Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Ode to a poetic gathering

Every time I visit The Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, it feels like coming home. There's a delicious divinity about a group of arts-centred minds and bodies gathered in one creative space. Like the push and pull of the moon on waves and tides, it moves me.

Yesterday I sat in a semi-circle of poets expressing livity: dissecting different aspects of their lives with surgical precision, using words like scalpels to make incisions with similes, metaphors, onomatopoeia ... .

I marvelled again at my love for prose. My illicit affair with words: written, spoken, sung, mimed and danced. Words on a page, words floating in space, a word settled so comfortably on a tongue, caressed by an accent and expelled on hot air ...

I love it. 

I love the dichotomy of sounds, the variations of rhythms, the pleasure of a word riding the wave a lilting voice ... . A thought given life through the process of articulation, breathed like magic into a space that it occupies until it vaporises. Or evaporates.

I love it.

I love the potency and cogency of words. I like that the Bible says, "In the beginning was the word ...". It gives me an excuse. Because when people speak, or write really well, I see God. And I worship at that altar.

So yesterday, when I visited the poetry society's monthly meeting, I had an experience with the divine Word. Word.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sometimes you have to retreat ...

I went to a retreat this weekend.

It was, literally and figuratively, a breath of fresh air.

I feel like I've been catapulted into a space of mental clarity. Like, for a brief moment, a supernatural force has decided to grant me the serenity I have for years been seeking.

I had to literally accept the things I couldn't change when my beautiful orange
scarf made a clandestine escape through a bus window, gracefully billowing its goodbye to my fellow travellers while I slept, oblivious to the fact that my favourite scarf was literally gone with the wind. I had to let that go. I mean, I loved that scarf. It's been three good years. But meh. Life goes on.

Once upon a time, I would have had a near-funeral for that scarf. The way I used to mourn lost jewellery. But God has granted me the serenity. Ase (pronounced ashay). And that's another thing I learnt this weekend: ase. It's a Ghanaian word. It means amen, with a little bit of selah, and a lot of shalom.

I like it: ase. There's something powerful about breathing that word - like a prayer in a sigh. Ase. And so it is. Let it be so. 

Acceptance. Surrender. Peace.

I had to surrender to bathing in cold water. And let me tell you, it was kowl! Again, God granted me the serenity. Because the option was to either bathe with cold water or not bathe at all. I almost didn't bathe. But good sense prevailed. A little cold never hurt anybody. Any. Body. Get it?

Anyway, that kind of corny is another thing.

And these people I was retreating with? The right kind of corny. Just wonderful. It was a collective of sistrins with one and two bredrens who were focused and centred. It was a safe space. I sat up late chatting with people about their life stories, forging a rich, deep connection grounded in shared experience.

It was authenticity to the point of unashamed vulnerability. I liked it. They were the kind of corny that spoke of feeling like they were losing something whenever they left the verdant richness of country to return to the hustle and bustle of Kingston. They were the kind of corny that could declare, "I need a lot of nature in my life."

I loved it. And they weren't just being emos the whole time. They were productive. They got stuff done. They made plans. They cast vision. They charted a future for an organisation ...

It was a beautiful casting off of the old, and an embracing of the new. And when I think of it, losing my scarf becomes symbolic. Why not let go? Why not let go of the inhibitions and embrace a new experience? Why not let go of cautious fear, and invest more of myself into a truly worthy cause?

Why not jump in, feet first, eyes closed, and immerse myself in the experience? Why not? Ase.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The joys of a good book

Sometimes I meet a book that so thoroughly demands my attention, everything else becomes peripheral to the immediate need to read. So baths, work, and all other responsibilities become secondary to this imperative of finishing this really good book.

 I found that in David Nicholls' 'Us'. Everything about this novel has left me gratified. Like a life-fulfilling achievement. The emotions are so very human and accessible. The writing is so calm and yet heart-tugging. The vocabulary so expansive and exact. I had to force myself to bathe and eat and go to work and complete my other chores (and, yes, they felt like laborious, unnecessary chores).

I had to remind myself that these other tasks don't just complete themselves. That I'm not 12 anymore, in that blissful age where I could just sit and read for hours undisturbed. I'm a big girl now. There are responsibilities to tend to. Adults don't get away with that sort of thing. There are repercussions for irresponsibility. 

In short, I had to be to myself what my mother was to me when I was 12 with my nose stuck in a good read. There were the dishes to wash, or my room to tidy or the yard to rake, or school to get ready for, or dinner to eat, or bed to go to. And where was I? Lost in some literary Neverland.

It's a pity I can't do that now! I mean, I could. But there would be consequences. So I cram everything else around lengthy reading spells. Until the last page, my life just kind of happens around the book.

And when the book is finished? Oh, I don't know. Finishing a good book is like parting with a dear friend. You love this person. You hate to see them go, but it's time. And the euphoria never lasts long enough.

If you're a writer, please write good books. I can't tell you how you're blessing the world with that gift. Some little nerd-girl is waiting for you to give her something to bury her head into. Give her a reason to forsake the mundane and get lost in the fantastic.

Some grown woman is looking for an excuse for temporary irresponsibility. And temporary insanity. (You know that look people give you when you burst out laughing at a joke in the book that you don't want to share? Like you're crazy?).

So write good books. Please. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

You like it, too!

There is something strangely gratifying about highlighting a passage in your Kindle book, only to realise that 510 people highlighted it before you.

It makes you feel like part of an intellectual literary collective. (Yes, I am that sort of pretentious).

Depth, eloquence resonate universally.
Isn't that beautiful?

*happy sigh*