Balancing Vulnerability with Transformation

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“African narratives in the West, they proliferate. I really don’t care anymore. I’m more interested in the stories we tell about ourselves — how as a writer, I find that African writers have always been the curators of our humanity on this continent. The question is, how do I balance narratives that are wonderful with narratives of wounds and self-loathing?And this is the difficulty that I face. I am trying to move beyond political rhetoric to a place of ethical questioning. I am asking us to balance the idea of our complete vulnerability with the complete notion of transformation of what is possible.” – Chris Abani

He recited a poem by Yusef Komunyakaa on transformation:

Ode to the Drum” 

Gazelle, I killed you
for your skin’s exquisite
touch, for how easy it is
to be nailed to a board
weathered raw as white
butcher paper. Last night
I heard my daughter praying
for the meat here at my feet.
You know it wasn’t anger
that made me stop my heart
till the hammer fell. Weeks
ago, I broke you as a woman
once shattered me into a song
beneath her weight, before
you slouched into that
grassy hush. But now
I’m tightening lashes,
shaping hide as if around
a ribcage, stretched
like five bowstrings.
Ghosts cannot slip back
inside the body’s drum.
You’ve been seasoned
by wind, dusk & sunlight.
Pressure can make everything
whole again, brass nails
tacked into the ebony wood
your face has been carved
five times. I have to drive
trouble from the valley.
Trouble in the hills.
Trouble on the river
too. There’s no kola nut,
palm wine, fish, salt,
or calabash. Kadoom.
Kadoom. Kadoom. Ka-
doooom. Kadoom. Now
I have beaten a song back into you,
rise and walk away like a panther.”

~ Chris Abani (Excerpt from TED Talk, “Telling Stories from Africa“)

As a gift from me to you I’m offering a FREE WRITING WORKSHOP: Sunday, October 2nd (NYC) toll free dial in number available. To register email: findingyourforce@gmail.com

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