Bassey Ikpi: I’m Telling the Truth, but I’m Lying
Where: Books Are Magic
225 Smith St.
718-246-2665 Price: Free
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Bassey Ikpi was born in Nigeria in 1976. Four years later, she and her mother joined her father in Stillwater, Oklahoma —a move that would be anxiety ridden for any child, but especially for Bassey. Her early years in America would come to be defined by tension: an assimilation further complicated by bipolar II and anxiety that would go undiagnosed for decades.
By the time she was in her early twenties, Bassey was a spoken word artist and traveling with HBO’s Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam, channeling her experiences into art. But something wasn’t right—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.
Determined to learn from her experiences—and share them with others—Bassey became a mental health advocate and has spent the fourteen years since her diagnosis examining the ways mental health is inextricably intertwined with every facet of ourselves and our lives. 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.
Bassey (BOSS-ee) Ikpi is a Nigerian-born American spoken-word poet, writer, and mental health advocate. She has appeared on HBO’s Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam five times and her poetry has opened shows for Grammy Award-winning artists.
Melissa Febos is the author of the memoir, Whip Smart (St. Martin’s Press 2010), and the essay collection, Abandon Me (Bloomsbury 2017), which was a LAMBDA Literary Award finalist, a Publishing Triangle Award finalist, an Indie Next Pick, and was widely named a Best Book of 2017. Febos is the inaugural winner of the Jean Córdova Nonfiction Award from LAMBDA Literary and the recipient of the 2017 Sarah Verdone Writing Award from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. She has been awarded fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Vermont Studio Center, The Barbara Deming Memorial Foundation, The BAU Institute, and Ragdale. Her essays have recently appeared in Tin House, Granta, The Believer, and The New York Times. She lives in Brooklyn.
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