Turning Up For The Process

Visual Journal 08/05

I feel as if I’ve hit a sweet spot at the moment in terms of my visual journaling/ journaling/ art journaling. sharing my practice is helping.

I’m filling my creative pot with images, text, words, voices and some are coming out on the page. But some I’m reluctant to bring out.

Again I’m thinking of my Mixmoir ( I’ll talk more about this soon) and how I’m censoring and silencing myself out of fear.

Fear of getting it wrong. Fear of failure. Fear of being branded a fake (again!).

But turning up each day for my visual journaling practice is supporting me to move forward to open the floodgates and to write the damn thing.

I trust the process and that’s all I need to do. The rest will follow.

Caribbean Queen

Caribbean Queen, 2020, Blue Curry

After Blue Curry and Billy Ocean

systematically punching holes in dried palm-tree frond flesh, traditional craft works, it may be

but what about leaving me to my natural beauty?

weaving in dark cassette tape chorusing Caribbean Queen, a fusion of soul, reggae, R & B and Pop, is this a sign of respect or ridicule?

imitation gold earrings, massive hoops that weigh me down at the same time as being ingrained in my identity.

do you mock the tourists who flock to buy these artefacts or do you mock my style handcrafted out of colonial oppression to mark the self as subject of self, rather than object, chattal?

This poem is part of a series of poems created during the month of April, 2022, as part of the poem a day challenge. You can read the rest of the poems created during this time here.

Aftershocks by Nadia Owusu

Aftershocks by Nadia Owusu

I received a scholarship from Lighthouse Writers to complete a four week course Reading as a Writer – Aftershocks by Nadia Owusu. It’s taught by Angelique Steven who is another brilliant memoir writer.

I really hadn’t heard of the book before this course but I was drawn to it as what I’d read from The New York Times review was that Pilate Dead from Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon is mentioned and her missing navel.

In Song of Solomon Pilate’s “cut off from her people early” left without a trace of her physical connection to her mother. Pilate spends her life adrift not making any real connections with other people and places rootless and unrooted. But the flips side of this is independence and freedom.

Nadia Owusu, through Afershocks, explores through her memoir her own rootlessness. What does it mean to be rooted? A daughter of an Armenian-American and a Ghanaian UN agency worker, Nadia is born into movement, travel diversity and trauma. She’s becomes fascinated with place because no place belonged to her.

Aftershocks takes it premise and structure from earthquakes, with shakes, rumbles foreshocks and upheaval affecting the narrative as it moves backwards and forwards in time. The present is marked by Nadia spending a week in a blue chair just rocking as she suffers a breakdown, after her whole world is devastated when she learns a different reason for her father’s death. A father she idolised since her mother abandoned her at the age of two and was fleeting in and out of her life since then.

I’m so enjoying reading this book as a reader but also as a writer as this means I’m carried along with the narrative, the shakes and rumbles along fault lines, at the same time as deconstructing it, exploring underneath the lines to find out how Nadia put this beauty together.

This is all helping me think about my own hybrid memoir and how this will be structured but also it’s giving me permission to put in stories and experiences that maybe I was shying away from before.

In the Author’s Note at the beginning of the book, Nadia states, “I write towards truth, but my memory is prone to bouts of imaginations. Other’s remember events differently. I can only tell my version.” This so hit a chord with me. A disclaimer at the beginning to let the read know this is the truth, but how one individual feels it and it might be embellished a bit.

And then when someone in the course group mentioned how they find Nadia so narcissistic in her writing, only focusing on her thoughts and feelings. I was like ‘HELLO!” This is her memoir, her story to tell, because who else is going to tell it?

Angelique, the course tutor said, while writing a memoir you walk a fine line. The line between narcissism and humility. When you can create the balance between the two extremes then you have yourself a brilliant memoir.

I can only say I’m working on it. And that brings me joy to say that, I’m working on it.

I would recommending this book, Aftershocks, as it’s so well written and even though details an individual’s life experiences up to the age of 28, there are still universal themes and episodes within this text that will not only draw you in with wonder and awe, but will also get you wandering down your own path of memories and natural disasters to try understand your own nuanced neurosis and make-up and sense of self.

Nature Writing Workshop

I’m finishing up my residency with Northumberland National Park this year with a Nature Writing Workshop.

Filled with readings and prompts, writings and sharings, we aim to generate new creations inspired by nature.

Happening Thursday 25 November from 10am – 12pm (GMT) all on zoom. and for free.

Head on over here to grab a ticket before they’re all gone.

Black nature in residence showcase

You might not know it but I’ve been writer in residence for Northumberland National Park. It was part of a project called Black Nature in Residence.

Led by identity on tyne, four Black writers were in residence across the North-East. As our time comes to an end, we’re ready to share about our experiences.

Come join us for an evening of words and images at our online showcase. Thursday 28 October, 6.30-8pm.

You can find our more about the project here.

And you can grab yourself a ticket for the event here.

When the wife leaves Without closing the door

In the shape of a tree,

my scar is painted with code.

Through the letting of blood, I wait

for the sound of my screams.

But what I do not plan for

is the mashed up sycamore spinners,

the trampled copper conkers

and the singed bramble bushes.

Graceless and broken,

I get high on the thoughts

of owning myself; the plumage

of starlings embroidered

on an intimate mind. 

Sticky sparks

when the wind moves                    

between the seasons                                     on a moonlit night

there’s just enough       space                       for you        to lie down 

too narrow rooms and too narrow 

                                           thoughts 

keep you trapped beneath       glass      

ground      you     ( like a freak of …)

it draws blood from your hips to stay

everything in this world                           you’ve touched                                       you’ve tried to love 

yet your sticky sparks                    dare 

anyone to come close

Soulspeak

My heart is clear

listening to my gut

allowing space for my mind

to catch up

the sea is air-force blue

and glassy

and speaks to my soul

in a hushed whisper

the same sound and softness

from my clear heart