I recently returned from a week of writing at Voices of Our Nations, a writers’ retreat for writers of color.
I hadn’t written in a space like that, ever.
I hadn’t been pulled from the inside out like that.
I hadn’t been told, again and again, that I mattered, that my writing was brilliant.
No one had ever told me that they read my words over and over and over again.
As I wrote about grief, the cloud of it, the circulating, fluid, smoke of it, and as I wrote about my grandmother and the missing, forgotten pieces of my people’s histories, I realized that my craft could take me (and my readers) places that we can’t get to otherwise. I can take us on a journey, winding, nonlinear, experimental, surprising, and ominous. I can take us there, to places we haven’t visited before. But, I need to sit down and let my hand spill out my curling thoughts, my spirit, in order for that journey to take place.
Voices of Our Nations gave me the go ahead; the go ahead in my life to make room for my craft. Together, we gave me permission to be a writer. And my teacher told me that I was brilliant. And my classmates told me that I was badass. And, it’s amazing how, as a woman of color, as a queer person, it’s so restorative to hear this praise, and I clutch onto it, and I need it like I need water. I need to remember that I’m great, that I’m beyond publishable, just as much as I need to remember the stories that are pushing out my throat.
I write from memory and from speculation, and I think there is something one in the same about both. I write from my dreams and my fantasies. I write from my ancestors. I write from grief and loss. And I have, until this month, written in isolation. I am saying goodbye to that isolation.
My silence will not protect me, and as a woman, a queer woman, a woman of color my silence is what I must fight against on a daily basis. To come to the page, again and again, to fight against my own erasure, the erasure of my histories, the invisibility of my grief & my joy in the world, that is not only mine, that is my people’s, that is all of ours, collectively. We must write ourselves into creation. And so, here’s to my creation story, just beginning, just beginning.
Fierce Poet Am I.