Photo Kai Rutlin
The title is a rephrasing of what Toni Morrison said about writing the book you want to read. I didn’t set out to do both – write books I wanted to read and publish them. After I’d made up my mind to self-publish, swallowing the sensation of ego tripping and self-aggrandisement, there were some avenues to be published by outside companies. But I’d made up my mind.
I’ve learnt that sometimes you have to do it yourself – that you are likely the best person to execute your vision. You trust and know yourself. And even if you don’t quite, and feel petrified, you have to find some way of believing in yourself. And keep believing in yourself, until you can prove yourself to no one but yourself.
Good always comes So another note from Toni Morrison, my mentor elect is that though the project/task will be difficult – this shouldn’t obviously show in the outcome. Those difficulties and outcome (product) must appear symbiotic. You become philosophical because there is no other way to surpass those obstacles that greet you daily as you pursue your vision. You tell yourself – you can do it. It must in fact be your will to PROVE it to yourself that such is possible. Doubt, anxiety, fear, lack of finance must be countered by constant affirmations like DIVINE ORDER and ONLY GOOD CAN COME. Speak less about the difficulties – which is half the task of overcoming and more about the learning experiences that come with the challenges. The apparent cheesiness of communicating with the Universe is in truth very important. By this I mean, it is imperative one believes that the Universe wants you to succeed. The Universe delights in your success; sets up opportunities that mask themselves as challenges merely to test our WILL. And my IMAGINATION through which I encounter strategies to push when I need to, pull when I must, give when that time has come and take my share – this too is tested. It is a matter of consistent communication with the ALL SOURCE of which I am an individuated expression through which it experiences. How then can I avoid the push and pull – I must embrace the strong winds of deep flight if I am to enable the SOURCE to experience itself through me. And when one simple progress is made, I give thanks for passing those necessary tests.
Keeping your head There are times when all around you people are losing their heads. You either join them or keep yours. If you can do the latter at least you can help them should they wish. But if you’ve set yourself a task, made the promise to the Universe (simply by saying you WILL do this or that thing) you need to follow through. For you have set in motion elements of Universal Intelligence that depend on your efforts to align. It might be understood thus – ‘no weapon fashioned against me will prosper’ as Psalm 91 reads. That is because your EFFORTS alone in the midst of chaos and emotional drama (trauma) propels the Universal Intelligence to continue advancing your WILL. As such you cannot fail. There is no weapon (read vibration) stronger than your WILL TO DO GOOD. So long that is as you remain focussed. Those voices of doubt will come. Anxieties will overwhelm. You will feel alone. You’re not – though, if you contemplate your relationship with SOURCE. You can call this SOURCE, Oludumare, Nyame, God, Allah and so on – you and IT are ONE.
Michelle Yaa Asantewa, Mama Lou (Lucille Davis), Ateinda Ausarntu, Photo Kai Rutlin
Surround yourself with the likeminds Those likeminds need not be physical! They can be represented by uplifting words, prayers, books, other writers and creatives, positive forces that impact your reality in illuminating ways. Love YouTubers, for example who have tapped into the Universal Call and share their experiences so that we are all empowered by our creativity. That’s at least how I see the myriad lessons on the platform that means you can be self-sufficient and save time and resources. This also means accepting that the backpat loving and congrats or support you might be seeking from some people around you is not necessarily going to come from them. For they won’t always SEE you in the light of your CREATIVE EXPANSION. Instead, they will see you through limited lenses of your humble birth and not like, say, the pussy cat who sees its reflection as that of a tiger. They cannot SEE YOUR DESTINY. Your worth is a cosmological mystery, for although coconuts are bunched together, they retain their own secretly poured sweet water. You must remember and treasure your unique powers – no one can appreciate YOU as GOD (your DIVINE) does. See yourself as GOD SEES YOU. And be content therein.
So why these books?
Eric Huntley, Photo Kai Rutlin
An abridged answer is that it was a necessary homage to my ancestors by way of launching my writing and publishing intentions. Because my ancestors have been there always, and certainly through every major experience of my life, including the supposed ‘breakdown’ during my first degree, I needed to pay them this tribute. These books seemed the best way to do so. It was after said experience at University that I changed course and stumbled on this greater need to LIVE a spiritual experience guided by my ancestors.
Guyanese Komfa: the ritual art of trance – is from my PhD research, which was completed in 2009. After so doing, I tried to send the thesis to publishers but responses didn’t come. I didn’t try hard, to be honest. I made the contacts, but didn’t always pursue after I didn’t get a response – not sure if this was arrogance, annoyance or reticence. It may be that I didn’t have the time. Also I sensed that there might be issues with the form of the work – for it is multi-disciplinary – combining critical theory, social science, literary criticism and creative writing. I believe it was partly this that meant I was not rewarded funding by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), when I appealed for their help with doing the PhD; and from other potential funders. I was awarded a scholarship by my University in the end – through the Caribbean Studies Centre at London Metropolitan University, headed by Professors Jean Stubbs and Clem Seecharan – the centre is sadly closed now. The research proposal was turned down by Goldsmith University who wanted me to do something on literature only – keeping it as a one discipline thing! The only straightforward support came from my Supervisor Dr Patricia Murray, who had never heard of Komfa but trusted me to complete the project in the form and style I chose. Eusi Kwayana had also been very supportive from the beginning, which gave me confidence that I was doing something worthwhile.
Something Buried in the Yard is a metaphor for the forgotten traditions of my ancestors. It is about revisiting cultural identity, given our dispersal from the Continent of Africa. It’s about reconnecting with traditional practices by which we felt at one time socially empowered. It’s about accepting that our spirituality is a force that cannot be denied, that the drum will never be silenced. I hoped it might encourage Guyanese particularly to reimagine their sense of cultural and national identity. For others, it would reshape sensibilities about spiritual phenomena and address the cognitive dissonance that blight many of us. We know but pretend we don’t. The self-denial, consequent of enslavement and colonisation (of mind) is overtired now – we’re actively continuing our psychic persecution.
Mama Lou Tales is a biography of my mother, which means it is also about my grandparents, whom I adored. It was an honour to acknowledge my mum’s life. Her struggles always concerned me for various reasons. I always wanted to know why she did this thing or that, made the decision to come to England, for example. And then leaving me and three siblings there – with her twin who already had a houseful of children. Why she left my father to rejoin the man who abandoned her, though he was her husband. Why, why, why? She rarely complained about our ‘lot’ – that we don’t have material stuff; ‘silver and gold I have none’ she’d say but I have the word of God. Only we differed in our interpretations about this God, till we are finally at middle ground, I believe. I don’t know why I added this to the publications list for the year, but it was compelling and I went with it. I accept that not every WHY has a BECAUSE.
Margaret David reading from Mama Lou tales, Photo Kai Rutlin
The Triple Book Launch It was special in ways I'll try to do justice to here. I give thanks to everyone who attended the #triplebooklaunch, featuring #Guyanesekomfa on Saturday 23rd July. You came as we'd hoped. With open hearts and minds, with love therein to experience spiritual upliftment as I through way wive wordz Publishing and Bogle L’Ouverture Publications tried to encourage in the writing. As I looked at the audience, I observed the warmest smiles along with some curious faces, but not strained - the sun perhaps relax those tight cheeks! From the Nation Song entrance, stirred up by wonderful drumming, to the libation, the readings, the pretty canapes (most homemade by some great friends – actually my family - who're always supporting – and those with whom I surround myself as the physical likeminds), the lovely children who rocked to the drums, reminding us of their beautiful spirit - this was an altogether blessed and memorable day. The libation was a highlight - thanks (brother)Nana Kofi Adjetey Kuto we learnt new vibrations - and not before time, appreciating the good spirits he called on to bless the day.
Acknowledgements I thank those drummers who welcomed the opportunity to contribute - Prince, Chauncey, Gary, Blaggie (if I recall the name correctly), Haydock and Eli. I thank Margaret David for doing a tremendous job hosting the day and the excellent reading from Mama Lou – herein is your calling (from Universe –hark!); and John David for his consistent support, allowing us to use the vibrant Johmard Community Centre. Special thanks to my dear Katherine Nanena for her 110% all the time. Thank you Ateinda Ausarntu for your beautiful patience - and the catering prep, the lifting those heavy books (!). To Olivia Hatlman - the Canapes you made looked and tasted superb. Tracey Nanena, bless you for the chicken and samosas. Tony, thank you - for the balloons (skin teet) and stage maninger stylie! Cheryl thanks for all your help. Senzenie and Accabre and other members of the Huntley family – like Kai Rutlin who took many of these pictures - thank you all. Uncle Eric Huntley, thank you for allowing us to publish Guyanese Komfa jointly with Bogle L’Ouverture publications – and for those shoulders on which I stand. Khabira Mwali you are a star - for taking care of mum, and cashiering. Peri and Anthony and Chi-Ming Tan who pitched in - thanks for coming and showing the love. Scott Jason Smith for the stunning covers for these books - whose artworks were provided by the ever giving Universe (in the form of my niece, Leah Gordon, Brian Clark and Ivey Hayes). Dwight Duroni-Davy - thanks for filming bits of the event.
It would be remiss of me not to mention Book Printing UK who contributed to the Universal Intelligence gearing me to success. Thanks for putting up with my harassed calls but particularly for fast tracking the last and major title Guyanese Komfa so that I could get it in time for the launch. The near panic was a beautiful illustration of symbiosis at work. You cannot imagine the delight on my face when UPS turned up with those three heavy books of books on Friday morning (the day before the launch!). Thank you so much.
My mother and my father
The launch was extra special because my mother Lucille, Clarice, Alberta Davis, whose biography is featured among the three books (MAMA LOU) - stole the evening. She was in her element and well deserved. For this special launch was a celebration of ordinary lives and folk whose experiences are often forgotten, if not denied. I wanted to show that it is possible to do amazing things with ordinary people and because those very lives MATTER; that indeed whilst Toni Morrison would say "if there's a book you'd like to read that's not been written, you must write it" - that I could do that and publish it too! And finally the launch was special because there was a clear sense of ancestors being present - the spirit of my father, particularly. A young Amos Bursary scholar (doing anthropology) whom I met a couple weeks ago attended (on his own) after my short notice invite to him. He soaked it all up - and I knew he was channelling my father Solomon Isaiah Brotherson - his name too being Isaiah. The launch was a blessing, and I was so humbled by the turn out and that PEOPLE BOUGHT BOOKS! It was wonderful to see some facebook friends make it. And there were many who shared the event - this is how each one teaches one - thanks to those who did).
So if you missed the event and would like to have special discount launch price (plus p&p) copies - please inbox me by 23rd August whereafter the books will be sold at usual retail prices. There will be other launch opportunities I hope you can attend. In any case you might like to get your copies from the website -www.waywivewordz.com