Bassey Ikpi’s essay collection I’m Telling the Truth, but I’m Lying, published by Harper Collins, is out on August 20, 2019.
Bassey Ikpi is a spoken-word poet, writer, and mental health advocate who has spent her life between Nigeria, where she was born, and the United States. In the United States, she has appeared on HBO’s Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry five times and her poetry has opened shows for Grammy Award-winning artists. In Nigeria, she set up “Basseyworld Presents Naija Poetry Slam” the first national poetry slam competition in Nigeria. Her poetry has featured in Rookie On Love as well as Who Will Speak for America?
While she is known mainly as an artist for her poetry, Ikpi has a new collection of essays published by Harper Collins on the way. The blurb for the new publication goes thus;
In ‘I’m Telling the Truth, but I’m Lying,’ Bassey Ikpi explores her life—as a Nigerian-American immigrant, a black woman, a slam poet, a mother, a daughter, an artist—through the lens of her mental health and diagnosis of bipolar II and anxiety. Her remarkable memoir in essays implodes our preconceptions of the mind and normalcy as Bassey bares her own truths and lies for us all to behold with radical honesty and brutal intimacy.
From her early childhood in Nigeria through her adolescence in Oklahoma, Bassey Ikpi lived with a tumult of emotions, cycling between extreme euphoria and deep depression—sometimes within the course of a single day. By the time she was in her early twenties, Bassey was a spoken word artist and traveling with HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, channeling her life into art. But beneath the façade of the confident performer, Bassey’s mental health was in a precipitous decline, culminating in a breakdown that resulted in hospitalization and a diagnosis of Bipolar II.
In ‘I’m Telling the Truth, But I’m Lying,’ Bassey Ikpi breaks open our understanding of mental health by giving us intimate access to her own. Exploring shame, confusion, medication, and family in the process, Bassey looks at how mental health impacts every aspect of our lives—how we appear to others, and more importantly to ourselves—and challenges our preconception about what it means to be “normal.” Viscerally raw and honest, the result is an exploration of the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of who we are—and the ways, as honest as we try to be, each of these stories can also be a lie.
You can pre-order your copy of this book at the following web address.
Incidentally, if you are in Nigeria you can see her launch this new publication in Lagos at the Ake Book and Arts Festival in October. Another reason not to miss the Ake Festival this year.
You should also follow her on Twitter. She is really awesome there.
Please note: An earlier version of this blog stated that the book would be out on August 6. We have changed the release date to August 20 with prompting from the author.