I don’t tend to experience time in the way that we’re encouraged to. I mean, years seem to blur all into each other – and I find the numbers we attach to them, like “2017”, doesn’t resonate with me in the way when I was younger and thought, “OMG, 1980 is coming!”
When I look back on 2016 I see a mixture of successes and challenges. Challenges are good – it often inspires us to be even better at competencies once thought in the bag. The most invigorating aspect of teaching for me has always been the exchange that can go on in a classroom – I always tell my students that learning in my class is not a one-way thing and I continue to be humbled by the many lessons learned from the hundreds of students that have crossed my path since I began to teach a few years back. I’m also super thankful to teach at a school that has been incredibly supportive.
A few years ago I decided that I could weave a living together doing the things that I feel most passionate about: teaching, writing and editing. I finally accepted that having many strengths is not a weakness- it’s okay to focus on more than one thing as opposed to what we are all too often socialised into believing. The economy is changing – there simply is not enough work for everyone: that’s a fact. What we have to be willing to do now, more than ever, is to find creative ways to support our lives. I’ve been blessed to have an amazing editor at NBCBLK Amber Payne (where I got to interview one of the coolest women ever, Lisa Lucas!), Kenneth Fagbe at Skandik Afrik is a man committed to African representation here in Scandinavia and it has been a privilege to work with him, Nazila Kivi at Friktion whose work and support has been greatly appreciated, The Virgin Islands’ The Source where David King Jr. has proven to be an excellent editor, Deborah Cowell at Lime, Exile and Teju Adisa-Farar of World Unwrapped to feature my work this past year. Upcoming pieces are expected in Kult here in Denmark, Interviewing the Caribbean (my first piece in a Caribbean-centered publication!) and Marronage. I also recently received quite a write up in Huffington Post. Thank you Patrick!
Other passions of mine include performing poetry, public speaking and participating and organising events. I’ve enjoyed meeting the many wonderful and talented artists and thinkers who are in Denmark and your presence has given me strength in times of wavering wonder. There’s Sade Johnson, Elianna Morningstar and the rest of the VIVAC crew who has hosted some amazing cultural events to promote the talent and beauty of the African diaspora. You all have done important work and I look forward to future events and collaborations.
Then there’s the Say it Loud poetry collective which has been renamed the R.A.M. Poetry Collective – Random Access Memory. My vision for a collective is that it is ever changing and fluid, and so far this has been that. Our last reading in early December was a demonstration of the power of poetry. And Copenhagen continues to invite us and love us for being ourselves. That is a blessing. Shout out to Qwin, Adelina, Julia, Teju, Sabitha, Zanubia, Saynab – we can’t do this alone and you guys are a testament to that.
One of the most interesting performances I’ve had this year was at the Musical Conservatory. As the ancestors would have it, it was scheduled to take place on Thanksgiving Day. I decided to use the platform to speak about decoloniality, the link between history and modernity and breaking down the mythology that has sprung up as a result of white colonial settler mentality. Part of my presentation was my own curiosity: “How would my story be received?” There was of course, some discomfort, but most importantly a dialogue came out of it that I hope encourages others to think about the information we have been taught, a bit more critically. I’m truly thankful for the invitation and the support. Big shout out to Tania, Diab and Aka.
When I got invited by Garba Diallo to come speak to his students at Krogerup Højskole I knew that I wanted to do something under the title “Decolonial Daughter”. We talked economy, migration and history. I know that I did my job when a student told me, “You make me think about things.” Whenever I hear that, I know I did what I was meant to do. Thank you Garba and to your students for such a beautiful experience out in the Danish countryside.
Being invited by Trinidadian Danish artist Jeannette Ehlers to be a part of the “What we lost in empire” panel discussion at Copenhagen’s Main along with Simmi Dullay and Anne Neye was certainly a highlight of this year. The turnout was crazy – and I’m proud to have been in such amazing company for such an important issue. The turnout proves, once again, that folks are interested and ready for other perspectives. 2016 was also the year I met writer and artist Simmi Dullay and visiting her in London with my son was the perfect little trip for both my son and myself.
I also was invited to host an evening at the Main Library to interview Gerald French, original Black Indian and Mardi Gras veteran. Thank you Mette for thinking of me. It was great to catch up with an African American artist and Gerald French is an industry great. As much as we can bemoan the many changes going on around the world, opportunities to meet artists such as him, give me hope.
Who could forget the amazing BEBOP 2016: Black Europe Body Politics that took place this past summer in Berlin and Copenhagen? Who could imagine having such a radical place for Black thinkers and artists and decoloniality? Well, it’s one thing if it’s an idea. It’s quite another to pull it off. And that’s what Alanna Lockward keeps doing – attracting top artists and thinkers from around the world who are all invested in Black liberation.
Big shout out to Martyn Bone who invited me to be a part of Denmark and African American culture at Copenhagen University. I have to admit, I read something pretty Caribbean – but meeting the poet and activist Teju Adisa-Farar has encouraged me to re-think what I think about the term ‘America’. It was an amazing event and I got to meet Heidi Durrow whose book, The Girl Who Fell from the Sky is literary perfection.
One of my heroes is Dr. Olivia U. Rutazibwa. This piece of hers should tell you why. When I was invited to read a poem this past summer for Climate on the rise, people on the Move: Understanding Today’s Global Challenges Differently I was able to meet her in person. This event exposed me to so many cool souls like Dr. Dr. Anna M. Agathangelou, Pol Bargués Pedreny, Rolando Vazquez, and Kai Koddenbrock.
Here’s a video of my poem, inspired by the words & work of Simmi Dullay:
My latest endeavour is the Women’s March in Copenhagen on January 21st. I was invited to be the march’s spokesperson by a parent of a former student of mine. I’m committed to being more activated this year – something that an introvert like me gets a little scared thinking about – but it is, in the end, the only thing to do. I hope that my activation and willingness to stand together with others will serve as inspiration to all of you who don’t see yourselves as activists or “political”. I am thankful for all of the people who I have been able to meet through this march and remain inspired. Thank you Elizabeth Williams Oerberg, Karen Covington, Rebecca Rutt and Colleen Carol.
2016 included living on a boat, having my mother come and visit me (thanks, Mom!) finding an apartment (finally!) and getting my book signed with Repeater Books, in London. Let’s make 2017 the year that we actualise the phrase, “We are the ones we have been waiting for.”