Sainabou Jack on Boundaries



  • Sainabou Jack is an architect at BPTW, one of our Festival Club members. Her piece was one of two chosen entries selected by the practice following an internal ‘Boundaries’ competition run for its staff.


“‘Boundless’ is a poem inspired by some of my personal experiences studying and working in architecture as a BAME woman. The intention of the poem is to highlight some of the limitations and struggles faced by minority groups within the construction industry; issues which have recently been highlighted through campaigns such as the LFA’s own Elephant Campaign, and brought to light in Building Magazine’s recent diversity survey published last month. I hope to draw attention to the need for a more inclusive environment in which people do not feel disadvantaged or discriminated against based on their race, gender, age, disability or sexual orientation” Sainabou Jack





I am not defined by the boundaries

Set to exclude rather than include;

The boundaries that are designed

To keep out my class, my gender, my kind;

The boundaries so constricted that

They only allow room for a few;

The boundaries that only let in the (stereo)typical member of the Club

Where most look a certain way and in turn look at me a certain way;

The boundaries that constantly remind me I’m different

Even when I try to fit in;

The boundaries that make it okay

To be observed, touched and poked as though I was alien;

The boundaries that make it not okay

For me to express myself, my culture, my ideas…


I am not defined by the boundaries

That separate instead of unite;

The boundaries that make me stand out

As the odd one out;

The boundaries that see me as emotionless enough

To warrant the stares and inappropriate comments;

The boundaries that deem my name

Too foreign to be hired;

The boundaries that acknowledge and reward

Based on intrinsic identity instead of skill;

The boundaries that put me back in my place

Whenever I strive to progress;

The boundaries that make me think twice before writing these words

For fear of being further sidelined…

I am beyond these boundaries.


Image: Boundary sketch by Sainabou Jack

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