The poem “Exhausted Woman” was written by Linda Kouamé, also known as L’Encre des Étoiles (Ink of the Stars). She won the Ivory Coast National Slam Poetry Championship in 2019 and will take part in the World Cup of Slam Poetry 2021, in Paris and Belleville, France. L’Encre des Étoiles was born in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. She is a student of communications and political science, and a member of the Ivory Coast School for Poets, which fosters poetry through reading, writing, and performance.
With some friends, we have created an urban poetry group to stand up for the causes of girls and women. Through our writings, we impact society, expose the abuse against women, and also talk about their rights.
Because on her rested
I am a woman tired of being strong
Tired of being a tireless woman
I offer my body as life support
In return I drink the frustration from the well of my distress
I am tired of being this woman who awakes before the blossoming of the day
And sleeps after the death of the night.
This woman is obliged to be solid
The future of her couple
However before being a mother and a spouse
I am a woman
Free like a bird
Searching for a space to express her architectural talent
Made of skin and bone
And not of iron and stone.
I am this woman who does not have the right to fail
Because for her to be slapped would be unacceptable
In the eyes of society
This woman who does not have the right to cry
Because she might flood the soul of her man.
I am this woman who does not have the right to say no
Because I must be the yes man of a society that couldn’t care less about me.
Even when my smile
Is lifeless, I must brighten his heart.
Disfigured by his blows received as gifts
My duty ordered me to remain silent.
My rights locked in the tomb
I should be mute.
And when he rapes my existence
It is a marital duty
My body is no longer my property
According to the clause after saying yes you will belong to him.
Femicide all day long
The ears of justice are blocked
The cries of strong women
Revolted, she is treated like a rebel
According to this masculine tradition
According to which
She must drink her pain in silence.
You will be born girl,
You will grow up spouse,
And you will die mother
Society has told me.
The author says her work aims to “promote, through writing, women’s issues, denouncing the crisis women experience in our society. We expose the violence, the challenges, and the marginalization through our art, slam poetry.”