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'Men need help too'

MAKING A STAND: Careen Latoya believes attitudes towards men should change

CAREEN LATOYA was born in Jamaica and stayed there until she came to London at the age of 11, where she has remained ever since. Her love for poetry means she spends a lot of her time writing, listening to music and reading.

Her new book, Naked Lenses, written from a single woman’s perspective, was inspired by the startlingly handsome man she spotted in her gym.

“I was going to the gym quite often last year and I kept seeing this guy,” she says.

"We got the same bus, and he sat across from me one time. At that point, I thought, 'You're a very handsome guy'. I can't draw, but I can write, so I began to write it all down, and I knew I wanted to do a second book and that I wanted to do it from a single lady's perspective.

“However, I didn’t know how exactly I was going to do it – the scene, what the story was, and how it was going to be portrayed, but I knew it was going to be from the point of view that I was single and it started from there.”

The 27 year-old’s father also has a role to play, as he was the first person to give her an insight into men, and was the inspiration behind a poem she wrote, which she includes in the book. Latoya describes her style of poetry writing as real and honest, adding:

MIC READY: Careen Latoya performing spoken word

“I tend to try and capture what I see and feel, and even if it doesn't directly affect me. I'm still going for it.
"It's rare that I write something from fantasy. I have to be in a very experimental mood, so generally I’m trying to make a point. I’m not trying to be comedic or get people to like it – I want to make points heard, to stay real and as honest as I can be.”

Naked Lenses is a book made-up of 52 longer pieces and 14 shorter ones.

Latoya spent time examining the behaviours of different men that she had came in contact with during her everyday life. She says:

“Through this, I’ve seen many more guys who look pained – like they are troubled with something. Even through the media’s eyes, we are taught to fear, so if we see a Muslim man, at the back of our mind
is, ‘I wonder if’. That’s because of everything that’s happened recently. As soon as there’s a bomb or attack, it’s assumed it’s a Muslim– nothing else is classed as terrorism useless there is a Muslim involved.”

Latoya takes inspiration from the late Maya Angelou, particularly her book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. She says:

“To see how much she had been through and the way she writes, there is something about it. You just sit there in awe – this woman had been through a lot, she had the strength to write, and her writing is very inspiring.”

Latoya hopes to get the message across to men that it’s okay to open up and to make mistakes, and that females play an important role in helping them to heal.

“Females need to start embracing them a lot more, because sometimes I feel it affects so much. I heard someone say recently, ‘I’m trying to raise a man’. We shouldn’t be attempting to raise men. At that point I came to realise that really, our role is to help them heal, because a lot of them have their pains as well as females – but it’s easier for us to get it out and be able to say, ‘I need help’. We will go and find someone to talk to, where as we force men not to talk, and then say, ‘You’re not my child’, or we try to turn them into the men we want them to be.

“When they leave us, we say, ‘I’m the reason you are the way you are’, but if we help them to heal, then it is from mutual love, and it’s not from trying to create mini robots or the male versions of ourselves.”

Careen Latoya’s book will be available to purchase from the November 4. Visit for more information.

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