Arianne Elena Payne is a Black writer, multidisciplinary creative, and aspiring historian
from Chicago, IL. She has received the 2022 Graybeal-Gowen Poetry Prize, the 2022 Virginia
Downs Poetry Award, and the 2019 Frederick Hartmann Poetry Prize. Her work has been
featured in Voicemail Poems, TORCH, and is forthcoming in The Shenandoah Review. Situated in the complexities and lyricism of Blackness, girlhood, and geographies of
resistance—her work strives to take Black people and their histories seriously. Follow Arianne
Am I Beautiful?
it’s always been a black thing to talk
smooth. maybe it’s swagger or survival—
a type of generational wealth, this way
we can speak of flowers & then bloom
even as we side-eye the shears ready
to prune & reduce for more “fruitful” growth.
no, i am not done dreaming of the shade,
all the ways a shadow struts & saves me.
our petals know we will wither. someone’s
auntie said, y’all better get to living.
she meant while we still could. at night
we welcome the breeze. let it tangle our words.
might say things we can’t be, might be things
we can’t say. yes, i see the stem of you & smile.
Torch Literary Arts is a 501(c)3 nonprofit established to publish and promote creative writing by Black women. We publish contemporary writing by experienced and emerging writers alike. TORCH has featured work by Colleen J. McElroy, Tayari Jones, Sharon Bridgforth, Crystal Wilkinson, Patricia Smith, Natasha Trethewey, Elizabeth Alexander, and others. Programs include the Wildfire Reading Series, writing workshops, and retreats.