TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Every February, National Black History Month commemorates the triumphs, contributions and struggles experienced by the African American community throughout US history. This year’s theme, “African Americans and the Arts,” highlights how art contributes to this narrative. For a Tyndall Airman team he serves as one
tools for expression, connection and social critique.
Staff Sgt. Denise Ntow, Airey NCO Academy NCO in charge of the student registration office, uses her passion for poetry, within her two self-published books, to explore themes such as grief, racism, self-reflection , resilience and love, among others.
topics to communicate and connect.
“[Poetry] it is a connecting point, just like music, between different races and cultures,” said Ntow. “If we continue to try to open our minds to the arts, we can continue to create connections as a people and as different races and cultures.”
With her family originally from Ghana, raised as a first-generation citizen born in the US, the author experienced the duality of assimilating to a culture that was different from her home. At the same time, as a young woman, she was navigating the process of finding herself and meaning
of the world.
With her father’s encouragement, she eventually wrote down her thoughts and feelings in her first poem.
“Years [went by after my first poem]and me [left] for basic training in 2017,” recalled Staff Sgt. Now. “One day after tech school, I get a call that my father has died. I took it very seriously. I was new to the Air Force, a brand new job, getting ready to PCS to the UK and everything was so new.”
Ntou explained that she started talking about the pain she was feeling through writing. From there, she began routinely jotting down lines until eventually those reflections became a full poem, then a book.
She published her first book, The Caged Will Talk About Free, in 2020, followed by her second book, Haven’t I Given Everything? in 2021. Ntow described her first book as an introduction to a woman discovering herself and dealing with grief, heartbreak and themes related to race. Her follow-up book is a continuing exploration of those feelings and more.
Ntou described her most beloved poem, titled “Beautiful,” as a poem addressed to a young black man who has felt discriminated against in every way.
An excerpt from the poem is as follows:
“You are beautiful
with a tone that is comparable to gold. Through your actions,
you can rewrite the false stories we’ve been told.”
“[The poem] it stands out to me because of the reality of it… talking to a young person about what they might be going through; however, if they search within themselves, they can use the tools with them to overcome things,” said Ntow.
The published author defined poetry as a means of communicating with certain groups of people. She explained that the poem opens the dialogue in such a way that, “no one feels guilty and then if someone feels another way, at least it will open their mind to what other race
Ntou encouraged others to let art be the gateway to creating conversations about people’s thoughts, feelings and lives. She said that poetry shows others that there is freedom in words and expression, it is a space to expose one’s inner self.
Ntow said she joined the military not only to regain structure, but to broaden her perspective by being part of a diverse community. Ultimately, she hopes to make a difference and encourage others in the ways she has been able to process her thoughts through poetry.
“My main thing was wanting to provide someone else with something that could help them get through another stressful time,” Ntow said. “You may be going through the hardest part of your life…but if you stick it out, you’ll have a story to tell that will help others. So there’s always tomorrow. Just hold on to it.”
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|TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, FL, US
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