed marriage and failed translation business. South Korea was a way out of that. On the flight to LA, I cried because it hit me I was A L O N E. That was my first time being alone, ever. It was rough.
Did your depression propel you to write?
When I was in Montreal going through that rough patch, I wasn’t writing. I had clients but it wasn’t enough. I would workout at home ’cause I couldn’t afford a bus pass to a gym. I wasn’t doing poetry. I started doing poetry when I moved to Korea.
What was that defining experience that lead you to write in SK?
I started writing poetry after I was sidechicked, she laughs. I was dating a dude who had a fiance and then got married. I didn’t even know. He just posted pictures on facebook and I was so mad. I had already been through enough and I’m like now something else is happening, shoot!
The poetry stemmed from anger. I would send them to my friend and she suggested I post them. Once I started posting I was receiving good feedback and then my Instagram page started to grow from there. So I decided, ok let me dedicate this page to poetry– so the poetry gave my page direction.
You sing, you write, and do burlesque which one is your “go to” creative outlet or are they all different?
Yeah, they are all different. Writing is my heart I’ve been doing it since I could write. Burlesque is new for me but it has boosted my confidence. I started acting as well my second time in Korea and all of that is just storytelling for me, and that’s my passion. All of those things fall under that umbrella. I like to touch people with my work. For example yesterday, someone told me how the show boosted up his mood, he said,” it’s deeper than just taking off clothes. Energy can be felt.”
I really like the impact we can have on people with our art.
How would you say burlesque has influenced your writing style?
It’s made me more RAW, you’re really baring it all except your nipples are covered, she jokes. That’s how people have been describing my newer pieces. Because I just write and air my dirty laundry. But I kind of hide under the story. It may be about me or it might be about someone else. it’s up to the reader to determine that.
Check out the promo for the book “Blue Bird”
[su_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmqK7qFbiBc” width=”400″]
What are your views on feminism?
I think its something everyone should embrace. It basically means the sexes should be treated equally. There’s still a gap in terms of payment. And there’s a difference between white and black women. it should be intersectional. In mainstream feminism, its all about white women and they don’t acknowledge that race plays a factor.
More women are supporting each other do you think a change will come out of that? How do you think we’ve gotten to this place?
I don’t know how it happened. I think it goes back to the point that people are proud of their blackness. Take Beyonce for example, she’s being herself and owning her blackness. I think it’s just that time where people are awakening. And realizing they can be themselves and don’t need to package themselves into a box to appeal to certain people. In terms of women supporting each other, I think that’s great! I think a lot of men are waking up, but I think it’s a lot of room for growth in that area.
With the #Metoo movement ( a movement founded to help survivors of sexual violence) some men are complaining that women are just seeking attention and looking for checks. The thing is when you’re sexually assaulted you don’t tell people. Most women I know have been through some shit. They don’t understand the shame that comes with it. There are men who have been sexually assaulted, but the thing is no one shares it. It isn’t until I’m having a conversation with someone and they share what they went through and I’m left in awe because I’m like another one. So many women in my family have been through it. When a woman comes out its nothing for them to gain at this point its to be free, and sometimes releasing the trauma helps them to do so.
What has your experience in Korea been like? Did you have any racist experiences?
It’s mainly been positive. There have been some incidents. She recounts her first-year experience in Korea when an old woman punched her in the face and called the cops and she ended up being held responsible. A lot of times black people aren’t given the benefit of the doubt they assume you’re the problem.
Also, at my job the first year they blamed the loss of students on me because I was black; Afterwards, hired a white teacher and sent out a newsletter promotion showcasing their “new teacher”, but didn’t do that for me. A lot of students have said derogatory things about me, ” African monkey” “Blackface” “Monster” “you’re ugly” it doesn’t come from them it comes from their parents and lack of exposure.
I left Korea very angry.
Would you recommend black people to travel to Korea being that you had those experiences?
I would definitely say come anyway. I would say there’s more good than bad. The art scene you meet a lot of interesting people. The nightlife is fun but after awhile there is a lot that weighs in on you. The thing about being black is, we are hated everywhere, you can’t let that stop you from traveling.
With the book Blue Bird, what is it that you hope readers will take away?
I want people to feel that they can be themselves unapologetically. When I write I write for myself, but I write for everyone. Anybody can read the book and get the message. For example, after watching Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer project and seeing her own her queerness it made me appreciate who I am– that I can be the full spectrum of who I am. So when people read my book I want them to see how I’m owning who I am despite society telling me to hate myself. And that, in turn, can make them proud to be who they are.
How does it feel to have published your first book?
It was really stressful at first and I had some anxiety due to Amazon sending out the wrong book to the customers. I also didn’t have time to digest it –I found a publishing company who was interested in submissions; So now, I’m sending in my second book by tonight. But, so far it’s really been good, its getting exposure and people are reading it and I’m getting good feedback.
Whats a key lesson you’ve learned through your writing experience and a key lesson Korea has taught you?
The lesson that has been a theme throughout my life is you’re never done learning. With this book, it taught me that I have to continually improve as a writer. I don’t want to be dubbed an “IG poet” and I take my art seriously (Cues Erykah Badu “I’m sensitive about my shit”) I’m in a poetry workshop now. I want to be respected by other poets, but most importantly I want to be proud of myself.
Lesson from Korea
I’m a very independent person. Living in Korea taught me I need PEOPLE. Having a partner is something I realized the importance of. Having a partner helps you grow. I love so many people and so many people love me and they are imperfect and it just speaks to how love is a powerful force. Those are the lessons I’ve been pondering these days.
Complete the following sentences with your thoughts.
Beautiful. Love can change your life. You need love. I’m thinking about my nieces who are so tiny, but they are love. Love makes life worth living; if you don’t have love what do you have?
Being a woman is…
Power. I see it as powerful. We’re emotionally strong we go through so much shit. You may talk to a woman but you don’t know how much she had to go through to be sitting here in front of you. We deal with so much to be a great mom and partner constantly working on ourselves. That’s what I’ve noticed about the women in my life.
Healing. Art helped me to deal with all the shit I was going through creating that video helped me. I was wondering how people saw me as I walked down the street and the stereotypes they had attached. Now I’m like I am who i am. I’m healing for yourself and for others. it’s so overwhelming when others say your work helped me to love myself more.
Writing to me…
is everything–I’m so blessed i have this outlet its just such a huge part of my life. My phone is filled with poems and writings i don’t know what id do without it. I want to start writing articles again. I want to express my opinions more about what I’m passionate about right now that’s race and gender.
Source. I know my writing comes from God i see what i create as a co-creation. I’m like God what do the people need to hear, what are we doing here? That’s really how I’ve seen it. God isn’t flesh its an energy. Deep down we need to sit down and think about who we are.
For more Magda Ayuk
FB: Magda Ayuk