Black Octagon: Intimate Noir is best described as the mental state I lived in, with issues of abandonment and emotional unavailability I displayed and witnessed in my relationships. Some of my poems, letters, and essays are intimate details of my experiences with Black men and the dysfunction and pathology that I tried so very hard to break away from and understand. Some of my work celebrates my love and honor for Black men, while others color my insecurities and frustration in those relationships.
Itasska L. Chatman was born in Minneapolis, MN, named after the beautiful Lake Itasca (“up north”). It is the head waters of the Mississippi River which runs through the “Twins cities”, Minneapolis and St. Paul, and the bridge separating the two. Her mother, who was eight months pregnant, along with her father, noticed the small lake on a map that served as the source of the river while they were getting their marriage license. When her mother gave birth, she was inspired by the name on the map so much that she named her daughter after it and changed the spelling, to her version, a “Southern twist” because the Mississippi travels through Memphis, Tennessee, where her parents are from. Itasska grew up in South Minneapolis. She attended Roosevelt Senior High School, where she enjoyed taking art classes from her favorite teacher, Mrs. Dove and cheerleading with her fellow “Teddies”. She also credits her love of language to her English classes. Itasska later went on to Brown College and received her associate’s degree in visual communications in 2002. After graduating, not being able to find work with her degree, she took a local job, where she has been for many years. However, she is now pursuing her bachelor’s degree in business with specialization in health care management. Ms. Chatman currently resides in St. Paul and looking for the next inspiration.