Samantha Adams is a 2018 Button Poetry Chapbook Finalist
We all know the stereotype that Black people can’t swim, but to Samantha Adams she always found that saying quite odd. As a Black woman, Adams can’t remember a time when she didn’t know how to swim. She’s been in swim since a little girl and her very first coach was a Black man.
Growing up, Adams was one of the very few Black people a part of her swim classes and teams. It took until attending Rufus King High School for Adams to be surrounded by more swimmers that looked like her. But it wasn’t until just recently that Adams sat down and thought about why her experience with swimming was so much different that other Black peoples.
Adams is currently attending the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor in a joint PhD program in English and Women’s Studies. She’s always had a love for poetry and didn’t want that to die out although she’s in a PhD program, so after talking with a friend she was invited to join a workshop. The workshop featured multiple poets that were editing their manuscripts with the goal of submitting it to the Button Poetry Chapbook contest. Adams joined the workshop bringing along with her, her poetry collection entitled “The Water Did A Good Thing”, which was written while she was attending the University of Wisconsin Madison.
To Adams’ surprise, she was selected as a finalist in the 2018 Button Poetry Chapbook contest. Button Poetry was founded in 2011 by Sam Cook and Sierra DeMulder, who were shortly joined by Rachele Cermak, and Heidi Lear. If Adams is selected as a winner, her work will be published in one of the Button’s chapbooks.
“I want to see how my poems circulate in the world,” she said about hopefully being published. She did state whether she wins or not, she’s going to find a way to become published. Adams is inspired by Mikey Apollo who is a self-published author that released her own book of poems entitled, “Black Girls, Silence And Other Things Made of Gold” over a year ago.
“I really admire her bravery,” she said.
The Water Did A Good Thing is a collection of 20 poems that according to Adams, touches on three things:
Adams’ own experiences in the water and reflecting on Black people’s relationships with the water and swimming.
How Adam navigates family memories and reflects on events she wasn’t present for.
Grappling with her feelings of shame and joy around her own eroticism and sexual desires as a Black woman.
Through Adams’ poetry she was able to come out to herself as Bisexual.
“[My poetry made me] feel completely comfortable expressing my desire to have sex,” said Adams. “It’s okay for me to be excited about sex.”
“Sometimes my words on a page speak up for me when I’m too afraid to say it aloud,” she added. "My poems are bolder than me.”
It took Adams a while to learn how to express herself to others but poetry was that gateway to doing so. She said it also helped that she was surrounded by people who she trusted to share her deepest feelings and emotions with. But the first step for her was being honest with herself and who she is.
She’s now ready to show the world who all of her is, and that’s a Black woman proudly from Milwaukee who is unapologetic about who she is and what she wants.
When it comes to swimming, Adams has enjoyed researching Black people’s history with the water. She eventually wants to open a swim school that is catered to Black and brown kids.
“It’s a necessary skill. It’s a life skill,” Adams said about the importance of teaching our youth how to swim.
To find out more about the Button Poetry Chapbook contest, visit their website.