Tekkin’ Back Tongue, is a self-directed writing residency cum poetry manuscript born of churchgoers routinely pleading the Accra sky until 4:30 am, in a palpable residuum of colonization, slave dungeons and a turbulent Gulf of Guinea. New poetry formed in hectic trotros and jammed cultural and music festivals, while being inspired by ancient juju and coded storytelling, in Ghana and Kenya over 80 days. I traced Jamaican Créole to its Ga, Twi and Fanti roots, and studied root oral and literary traditions.
When I first arrived in Canada as a young child, I was told I could no longer speak my native Jamaican-Créole. What other language was I to use? I took back tongue in 2018, in very intensive and remedial ways. Reclaiming voice against tyrannies that silence, is central to my work as a lyric-driven storyteller committed to social justice. Tekkin’ Back Tongue, is a double entendre for the reclamation of voice and language.
Morning pages, from Julie Cameron’s, The Artist’s Way, has become a steady part of my writing practice. Studying the root artistic and storytelling practices of my bloodlines remains integral to my writing process.
The authors I would choose to write a wicked version of my life would be Shani Mootoo and Audre Lorde. (Our literatures often blur lines between the living and the dead.) They would skillfully pen a poignant, precise, subversive work.
If I co-created the rules of the world, a writer’s life would be financed toward a very comfortable standard of living, active decolonization toward social justice, lucrative performance and publication opportunities and collaborative networking. Artists would immerse in practice and eat well!
Ten years from now, I hope, Tekkin’ Back Tongue, is discussed in feminist, BIWOC / BIPOC circles including social justice, accessibility, education, performance and literature.
The highlight of my writing life so far, has been Tekkin’ Back Tongue,” my self-directed writing residency, and the Ontario Arts Council, Skills and Career Development: Indigenous Arts Professionals and Arts Professional of Colour, grant that made it possible.