Time To Write: Making Room, Moving Body

First thing in the morning. In bed or at my desk. After just leaving the dream state. Before the distractions of the day interrupt fresh-brained consciousness. Before turning on the internet, mobile phone, email, “social” media. Before turning on the news… Over the years this has proved my peak productive writing time. Attempting to implement this regimen for at least one day a week I have organised a dedicated writing space, negotiated home-life, juggled paid commitments into afternoon and evening slots – and learnt to thrive on a relative lack of income. At my most prolific, being able to blast out a couple of thousand words a day.

This deliberate, calculated routine is now interrupted: we have kids. Full nights of slumber in our household are thankfully now the norm (following many months of some colic/reflux/still-as-yet-undiagnosed sleep-depriving annoyance) but early morning wake ups, school/nursery drop-offs/pick-ups, and other such parental duties and distractions remain. These are of course necessary, usually a joy, and often provide a poignant reminder of life priorities. But still, I do yearn and hunger for that writing time and head space. A militant restructuring of my days has thus been necessary and I have had to become much more discriminating in accepting commissions and in saying no to opportunities outside of my immediate focus.

I began the year, then, with a needed investment in my creative practice on the Numbi artists retreat in The Gambia. This proved the richly fulfilling and rejuvenating experience I had hoped: an opportunity to collaborate with other artists from the diaspora and on the continent, and to connect with heritage, global family, the land, and people. This valuable connecting, thinking and writing time was also supplemented by workshops and lectures in Kemetic Yoga with master instructor Yirser Ra Hotep bringing original research into the Afrikan and Ancient Egyptian origins of yoga. This proved revelatory in many ways and on many chakra/spiritual levels.

A fourteen-hour road trip to Senegal squashed in the back of a minibus provided further opportunity for meditation and Zen focus, but such trials were always placed into sharp relief when talking with Senegambians about their everyday struggle. Continue reading

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Writing and Repair – A Healing Justice Conversation

Ahead of the first in the series of Healing Arts workshops, run by Voices That Shake!’s Healing Justice collective, here’s some nourishing quotes from writers on the healing power of writing: a conversation between Audre Lorde, James Baldwin, bell hooks, Toni Cade Bambara, Toni Morrison, Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Junot Díaz and others.

And a link to the essay that derives one of my favourite go-to quotes (which I’ve possibly mentioned on every single Shake! course is also up here: “Creativity is the Immune System of the Mind…”).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


bell hooks:
Writing is my passion. It is a way to experience the ecstatic. The root understanding of the word ecstasy—“to stand outside”—comes to me in those moments when I am immersed so deeply in the act of thinking and writing that everything else, even flesh, falls away.

Arthur Koestler: There is no sharp dividing line between self-repair and self realisation. All creative activity is a kind of do-it-yourself therapy, an attempt to come to terms with traumatising challenges

Toni Morrison: There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.

Maya Angelou: When I am writing, I am trying to find out who I am, who we are, what we’re capable of, how we feel, how we lose and stand up, and go on from darkness into darkness. I’m trying for that. But I’m also trying for the language. I’m trying to see how it can really sound. I really love language. I love it for wate it does for us, how it allows us to explain the pain and the glory, the nuances and delicacies of our existence. And then it allows us to laugh, allows us to show wit. Real wit is shown in language. We need language.
Continue reading

Continent Chop Chop doc doc

Here’s the freshly released documentary from Virtual Migrants touring theatrical performance #ContinentChopChop.We laboured, loved and learned long and hard on this project and will be taking the essence of this theatre-film-poetry-music-digital-arts-community-engaging-connecting-politics-intervening stylee mash-up forward in new ways over the coming years. More ripples soon…

[repost from http://virtualmigrants.net/film/continent-chop-chop-documentary/%5D

Continent Chop Chop documentary re-launches critical climate justice creativity by Virtual Migrants

At the end of 2015 Virtual Migrants toured Continent Chop Chop, an innovative theatrical performance which is now the short film – the Continent Chop Chop documentary.  This film exposes the complex process involved in making an authentic artist-activist statement that avoids being didactic, doesn’t pull punches, and steers away from the common trappings of climate change art and performance.

Here it is, please leave comments below or watch it directly on YouTube and leave comments there: www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAPKS3IobTk.

Background to the Continent Chop Chop Documentary

‘Continent Chop Chop’ is a touring transmedia production linking narratives of climate change to the broader issues of poverty, race and social justice. Using interwoven narratives portrayed through music, poetry, and projected imagery, it will ask:

Continue reading

Creativity is the Immune System of the Mind…

Continent Chop Chop director Amanda Huxtable recently invited contributions for her Pearl’s Project with Huddersfield Literature Festival. Inspired by Maya Angelou, Amanda’s call was for people to share their pearls – “something you have kept with you ever since you first read it… a line from a novel, a poem or non fiction. It’s precious, it’s powerful. It leaves nothing unsaid in only a few words. Words powerful, strong and as precious as any pearl could be”.

Here’s mine that I hold dear from good friend, writer, artist and founder of Artists in Mind, John Holt:

 

Creativity is the immune system of the mind and the source of the mythic.”

 

Continue reading

Extremely Safe Radical Preventions

Earlier this year Virtual Migrants were involved in a research project devised by the University of Manchester Centre for Criminology and Criminal Justice and a series of interactive drama-based workshops led by Theatre in Prisons and Probation to faciliate conversations about radicalism.

The project was devised as ‘a collaboration between young people, school staff, interdisciplinary researchers, and creative artists, that focuses on developing an inclusive and open discussion about how schools approach extremism that speaks to, and is led by, young people’.

The government’s Prevent strategy has been accused of being more damaging than enabling; acting as a mechanism of exclusion that represses rather than encourages conversation. It was fascinating to hear the views and frustrations of teachers and pupils in dealing with Prevent and Safeguarding legislation highlighting even more the need to “talk about this”.

Here’s the poem that resulted from these conversations:

Extremely Safe Radical Preventions


Who are ya?
Who are ya?
Who are ya?

Who is behind the mask?
Behind the hood?
Behind the veil?
Continue reading

A Reminder for Our Liberal Selves

A Reminder for Our Liberal Selves:

Black people are systematically destroyed by the media and the marketers

as well as by police bullets.

Black voices are destroyed by well-meaning White voices

We do know… it’s Christmas
We know what time it is
We have known the time, calculated the time
lived in rhythm with the moon cycle and seasons for millennia

We are best placed to speak on “Black issues”
We are also well placed to speak on issues other than “Black issues”

For as we know
as we have been forced to learn,
forced to abandon our languages, adopt and adapt new ones:
the oppressed will always know more about their oppressor
than the oppressor can ever know about them.

So we do not let Black faces on stage fool us
into believing power structures have fundamentally changed

Black faces in the boardroom
Black faces in the White House
In ‘liberal’ newspapers
Fronting TV shows…
Black faces in uniform.

And if the White Supremacist structure of the White House
the boardroom, the entertainment industry, the news media,
remains intact
how far can Black Words within these platforms make a difference?

Can we use the master’s tools to knock down and build new houses?

Can Black words in well-meaning well-read media platforms

breathe

surrounded by ads for corporations that continue to profit from our deaths…?

bwm

No Such Thing As Human Rights – Casey Camp-Horinek

In December 2015 Voices that Shake! travelled to the alternative summit at COP 21 in Paris to offer solidarity to indigenous communities fighting for climate justice. This video features a speech extract delivered by Casey Camp-Horinek of the Ponca Nation and organiser with Indigenous Environmental Network recorded on Human Rights Day, 10th December 2015.

A transcript of the speech is below:

“…We are suffering from environmental genocide where I live. The Occupied Territory of the United States of Amerikkka that belongs to the indigenous nations of the Americas has long understood the policies that have come down.

We have had in the Concho Nation six treaties made, not one has been honoured. So when I hear of a treaty coming out of the UN I understand…

One of my relations told me – and we are all related, I want us to remember that – he said Continue reading