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, ancient juju and coded storytelling.
In 2018, I traced Jamaican Créole to its Ga, Twi and Fanti roots, and studied root oral and literary traditions as they relate to survival, remembrance and documenting culture, in Ghana and Kenya. Audre Lorde’s fear-defying poetry and essays, fueled by resistance, and informed by her Caribbean heritage, are the guiding influence driving this project.
My earliest awareness of my relationship with language is burying my native Jamaican Créole beneath my tongue. Speaking Canadian English as a new immigrant at five years old, meant fending off shame for approval. Tekkin’ Back Tongue, is a double entendre for the reclamation of language and voice in the aftermath of migration and trauma.
Canisia Lubrin’s love of writing, of Nation Language, the richness of Caribbean and other literatures, and commitment to social justice is encouraging. So too is her success in the literary world. I intend for my mentorship experience to infuse my writing with greater precision, economy and skill in the signature sounds of my ever-evolving voices.
Morning pages, from Julie Cameron’s, The Artist’s Way, have become a steady part of my writing practice. Studying the root artistic and storytelling practices of my Afrikan-Jamaican 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, compelling, subversive work.
If I ruled the world, (à la Lauryn Hill), a writer’s life would be financed toward plenty surplus income once the bills are paid on time, active decolonization, lucrative performance and publication opportunities and cross-disciplinary artistic collaborations. Writers could afford to consistently engage in acts of self-care, travel often 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.