Valentine’s Day has become a special holiday for SUNY Oswego student Rickey Strachan, as for the second year in a row he published a brand new book of poetry, this one titled “What I Did With Those Words.” 

This book serves as a sequel of sorts to his first publication “Things Cupid Whispered” in 2021. While the first book examined love through a romantic lens, “What I Did With Those Words” is much more about self-love and the steps necessary to get there. 

“The first book was just about me getting over heartbreak,” Strachan said. “I realized love is a beautiful thing but it’s best expressed when already felt by self…. I have a whole chapter in it (the second book) called “Loving Oneself” which is a poetry collection of affirmations for people who don’t really realize how beautiful they are before they start to compliment another person's beauty.”

The business administration major from Brooklyn cited the past year as a major development for him and felt it was vital in being able to publish this new book in the way that he did. 

“I’ve changed a lot since I wrote the first one,” Strachan said, noting the new book is twice as long. “There’s just a physical and mental difference in the way that I carried myself and the way that I printed it. It’s visible.” 

While this personal growth helped to guide this project, he was sure to cite his friend Ziyah Myers as another factor in being able to fully accomplish the book's goal.

Myers had written around four poems for the book and Strachan felt they added a necessary and vital perspective to the project. He describes them as a call and response between the two of them, and feels that the book wouldn’t have been complete without her contribution. 

Strachan envisions this being a trilogy of books but he’s not sure what subjects he will dive into after finishing the third one. What he is certain of, however, is that it will be something within the realm of poetry once again. 

“I could do any writing I want but there’s just something about poetry and how many things you can do within a poem that really makes me always go back to my root,” said Strachan, pointing out the universal appeal of poetry as an art form that allows anyone to partake in it. 

Public performance

Strachan was able to utilize his expression on a very public platform this month as well, as he had the opportunity to read a poem of his own for the Martin Luther King Celebration on Feb. 9. When asked about the opportunity to have spoken at the event, he noted that it was an honor and a bit of a challenge.

“Full disclosure: I’ve had a huge issue with writing poems for social justice,” said Strachan. “It’s just because there are so many faces and outlets as to what it means to express our overarching issues with what society does to us as people.”

But Strachan’s poem, “Melanated Daydreaming,” was exactly what the committee was looking for, allowing him to properly articulate his truth to a wider audience and show “a face of Black people that isn’t often seen.” The poem and performance received an appreciative reception at the event.

He also expressed gratitude for the timing of these events, feeling that they were the perfect way of epitomizing his development as both a writer and a person.

“I was honored to be asked because it’s Angela Davis. I genuinely am surprised that this is even happening in my lifetime,” Strachan emphasized. “To be able to give back to her physically and watch me say these words, just imagining that is surreal.”

Those interested in buying a copy of his books can connect with Strachan via his Instagram account, @Rickrhymz, or can find both "What I Did With Those Words" and "Things Cupid Whispered" on Amazon.

 -- Written by Bryce Levac of the Class of 2023