A Poem to Spotlight the Issue of Sexual Abuse In honor of National Domestic Violence Month, spoken word artist Dasan Ahanu reads his poem "Can I," which he wrote while conducting sexual-assault awareness and education training with men in Durham, N.C. Ahanu teaches at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.

A Poem to Spotlight the Issue of Sexual Abuse

A Poem to Spotlight the Issue of Sexual Abuse

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In honor of National Domestic Violence Month, spoken word artist Dasan Ahanu reads his poem "Can I," which he wrote while conducting sexual-assault awareness and education training with men in Durham, N.C. Ahanu teaches at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.

FARAI CHIDEYA, host:

This month is National Domestic Violence Month. We're re-airing a poem written and read by spoken word artist Dasan Ahanu. He wrote this while doing sexual assault education with men in Durham, North Carolina.

Mr. DASAN AHANU (Spoken Word Artist): This poem is called Can I.

I want to dry your tears and hold you until comfort sets into your skin like Icy Hot and everyone can smell your new day coming. Because your body needs it, your soul needs it, your spirit needs it and he tried way too hard to take it.

Too many times he blamed you, yelled at you, insulted you. Too many long nights sleeping away the pain and you never expected it to be like this. When you signed your name on the dotted line and contracted a disease you never expected: A disease called HIM.

A power hungry man who never gave a clue, they usually never do. Two sides of doom, one lulls you in so compassionate and caring. The other captures you so intense, it's so angry and it should never be like this.

It pains me to know that one-in-four women live like this, that fatality comes from the hand of a partner more than the hand of a stranger. And you are caught in his web. I wish I could rub my fingers down your cheek and sing you songs of a new day. Like Ask Me by Amy Grant, Better Days by Guy Clark, How Come, How Long by Babyface.

You are Gloria Gaynor and you will survive. And if necessary we can be like Dixie Chicks and tamper with his black-eyed peas and run off together, leaving behind a missing person that no one misses at all.

You are strength. You don't deserve it. Made it through the constant resistance to not losing to a swinging fist. And it should never be like this.

Your skin is beautiful. Is a leopard horrific because it has spots? I make you laugh because I say your complexion has character. But there is no quick healing factor. And I know that you wish for wolverine's claws so you can tear through his body of evidence that says that he should get it now.

His case stands on bond, but even in marriage no means no. Made it isolation and verbal attack, pinch pennies that he overlooked in his forced incarceration. Times must change and I want to help you plan.

So I wrote the poem Can I because I felt like that as a man I needed to address the violence that women faced. I've been working for about three years in sexual assault and rape awareness prevention trying to, you know, reach out to men and make them responsible for the violence that gets committed.

So the poem itself just kind of speaks from a man's point of view of looking and seeing and recognizing what the violence is. And as the poem goes on, I start to speak about how I'm there as a supporter and a secondary survivor to help her get through her situation, and saying that I'm willing to do whatever I need to do.

So it gives a sense of accountability and a sense of responsibility for stopping the violence.

CHIDEYA: That was poet Dasan Ahanu reading his poem Can I. Dasan co-founded the group, Men Against Rape Culture in Durham, North Carolina. He also teaches at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.

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CHIDEYA: Thanks for sharing your time with us. We'll be back tomorrow. To listen to the show, visit npr.org.

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CHIDEYA: I'm Farai Chideya. This is NEWS & NOTES.

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