Inanna Publications

Books by this Publisher
Sort by:
View Mode:
Tumblehome

Tumblehome

One Woman's Canoeing Adventures in the Divine Near-Wilderness
edition:Paperback
More Info
Who Is Kim Ondaatje?

Who Is Kim Ondaatje?

The Inventive Life of a Canadian Artist
edition:Paperback
More Info
Excerpt

The years between 1967 and 1971 were remarkably productive for the couple. Michael completed his long poem, the man with sevens toes, an unsettling poem of a white woman losing her identity while adrift in unfamiliar territory. An example of how different modes of perception create different perspectives. It would be easy for a reader to draw parallels between the two main characters as representatives of the author's own situation: one character adrift in unfamiliar territory, the other, a man with seven toes, the victim of a symbolic castration.

Michael also wrote a critical study, Leonard Cohen, during this period. He shared the 1970 Governor General Award for The Collected Works of Billy the Kid with bpNichol's The true eventual story of Billy the Kid. The two writers had become friends through their Coach House connection, leading Michael to make a film on Nichol, Sons of Captain Poetry. He also compiled, with Tony Urquhart, an anthology of animal poems, The Broken Ark: A Book of Beasts, a plea to humans to show more compassion towards animals. Michael continued part-time editing with Quarry. When Mordecai Richler dismissed the poetry magazine as "parochial" Michael responded by echoing ideas explored in his Master's thesis on personal, local, and regional art forms reflecting universal themes.

Kim was also attracting a fair amount of attention. The Canadian art critic, Barry Lord, referred to London artists as "global villagers" plugged into larger art worlds while being irrevocably committed to producing work from their own experience. London artists, among them Jack Chambers, Greg Curnoe, Tony Urquhart, and Kim Ondaatje, were creating a sense of excitement around new and individual bodies of significant work.

No longer interested in pursuing pure abstraction, Kim experimented with "disposable art," 3D paper constructions of lilies meant to be hung on a clothesline. None of these have survived, but she was about to introduce 3-dimensional sculptural effects into her work. She wanted to explore a form relevant to her life. She found it, to some extent, through a theory Jack Chambers was investigating, Perceptual Realism. It posited that reality and the perception of reality are not the same-- perceived reality being but a version according to communal, cultural, social, or personal assessment. The subtext of Michael Ondaatje's the man with seven toes is a prime example: two people from two different cultures and values are doomed to perceive the reality of their situation differently.

A few months after Kim met Jack Chambers he asked why she wasn't painting. She told him she had thrown out her old oils, brushes, and palette knives, and the move to London had left her too broke to renew supplies. Chambers took her to Willard Green's art supply store and explained the situation. Willard offered Kim a $1500 charge account. Jack then had Kim apply for a $1500 Canada Council grant for which he wrote a letter of recommendation. Kim received the grant allowing her to pay back Willard Green.

The house the Ondaatjes rented on Piccadilly Street in London precipitated a crucial chapter in Kim's career:

"I came close to being a colour field artist, using two or three colours, but then I went into the Piccadilly series, a non-objective type of realism, really. I had come to the very edge, in the beginning, of non-objective painting, then I decided there were a lot of good, non-objective artists and, while I appreciated what they were doing and I understood them, I didn't want to become one of them. I wanted to do something of my own. I started putting the object back into painting." Not only did Kim's "new idea" of "putting the object back into non-objective painting" lead her to presenting enigmatic views of several rooms of the London house, she constructed each painting by incorporating three-dimensional materials onto the canvas. There is little free brushwork in the Piccadilly series. "It usually appears only in a scene where there's a window, after I've constructed the window using tape and painted it, using the tape as a complete discipline in that case... I would then pick up a brush and do some free brushwork in the sky."

The shift might seem radical, yet there exists throughout the Piccadilly series a juxtaposition of non-objective abstraction with identifiable items and settings as if Kim were "negotiating a transitional space between abstraction and high realism." She adopted forms practised by non-objective artists?vertical lines, squares, rectangles?but transformed their geometric planes into areas of a house. Bold colours, typical of non-objective art, were replaced by subdued tones creating elusive shifts from abstraction to representation and vice versa. The first painting of the series, Cuckoo Clock, depicts a repeated wallpaper background forming a flat pattern of vertical bands of yellow and grey stripes confirming a strong influence from leaders in the development of colour abstraction such as in the work of Quebec artists, Molinari and de Tonnancour. But the painting strays from the strict principle of excluding notions of time and place. A mirror reflects an opposite wall with identical wallpaper, a cuckoo clock, and what appears to be a rectangular part of a ceiling, challenging non-objective rules opposing notions of time and place. Kim added an additional component. What is being represented is not simply a room or an object but their reflections, the same concept as in Azalea. The mirrored objects summon viewers to be part of a reflective experience.

There is an amusing anecdote regarding the inspiration behind Cuckoo Clock. Kim bought the clock because it sounded every fifteen minutes. She installed it in the only bathroom in the house to remind people, especially Michael who liked to retire to the bathroom to read, that there were others who might wish to use the facility. Two other paintings from this series, Fish Mobile and Chair were also bathroom inspirations.

By the following spring, the work done to the rented house on Piccadilly so impressed the landlord he put it up for sale. Michael's contract was extended for another year and the Ondaatjes purchased a large house at 838 Wellington Street North where Kim had the third-floor attic renovated as a studio where the rest of the Piccadilly series was produced from photographs. Kim's hard work was being recognized, her paintings appearing in high-profile shows. Two from the Hill series were included in a 1968 Spring group Exhibition at the Agnes Etherington Art Gallery in Kingston. The other artists represented were Jack Chambers, Greg Curnoe, Roy Kiyooka, Bill Muysson, Kazuo Nakamura, Christiane Pflug, Christopher Pratt, Claude Tousignant. Needless to say, Kim was in excellent company. She also took part in a touring exhibition arranged by the Art Institute of Ontario, later renamed the Art Gallery of Ontario, in The Artist with Their Work program.

In April, 1969, an exhibition of fourteen paintings making up The House on Piccadilly Street opened at the McIntosh Memorial Art Gallery at the University of Western Ontario. A London Free Press review by Lenore Crawford emphasized which paintings she thought were the most successful: "...the room with the old oak server, the green lamp and the painting on the wall, a reproduction of the green and black impasto studies of landscape the artist used to do. The 'fun' picture of mobile fish, or another of a bedroom with print curtains which belongs to Pop, perhaps, without being enslaved by it."

Ambiguity was never a strong facet of Kim's personality, yet it is one of the most interesting features of the series, the strict and formal rules of non-objective art challenged by elements central to a woman's life. People who visited various houses in which Kim lived described them as chaotically lively with children, pets, visitors. Yet the depictions of the interior of the Piccadilly house have taken a synthetic, almost claustrophobic appearance, as if the energy of her previous abstract paintings had been contained. On one hand there is perfect symmetry, everything in its place, on the other hand, the projected stasis seems unlived. Blue Bedroom, for example, is not a place where one dreams.

The geometrical forms in several paintings are charged with enigmatic allusions. Hall, a painting of a narrow hallway leading to a shut door, a small trinket in the form of a female sign above the door, projects confinement. Chair, with its curvilinear cane back, rendered against a background of rectangles and stripes, is not a particularly inviting chair in which a person would curl up to read. Furnace, bears most of the elements of non-objective art with its rectangles, vertical and symmetrical lines, but, unlike non-objective art, it projects mystery, ambiguity, in its refusal to adhere to one approach, one genre. Kim has referred to her "sterile childhood home" as explanation for the Piccadilly series. According to her journals and interviews a work of art should only be painted, or a photograph taken, if artist or photographer feels strongly about its subject: "If the feeling is strong enough, the work of art will create its own truth."

Artists often paint a house in relation to their past. Did any house in which Kim lived ever displace the one in which she was born and in which she grew up?

Within a period of nine months, from April to December, 1969, Kim had three solo exhibitions and her work was represented in six group shows. Jack Chambers continued to support Kim's art, showing up once at her studio with the curator of Canadian Art at the National Art Gallery, Pierre Théberge. In 1969, again at Jack's recommendation, Kim began producing prints of the Piccadilly series. Less detailed than the paintings, the silkscreen prints were redrawn to suit the new medium. As the curator of Museum London, Melanie Townsend, would later point out, "Referencing of her paintings, Ondaatje's prints remain nonetheless unique, extending her subject matter through experimentation with process, and the introduction of new elements and colour variations."

In the Globe and Mail, January 9, 1971, art critic, Kay Kritzwiser, wrote a review of the Piccadilly serigraph exhibition at the Merton Gallery in Toronto: "[A] sense of spiritual waste represented in hours lost to futility... empty, impersonal rooms, cool and uninvolving... It takes time to size up the Piccadilly Street house, for what you are looking into is Everyman's house and what you dig into (whether you dig her work or not) is yourself... these rooms are our lives."

Kritzwiser ended her review referring to The Furnace Room serigraph: "the most riveting... a key to her next direction. The hard-edge formal arrangement in pale hues has an austere, ghostly beauty. The same quality exists in the factories lining our waterfronts and highways and she yearns to paint them."

Lora Senechal Carney met Kim in 1973 when Carney was doing interviews for audio-visual presentations for the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. She would remain a close friend of Kim's throughout her tenure in the Fine Arts Department at the University of Toronto, and beyond. Her extensive 1973 interview relates how Kim first got into the Factory series "like a mountain climber climbs a mountain because they were there."

close this panel
Still Living the Edges
Excerpt
Introduction - Diane Driedger

As I write this, it's a sunny August day in Winnipeg. Clouds, pieces of cotton, float on the horizon. Just a few weeks ago, everyone was locked down in the COVID-19 vise. Now, we venture out for a walk or just enjoy the beach at a local lake (while social distancing, of course). I have been finalizing this book manuscript. I thought I had the book finished, after working on collecting pieces over the past eighteen months. But COVID brought up new issues and I found authors to address those: how COVID affects disabled people and how now that many work at home, disabled women point to ways to do this, the importance of flexibility in work, the importance of not forgetting all of this when the COVID virus has passed.

We, as women with disabilities, have an important role in sharing our experiences of lives that have been altered by barriers in our environment, just like everyone's environment has been altered by this virus. All of a sudden, many are experiencing isolation, the lack of feeling part of society, and the inability to support themselves due to unemployment. These are all issues that women with disabilities, indeed, people with disabilities, have dealt with their whole lives. The edges in our society have been thrown into relief.

Recently, the Canadian census pegged the number of disabled women in Canada at 24% of the population, and men at 20% of the population. Women have more disabilities than men and have a higher instance of invisible disabilities, like multiple sclerosis (MS), chronic fatigue, and mental health. Disabled women tend to experience higher rates of unemployment, single parenthood, poverty, and are more likely to live alone than men with disabilities (Morris et. al). Welcome everyone to our world!

I realized two years ago, that my book, Living the Edges: A Disabled Women's Reader needed an update. I had been using it in my Women and Disability course in the Interdisciplinary Disabled Studies Master's Program at the University of Manitoba since 2013. And of course, disabled women themselves needed to reflect on where we are at in 2020. What are disabled women experiencing and feeling? All the issues are still relevant in that 2010 book, but new developments, issues, and voices have materialized. I sent out a call for submissions. I named the book, "Still" Living the Edges, as we as women with disabilities still experience the edges of discrimination, physical barriers, and marginalization, and also challenge those edges with our writings, art, and actions. Most of the articles in Still Living the Edges are new, and a few are updated or reprinted articles from Living the Edges, which I felt needed to be included in this new book.

Again, the book includes articles, poems, visual art, and photographs by disabled women, but now there are contributions, not only from Canada, but from around the world. This new book includes disabled women's reflections from the US, UK, and Australia. In addition, Canadian authors highlight the experiences of women in Russia, Poland, Vietnam, South Africa, and Zimbabwe through their research and art. In all, the authors have similar attitudinal, systemic, and physical barriers that arise in their lives. The experience of being a disabled woman is global: we experience barriers to our full participation in society because we are disabled and because we are women?double jeopardy. An ableist society stipulates that nondisabled people's ways of living and working are the norm, and disabled people don't fit in, and sexism affects disabled women's lives because our lives are more marginalized than disabled men's lives. Disabled women who are Black, Indigenous, or other People of Color (BIPOC) experience a 'triple jeopardy,' as they experience barriers on three fronts: ableism, sexism, and racism. Still Living the Edges includes voices from BIOPOC disabled women.

This new volume is divided into the same sections as the first book, except I have excluded the section, "Violence on the Edges." Disabled women still experience intimate partner, sexual, emotional, and physical violence; however, a recent book, Not a New Problem Violence in the Lives of Disabled Women (Owen et. al) has done a good job of exploring this issue in Canada. One of the articles from this book has been included in the relationship section. In addition, issues of emotional and attitudinal abuse are included throughout the sections as disabled women tell their stories.

In section one, "Who We Are on the Edges," disabled women discuss identity-related issues that are important to them as women living with disabilities. These issues range from disability as glamour, living with disability on a daily basis, understanding our bodies as women with various disabilities, experiencing violence as Indigenous women, and confronting said violence. Here, women share how they live with disabilities, and also how they live full lives. Society has framed disability as a negative word, a negative state, but here women explore what it means to own their disabled identity.

In section two, "Naming the Edges: Barriers," the social model of disability is illustrated through the women's naming of the edgy barriers that stand in their way as they negotiate society. The women discuss the ways in which negative stereotypes of disability become societal mantras they must contend with daily, such as the misconception that disabled women cannot be beautiful, or that women with invisible disabilities don't "look like" disabled women. Systemic barriers, such as poor income support systems, disable women because they do not have adequate nutritional support for their health. Even organizations of disabled persons leave women with disabilities experiencing sexism as they are often not included in decision-making. Attitudinal and systemic barriers, such as the medical model, wherein the assumption is that medical and social service experts know what is best for a disabled persons, rear their heads. Even the lives of disabled women and their worth is questioned on these edges, as COVID-19 has brought up issues around whose lives are more important to save than others. Finally, physical barriers such as inaccessible buildings and streets continue to be encountered.

In section three, "Relationships on the Edges," women explore relationships with families, intimate partners, and the community. Sometimes, families don't understand us, as disabled women, and we need to tell them what we feel, need, want, and who we are. Society has long thought that women with disabilities are not sexual beings who may also want families and relationships. Sometimes, our intimate partners abuse us, or don't wish to have children with us, because they might be disabled.

Section four, "Challenging the Edges," focusses on disabled women who are challenging the social edges that say we must be silent, as women and as disabled persons about the barriers that society puts in our way. The women in this section question old ideas about disability, development, and western colonialization, they question our nine-to-five rushed work lives, they build websites to unite people with disabilities around their common experiences. Disabled women make films and take them across Canada to push for deinstitutionalization of persons with intellectual disabilities. Women defy the "body beautiful" definitions of society and proclaim their bodies acceptable as they are. Disabled women depict their lived experiences through art and acting. Disabled women continue to participate in disabled persons' organizations, such as People First Canada, to enact change along with men. Disabled women also continue their thirty-five-year tradition of challenging the barriers that disabled women encounter, using an intersectional approach, through the Disabled Women's Network (DAWN) Canada.

Indeed, disabled women will not be silenced. We are still here, despite living on the edges, despite being pushed to the edges, despite being edgy women, and we are on the cutting edge.

close this panel
The Legacy of Mothers

The Legacy of Mothers

Matriarchies and the Gift Economy as Post Capitalist Alternatives
edited by Erella Shadmi
edition:Paperback
More Info
Excerpt
from "Introduction: Motherhood: Between Chaos, Malfunction, Magic, and Vision" - Erella Shadmi

Uncertainty, chaos, conflicts, dilemmas, maternal thinking, unlimited giving, our mirrors, the source of life, the source of anger, the source of mental complications and pain, bliss, power?these are but a few of the common descriptions given to motherhood in the Western world. Motherhood awakens many moral and philosophical questions: what is life, what is creation, empowerment, responsibility, meaning of life, common sense and feeling, good and bad, morality and immorality? The mother figure is with us all our lives. Writers, poets, and artists tell about her, depict her, and fantasize about her. Satirists parade her conflicts and failures, philosophers, sociologists, psychologists, and doctors mold and interpret her with endless theories. Women share their experiences as mothers?but still, no one has ever managed to encompass the very complex definition of motherhood, and no one person has a proper answer to the question of the essence of motherhood and what is right and worthy motherhood. Finally, it remains a tangled mystery, a maze that moves between magic?the magic of mystery, creation, nurture, love, giving, the experience of togetherness and otherness?and the disillusion of magic?mothering, the failures, the guilt, the difficulties, the pain, its institutionalization, its nationalization. Motherhood is uncontrollable and indefinable. The secret of "proper" motherhood (how, for what purpose, for how long, etc.) remains and evokes the contemplation that maybe the search for proper motherhood is mistaken and reflects distrust in mothers themselves. This search and its hopelessness attest to the complexity and richness of motherhood and the impossibility to fully grasp it (which is why there is no "bible" for mothers, despite the constant attempts of Dr. Spock and others). Thus it remains flexible, ever changing, challenged and challenging?defiant, exceptional and ordinary.

Nonetheless, many try to control motherhood and use it for their own purposes: patriarchy, capitalism, religion, the state, the welfare system, politics, medicine. Mothers are blamed for almost everything, especially their sons' and daughters' behaviour, i.e., almost any social misconduct. As a result, their sons and daughters tend to blame them as well and do their best to stay as far away from them as possible (an act that socially and culturally, that is, patriarchally, is encouraged). All those who claim to know what motherhood is and how we, the mothers, are to be molded, create a disconnect between the mother and motherhood, distancing the mother from other mothers and of course from her children, undermining her confidence, cutting her off from her heritage and inclinations, and, in fact, leaving her alone in the face of giant institutions.

Despite everything, mothers usually do a good job; most of their children function well. Most mothers find their way through the maze of raising children and develop the necessary skills for the work of mothering'such as multi-tasking, maternal thinking, nurturing their children and themselves?despite all the attempts to control them. A woman is like nature'she simply learns from those surrounding her: her mother, her sisters, aunts, and friends. Mainly, however, she learns from her children by responding to their needs. Her road is strewn with trial and error, wonderment and learning, doubts and changing. Most mothers try to fulfill their children's needs even if they feel trapped in their role or are ambivalent about it. Like other mature women who become mothers themselves, as time has passed, I admit that my mother did her best when raising me, despite mistakes she made. I wish I could be the mother and daughter I am today (to raise my daughter and regard my mother with my present understanding and wisdom) It is obviously not possible, but my motherhood and my mother's motherhood were certainly not failures.

It is not surprising that mothers are usually invisible, and therefore few are the studies, if any, that directly examine their success in raising their children?if any criterion for such a study may be formulated at all?except, perhaps, by comparisons, for example, between only children and children with siblings. In other words, offspring's achievements in education, employment, social skills, and so on are often comparatively examined. However, these achievements are usually not framed as the mother's success. On the other hand, the focus is turned on the mothers when failure is apparent, such as a juvenile delinquent#151;a youth who steals, murders, rapes, or one who commits suicide following the abuse of his or her peers. That is when we all look to the mother: "Who raised them to be such monsters?"1 True, there are attempts to define and test parental efficacy, mainly by psychologists for the courts in cases of divorce or a child removed from home. In fact, no society has developed tools for the assessment and measurement of parental efficacy in the general population?all the more so of mothers?when the assumption is that parental efficacy exists in every adult (Yagil). Furthermore, not only are these measures of parental efficacy doubtful (Almagor and Erlich), they are intertwined with problematic legal rhetoric (Barkay; Barkay and Mass) and bureaucratic violence (Hertzog). Therefore, the claim that parental efficacy?which includes the mother's efficacy?is measurable seems like another way, albeit legal, to define motherhood and control it, and is usually applied to mothers coming from a specific ethnic or social background (and is not necessarily for the benefit of the child).

Instead, we should ask: What harms mothers? What impedes the mother from fulfilling her task of mothering? Is there a way to decrease these impediments, by, for example, a supportive rather than a scrutinizing welfare system? Perhaps the problem does not lie with mothering itself, but in the invalidation of their unique power?

In order to step out of the maze all mothers are trapped in?a trap that patriarchy (with all its institutions: the market, the family, the religion, the violence, the state, etc.) reinforces time and again?it is not enough to expose mothering's cloak of mystery (as generations of women philosophers, artists, poets, and writers have been doing); it is not enough to listen to the experiences of mothers that modern feminism encourages, aiming to improve mothering under patriarchy; it is not enough to deconstruct the institution of motherhood as initiated by Adrienne Rich?because as much as these have contributed to a more in-depth understanding of mothering, they have not yet deciphered the mystery. Moreover, such practices are still carried out within the patriarchal system, the only existing frame within which Western motherhood works.

What I suggest in this book is that only trust in the uniqueness and power of motherhood, together with the abandonment of the patriarchal framework?including socially controlled and structured motherhood, i.e., abandoning Western motherhood?can lead us to an alternative motherhood. In other words, I suggest liberation from patriarchy (and oppression in general) through motherhood.

For that purpose, I would like to introduce some of the difficulties I encounter with the prevailing feminist discourse regarding motherhood. As a feminist sociologist, I will focus on three main issues that occupy women, but not just women: the nuclear family, the meaning of urban life and loss of community, and the conflict between motherhood and career. I will discuss these issues to show their hopelessness, the dead end they lead us to and the disrespect and contempt within motherhood?what I call "the catch of motherhood." As I usually do, I will combine my own personal experience with some thoughts, difficulties, and theories so as to acknowledge the "symbolic order of the mother" suggested by the Italian feminist Luisa Muraro (cited by Scarparo "In the Name of the Mother"). This acknowledgement is the first step towards change?not only towards a new social and feminist outlook on motherhood, but also, and mainly so, toward a new and empowered understanding of mothers themselves. Through this examination, I will introduce and depict motherhood concepts that exist outside the patriarchal system (those will be introduced in the second and third part of this book). These perceptions are not about the booby-trapped debate between the mother as an individual seeking self-fulfillment and the demands of society, family, and children. They do not aim to control the mother, to lay down a theory, dogma, or model of mothers or represent mothers. They are not trapped in the debate over the essentialism apparently involved in motherhood or femininity. They emerge from a totally different starting point and therefore lead not only to a different mothering but also to a different existence altogether, a different society?a society of balance and peace.

close this panel
Daria
Excerpt

The sun at Santiago Island. Ana Magalhães was picked up by the PIDE when she was blissfully sleeping in her apartment in Lourenço Marques. Francisco was away in the north of Mozambique doing some important revolutionary work with other FRELIMO members. When the secret state police came in the middle of night, Ana was taken by surprise, for she was immersed in the most beautiful dream. In this dream, she was in the middle of the city of Lourenço Marques, in the central avenue of this stunning pearl of light, the famous Avenida do Ultramar, standing on top of a military convoy with Francisco and many other comrades, men and women. The Avenida was full of people, black and white, poor and rich, young and old, mulatto, Indian, Indian Black, Chinese, Chinese Black, and many other tonalities that the world can engender. There were all kinds of people in the convoy where Ana stood and all kinds of people around it. The crowd filled that entire long avenue that went on for kilometres and kilometres, only to end at the bay by the Indian sea. They were all were chanting, dancing, and hugging one another. Some were even making love in open view, all naked, frantically thrusting into one another and going from one to another, as if they had forgotten the vows of monogamy that certain types of marriage can impose. It was as if they could not care less if they were doing it with a white person, a Black person, or all the others that fall in between. Perhaps they were followers of a truly democratic polygamy, a future trend that was to take over in Mozambique and other countries around the world, African and otherwise. Ana herself was not just offering herself to Francisco, as she had done up to that point. She was opening her legs and her blouse to anyone who came to her to offer love and tenderness. And Francisco was doing the same and smiling and smiling, a smile of solace and contentment, the smile of a man who has so much love to give and receive that he cannot stop giving it and receiving it. People were also drinking and smoking ganza. Everyone was high, everyone was happy, and everyone was thanking the gods for this thing that had finally happened, this thing they had been nourishing for a very long time and for which they had suffered so much, for which they had lost many of their friends. This was a true festa, a festa dos vivos, a feast of the living, where everyone felt that finally the idea had manifested itself. At some point in the dream, Ana looked up. It was just at the moment when she had finished the most ferocious act of lovemaking with a man that she had never seen before, a man who made her go to heights that she did not rememberever having climbed with Francisco, even in the early days when their love was intense and fresh and their need for one another did not seem to ever appease itself. She looked up and saw the name of the street, and she realized that she was in the middle of Avenida da Liberdade and not in the middle of Avenida do Ultramar. At that moment of sudden awareness and cognition, she could not contain her happiness. She felt drunk to the core, inebriated with the sudden discovery that she no longer lived in a place that made her keep her mouth closed and forbade her from making love freely with the man of her choice. She felt sure that she had reached the place that she and Francisco, and all the others, had been trying to reach, that place where everyone could be paid equally for the fruits of their labour. They had reached a place where the light of the sun, the gentle lunar illumination, the soothing coolness of the weather, and all the other sensations that time and place allow us to have could be shared by the people of Mozambique. She felt so sure that she screamed from the top of her lungs so that everyone in that long avenue, which ended only at the bay by the Indian Ocean, everyone in that city, and everyone in that country could hear her. She screamed to everyone, shouting about her sudden discovery and pointing to the sign that now said Avenida da Liberdade. And as she did that, she also saw the magnificent administrative building across the avenue, and she became aware of the slogan in big letters hanging from it: This is Mozambique. She screamed again. She screamed louder than before, pointing at the street sign and the banner frantically, trying to inform the others of her sudden discovery. Everyone looked up, and everyone stopped what they were doing for a moment to stare at that blue neon sign. It was surrounded by a gentle dark light, as if it were dawn and the people were now waking up, waking up to stare at the beautiful dream that was no longer a dream but something very tangible they could grasp with their own hands, their own fingers, their saliva. There was a general silence, and everyone prayed with their hands held up high. Some even knelt on the floor and murmured words of gratitude to the forces that made it all happen. At that very moment of happiness, meditation, and beautiful realization, before all the people could really see the slogan hanging down from the building across the avenue, Ana was shaken violently by two rude and sturdy PIDE agents, one black and one white. And that was the beginning of a long and arduous nightmare, one that lasted for two years, two days, five hours, and seven minutes.

She was twenty-five years old then. She was a tall fierce woman with long black hair and unending legs that seemed to be made to walk the world from corner to corner or to penetrate deeply into the jungles of Africa and compete resolutely with the tall trees, without getting lost or breaking. She loved Africa more than anything, and though she had not visited any other continent, she knew she was home and had no desire to leave that home. Her ancestors had been living in Mozambique since the early nineteenth century. They had come from a region in the northern interior of Portugal, the province of Trás-os-Montes, a land full of mountains and rocky granite stones and snow and poverty, with little houses lost in the middle of that vast chain of mountains. The territory extends to the Spanish border, and many say that the most hardworking and fierce Portuguese people can be found there. She had never felt drawn to visit this land where her ancestors had come from, like many people do?people who are always looking for that which can never be found. She had no desire to travel the world and go from place to place to find happiness, to find wholeness. She was happy and whole where she was?or so she had thought before she had met Francisco. She first met him when she was twenty-one years old in a public gathering of FRELIMO members that had taken place in a recondite corner of Niassa, away from the vigilant eyes of the PIDE secret agents. When she saw Francisco, she could not resist his magnetism, the passion that shone in his eyes and the assurance that his thick sensual voice transmitted as he declaimed manifestos and poems about the destiny of man. He spoke about the right that everyone has to wake up in a land that they can call their own; a land that feeds all and allows people to speak their minds, their emotions, their souls; a land that allows men to make love with women in open air, without shame; a land that makes people want to wake up in the morning and walk slowly through the day that their feet can savour the feast of the early cooling dew, or the heat of the midday sun, or the mystery of the dark night. Francisco was twenty-nine years old when she saw him. That blessed day was a new beginning for her. Just like Daria, the beautiful Daria with the poetic soul, Ana also felt that Francisco was the man she had been looking for all along. He was the purpose for which she had been made a woman, the purpose of her entire existence. He was her love, her revolution, her land. He made her want, and want more. He made her feel at home. He made her want to lie under him so that he could teach her how to become a woman and how to wake her body into wholeness. There were many people at that event, people of all ages, ethnicities, and colours. There were men and women and even precocious children who already had in their souls the desire to feel freedom, even though they were children and ought to feel free all the time, ought to feel that fairy tales are not tales but pulsating truth illuminating their night. The next thing Ana was aware of was waking up somewhere pitch dark and very cold. Though she did not know at the time, she was on Santiago Island in Cape Verde, very far from the Indian Ocean, inside that swamp of slow death that was Tarrafal. They did not take her to Machava in Mozambique where most of the political prisoners of that distant Ultramarine Province were often kept. They chose to take her far away, to the other colony, on the Atlantic Ocean, so that she would be isolated, trapped on that lonely inaccessible island, cut off from any of her relations and thus impeded in continuing her cause. When she woke up in Tarrafal, in a cold, freezing, small room, she was naked and felt her body was bruised all over. She was hurting. She was hurting a lot. She did not recall how she got there. She did not know whether it was night or day because she was imprisoned in a small dark cement cell, completely sealed, in which no ray of light was visible.

close this panel
29 leads to love
Excerpt
body map

part there

part here

part beyond

this longitude struggle

this longitude strife

this latitude song

joint between here and song

cartilage joining there beyond

organ a function of struggle here there beyond

limbs traveling

struggle strife song

here there beyond

body a cartography traversing and transgressing frontiers

For Iraq, March 2003

somewhere love
but here

15 tots
noosed by the sashes
of 15 stained bonnets
sashes with xerographic transfers
of archival papers

collaboration
lost in the crack
in between two sets
of contrasting train tracks

cold weight
of snowflakes
multihued
like an oil spill

christening gown for trees
suspended
over a grove of five young poplar trees
planted in cement

15 hand stitched doll garments
of an unknown child
somewhere love
but here
an attack
called war
and slipping hegemony
mistaken for omnipotence

On the immaterial

she said I can count on two
fingers
the times I've been lifted

he said
I don't remember
the number of times
I've been lifted
as a baby
small child
when ill
but I know when I have felt held
skin to skin
tear drop to tear drop

today in Kenya,
the streets of Mexico
South Korea
people are holding together
because they feel unheld

I can count on two fingers
the times I've been lifted
but today
with my two fingers and
entire being
I can and will
hold

close this panel
close this panel

User Activity

more >
X
Contacting facebook
Please wait...