Phanesia Pharel '21

It is often said that great art is created during troubled times, so it should come as no surprise that Barnard — well-known for its alumnae writers — has seen this trend continue as the “twin pandemics” of COVID-19 and a renewed focus on racial injustice and violence sweep the world. In this new limited series, Barnard community members share poems and songs that speak to this unique moment in time. (If you would like to contribute, please email

Today, we feature Phanésia Pharel '21's poem "All night typing."

All night typing

All night typing
Because I have stories 
That can outlive me 
I should go to bed. After all, there’s no rush. 
Toni Morrison was 40 when she published. 
Maybe the streets weren’t promised, maybe a bed with a man wasn’t promised, maybe the hospital wasn’t promised. 
But single — in her own room — locked door the worst that could be is a robber and that’s rare….
But I’m in 2020. When I close my eyes. Bullets can find me. 
Breonna Taylor 
I’m in 2020. 
I can sit next to a man on the subway. Pick up my groceries. Slurp my lentils that night and drop three days later. 
All night typing. 
One of these plays need to promise me a life worth living. 
Since every time I get on an app and I ask a friend if they’re okay they tell me—
I’m scared. 
My black ass has been scared the whole time. 
I’m not surprised.
Because when I was a baby my dad put me on my knees whipped me and yelled — blood in the eyes — white man pouring out his brain — calling him niggerboy — making him hate his nigger daughter. 
Telling me 
This is a true story. 
So I have bad memory because who would want to remember all the things. 
Being a black girl in America is enough to make you want to forget. 
All night typing
It helps me remember
So that if I die
My truth will live onstage