Yalie Saweda Kamara: Besaydoo

The Common Good podcast is a conversation about the significance of place, eliminating economic isolation and the structure of belonging.  In this episode, Joey Taylor and Devin Bustin speak with Yalie Saweda Kamara about her new book, Besaydoo.

Yalie Saweda Kamara, Ph.D. is a Sierra Leonean-American writer, educator, professor and researcher from Oakland, California. She currently lives in Cincinnati and is the 2022-2023 Cincinnati and Mercantile Library Poet Laureate.

Yalie, Joey and Dustin explore her poetry, belonging, practices to prime oneself for tenderness, parenting for fear versus openness, liberation through research and literature, and the art of being present to the world around us.



Yalie read the following poems from Besaydoo:

  • Besaydoo
  • Space
  • American Beach



While sipping coffee in my mother’s Toyota, we hear the birdcall of two teenage boysin the parking lot: Aiight, one says, Besaydoo, the other returns, as they reachfor each other. Their cupped handshake pops like the first, fat, firecrackers of summer,

their fingers shimmy as if they’re solving a Rubik’s cube just beyond our sight. Momentslater, their Schwinns head in opposite directions. My mother turns to me, revealing themilky, John-Waters-mustache-thin foam on her upper lip, Wetin dem bin say?

Besaydoo? Nar English? she asks, tickled by this tangle of new language. Alright.Be safe dude, I pull apart each syllable like string cheese for her. Oh yah, dem nar real padi,she smiles, surprisingly broken by the tenderness expressed by what half my family might call

thugs. Besaydoo. Besaydoo. Besaydoo, we chirp in the car, then nightly into our phonesafter I leave California. Besaydoo, she says as she softly muffles the rattling of my bonesin newfound sobriety. Besaydoo, I say years later, her response made raspy by an oxygen

treatment at the ER. Besaydoo, we whisper to each other across the country. Likesome word from deep in a somewhere too newborn-pure for the outdoors, but wesaw those two boys do it, in broad daylight, under a decadent, ruinous, sun.


Besaydoo | Milkweed Editions



Her new book of poetry, Besaydoo, will be released on January 9th. Preorder now!


The musical excerpt was Ponta de Lança Africano by Jorge Ben.

Devin Bustin is a writer and teacher who lives in Loveland, Ohio. Growing up, Devin attended well over a dozen schools across Canada and the United States. This gave him a longing to know specific places, to connect with openness, and to create belonging. Raised Pentecostal, Devin wrestles with the faith he inherited, often through fiction, essays, and poetry. He is often working on a song, and his emergent work can be found at devinbustin.com.

This episode was produced by Joey Taylor and the music is from Jeff Gorman. You can find more information about the Common Good Collective here. Common Good Podcast is a production of Bespoken Live & Common Change – Eliminating Personal Economic Isolation.


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