Feature Friday Guest Poet Courtney 'Skipp' Schipper Presents 'Hi, My Name Is...'

Non-Binary Artist
Image of Courtney 'Skipp' Schipper

HI, MY NAME IS

Courtney 'Skipp' Schipper

Hi, my name is Courtney Micaela,
I am 24, and I am a girl.
My birth certificate gives up a lot of information.

I love my body―
Some days.
I mean, I do today
But ask me again tomorrow and my answer might change.

Some days this body is a gift to me
I rejoice in the curves of my hips and my chest feels like something
to be proud of
On these days, I wing my eyeliner sharp enough to cut a man,
I bare red lipstick like blood flowing through my veins
And stand tall under this bright, neon light labelled "Woman"
But my name still feels like my most comfortable sweater.

On these days, I swear
I will never cut my hair again.
I long for something to flow over my shoulders and frame my face
On these days,
I look in the mirror and I feel like the owner of this body.

But other days
I am just a renter in it
A tenant desperate to paint these walls with tattoos and ever-changing
haircuts
To give myself a sense of ownership.

On these days
I contour my cheekbones just a bit more,
Style my hair back
Fill my eyebrows in
On these days
Sports bras and loose fitting shirts are my closest friends.

I flatten myself as much as I can
And even with a tighter chest,
I find it so much easier to breathe.

My name feels like an insult in a foreign tongue.

I look in the mirror and something flickering in the neon sign above
me just doesn't feel right,
Still it shines bright enough to hurt my eyes
To hurt me…
To hush me into silence.

I wish I could wash the label off me
On the days I scrub my skin in the shower unable to look down
To see parts of me growing in places my body has no space for
Exterminating what lives in these walls
Only making more room for frowns…

Remember, my mother has said my name is a gift, given to me at
birth.
But so were clothes and baby blankets
And it's not my fault those just don't fit anymore.

There is a path forward here
A path lined with family battles
And Facebook
And friends who might not think this wise
But it is a path lined with gold if only I’m brave enough to take to it
with pride

So, I stand here
On this stage
Taking my first baby steps…

Hi, my name is Skipp
I am 24 years old
I'm not quite a boy and I'm not quite a girl
And I use They/Them pronouns.

About the Author:

Courtney Schipper, better known on and off the spoken word stage as ‘Skipp’ is a South African creative who has worked their ingenuity into artistic expressions such as poetry and professional body modification.

Their poetic endeavours have seen them continuously featured on the widely loved stage of Railways Café through Gauteng-born poetry association Writer’s Bloc International as well as several online platforms since the boom of Zoom.
In the heart of the lockdown, Skipp putting pen to paper finally came together in the binding of an awe-inspiring poetic collection titled, “For Love of Them” facilitated by Johannesburg-based publishing house, Chasing Dreams Publishing. Their debut poetry collection tells the story of a non-binary person journeying through love, loss and self-discovery sharing a poignant message of acceptance in a world still fearful of what they do not understand.

“I started writing after a tenth-grade teacher taught me how to get my emotions on paper and onto the stage – then I did it for me. Eventually, I wrote and performed to show others they are never truly alone. It has helped me connect with people, even more so in my workspace as a body modifier at a tattoo parlour. I've met so many different people with so many unique stories and writing always reminds me that it is my way of getting my story out into the world."

Follow Skipp on Instagram for all their poetic updates on their personal account or their poetry account. You can also support the growth of LGBTQ+ African literature by purchase a copy of For Love of Them right here on our website!

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