Poet Muse: Gladys May Casely-Hayford

zamantungwa | November 11th, 2016 | current issue, poet muses | No Comments

(educator, writer, 1904-1950)


My lips were buds of innocence until you

    came one day

And drew a fountain from my heart and

    careless went your way[1]

Born in Axim, Ghana, Gladys May Casely-Hayford was the daughter of a Ghanaian writer, lawyer and politician J.E. Casely Hayford and Sierra-Leonean activist, feminist and writer Adelaide Casely-Hayford neé Smith. Gladys May grew up being called Aquah Laluah and is said to have not liked studying but enjoyed reading, singing, dancing and poetry from an early age.

Through her mother’s endeavours, her first poems were published in the Atlantic Monthly. She was also published in The Philadelphia Tribune, and her poems Nativity (1927), The Serving Girl (1941) and Creation (1926) have been widely anthologized[2]. 

Gladys May wrote about subjects such as women freedom, pride, erotic love between women that were more controversial at the time. Her only collection, Take’um so, was published 1948. She passed away two years later in Freetown, Sierra Leon from blackwater fever.


[1] From the poem titled My Lips http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/a_f/casely/poems.htm

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gladys_Casely-Hayford

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