Lucinda Canty: Poetry and Visual Art

This artwork was inspired by my dissertation research “It’s Not Always Rainbows and Unicorns: The Lived Experience of Severe Maternal Morbidity among Black Women” (University of Connecticut, 2020). Van Manen’s Interpretative Phenomenology was the methodology for this study and allowed me to use my creative and artistic resources to enhance the understanding of the essential themes that emerged from the experience of the women in the study. This process was empowering for me because it gave me the opportunity to do something that I am passionate about to capture my research findings.  This process was not about just painting a picture, it was about understanding what these women went through during childbirth and postpartum, then expressing that using  art. I received positive responses from the women, feeling that it captured what they described to me. 

My poetry is inspired by everyday events and reflection of those events as a Black woman, a Black nurse-midwife. Poetry has always been an important part of my life, providing me an outlet to express pain as well as triumphs that I experienced.

The Belly of the Beast

I fell deep within the belly of beast
To understand that your truth was full of lies
Not just any white lies
Lies that would question
My worth
My values
My history
My pain
My life
That could end my life
Diminish my dreams
I had to go deep within the belly of the beast to understand
Why you didn’t want me here
Why you didn’t want me to survive
Why you created this narrative
That would only bring me harm
It was a difficult pill to swallow
To realize I was living a reality
That was not mine to live
It was deep within the Belly of the Beast
Where I knew I had no choice but to
Dismantle your story and reexamine mine
Now I could clearly see
My strength
My heart
My passion
My love
My spirit
My life
My path out of the Belly of the Beast
And that’s my truth!
That’s my story

© 2021 Lucinda Canty

This Land We call America

I sit in the complexities of life
Wondering if I will ever feel safe
As a Black woman
On this land we call America
You call the land of the free, the home of the brave
Free, Brave
I wish those words could mean the same thing to me
And the sons and daughters I will birth on
This land that my ancestors built
This Land called America
Built on the backs of Black bodies 
A forgotten history
Of birth, pain, of suffering
But also of Resilience and determination
It is because of Black women that I am here
I am inflicted with 400 years of harm
Still affecting the treatment of my womb
A black body I am still trying to control today
In a health care system
Where I should feel safe
But we all know I may not survive
You act like you don’t see me
You pretend you don’t hear me
You turn your head away from the treatment
You know is killing me
Afraid to look in my eyes
Afraid I am going to tell you the truth
You need to know who I am
To understand why I fight
Just to safely give birth
On this land we call America

© 2021 Lucinda Canty

Loving Myself Again

I am able to clearly see my path and
Recognize my purpose again
After doubts surfaced from sleepless nights,
Lack of nourishment, time limits
Feeling alone in my fight
Feeling that I am never going to measure up, I mean catch up
Wanting to drink that bottle of wine, but knowing I have so much to do
Hoping if I could just make it to Friday,
So that Saturday I could start all over again
I could not see what was right in front of me,
“Who is that woman in the mirror?” “Why is she here?”
“What does she want?” “What is it going to cost her?”
Love helped me answer those questions
Love helped me see why I am here
I know that woman
Black, beautiful, caring and growing
Into the nurse that I want to be
I love seeing that woman
Watching her walk down that path
of loving herself again.

© 2020 Lucinda Canty

I Wonder

I wait and I wonder
As I sit in this world
Among possibilities 
Desires to be understood
Desires to be seen

I wait and I wonder
What does my existence really mean
Contributions unrecognized 
Value minimized
Others flourish in my demise

Ancestors endured
Ancestors believed
If is was not for them 
I would not been able to achieve

History acknowledged
It not only about me
The legacy I leave
Creating a space for others 
who look like me 
to safely be

I wait and I wonder
As I sit in this world
Among possibilities 
Desires to be understood
Desires to be seen

I wait and I wonder
What does my existence really mean
Contributions unrecognized 
Value minimized
Others flourish in my demise

Ancestors endured
Ancestors believed
If is was not for them 
I would not been able to achieve

History acknowledged
It not only about me
The legacy I leave
Creating a space for others 
who look like me 
to safely be

© 2020 Lucinda Canty

Visual Art

Paintings from my dissertation research (University of Connecticut 2020):

Black Woman Pregnant 
Black Woman Pregnant

Black Woman Pregnant This artwork represents how race matters in pregnant Black women’s lives. Race Matters. What do we see when we see a Pregnant Black woman. 

_________________________

Uncertainty 
Uncertainty

Uncertainty represents the emotional space the women found themselves when they realized they might not survive the complication. In this dark place, they felt afraid, alone, and helpless. 

Safe and Well Cared For
Safe and Well Cared For

Safe and Well Cared This artwork represents how women felt when they trusted and established a relationship with health care providers. 

Still Healing 
Still Healing

Still Healing This artwork represents the long process of healing after suffering a life-threatening complication. Although the women healed physically, it took time to recover mentally.

Rainbows
Rainbows

Rainbows represent the Black woman when she enters the health care system for childbirth and suffers a life-threatening complication. There are so many factors that cloud her childbirth experience. 

________________________

About Lucinda Canty

I am a first-generation college graduate. I attended Columbia University, Yale University and recently received my PhD in Nursing from the University of Connecticut. While my resume is impressive, it is not what I value most about myself. What I value most about who I am, is that I am a Black, African American woman. Being a Black woman is the foundation of everything else that I represent. I am a Black woman first then I am a mother, nurse, nurse-midwife, nurse-researcher and nurse educator. Being a Black woman in this country represents a painful history, but it also represents strength and resilience.