Sometimes, Love, Inshallah editors stumble across something so powerful that we are left speechless. This spoken-word performance, “Not My Fault,” from poet/writer/activist Staceyann Chin , is something we had to share.
Chin is a mutli-racial immigrant from Jamaica, a woman raised without a father by a mother who left Chin as a child to come to America, a story eloquently outlined her 2009 The Other Side of Paradise – A Memoir.
She is also a LGBT activist and writes about the oppression that forced her to leave Jamaica. Her writing and performances often explore intersections of the immigrant experience, sexuality, and female empowerment.
Chin opens this poem by stating, “Today, I am so glad I am a girl, because yesterday, my mother told me to write my story.” Her delivery is so powerful that you stop breathing as she gasps for her own air. She explores the power of writing, the complex nature of mother-daughter love, the challenges we face as women learning to value our own stories.
The female immigrant experience, the power of writing, the freedom of telling. It is all here.
Listen to the end, when she triumphantly declares - Go out and change the world you live in! It is the only world you have.
It has never been my nature to attract romantic love, or to stumble into it unawares. The men I studied and worked with rarely interested in me, and I don’t believe I interested them either. I was discreet, invisible, unseen, unheard. I was content with being a colleague, a classmate, an acquaintance – nothing more.
It has also never been my nature to share myself with others. I have always written, but have been too shy to share it publically. The thought of someone reading my words was as daunting as the thought of someone walking in on me while I was in the trance of prayer, or reading over my shoulder as I wrote a beseeching supplication to God. Writing—like prayer, like sex—was sacred, meant to be shared only with those who are deeply loved and trusted. Instead of sharing my words with a giant, faceless public, I always dreamed of writing for someone: essays and poems about myself, him, and our inner universes.
Suddenly, one day, I was acknowledged as a woman.
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A “Wasat Girl” embraces being in-between multiple cultures, because this transcultured space is globalism living out loud. It was where culture happens, the place of power, that middle space – “wasat” culture. The children of wasat girls are pretty amazing, as well. In honor of Mother’s Day, Deonna Kelli Sayed explores the challenging yet rewarding terrain of being a single, American-Muslim mother.
I told my son that his father and I were no longer together while eating at one of those snazzy serve-yourself yogurt bars.
“How would you feel if your pader and I weren’t married anymore?” I asked.
I had no idea his thoughts on the matter. His father was abroad and had been for several years. They saw one another for a few weeks every couple of months. I know that they both loved each other.
“Well, I guess I’d be a little sad, although I suppose not much would change,” he commented.
I inhaled and nervously told him that we had decided to end the marriage. He remained silent for a minute, took a spoonful from his bowl and said in his 10 year old way, “Well, you know, now that I’m eating yogurt, it doesn’t seem that bad.”
Thus, I entered the ranks of being a divorced, single Muslim mother.
Love, Inshallah reviews a beautiful collection of poetry from poet, mother and rabbi, Rachel Barenblat. In her fourth poetry collection, Waiting To Unfold (April 2013, Phoenicia Publishing), Rabbi Barenblat documents her pregnancy and the first year of her son’s life through her powerful voice, unfurling the jubilations and challenges of motherhood.
A perfect Mother’s Day gift – purchase your copy, here!
Love, Inshallah (LA): You are a writer, a poet, and a Velveteen Rabbi. Tell us a little bit about the link between creativity and a woman’s spirituality. Why is it important to write/speak/create art?
Rachel Barenblat (RB): For me, creativity is a tremendous spiritual gift. I’ve learned over the years that I am most spiritually healthy when I’m creating, which usually means writing poems. Having a regular writing practice gives me a creative outlet. And having a regular prayer practice gives me a spiritual outlet, too.
Some years ago, in my early 30s, I suffered from a few strokes, and the way I made it through that adventure (which was scary and unfamiliar) was through writing poems, and through working with my spiritual director on the spiritual qualities I needed most. For me, the two — writing and spiritual life — are deeply interconnected.
Jewish tradition says that God spoke the world into being, and that God continues to speak the world into being now. There’s a connection between words and creation, between words and life. When I write poems, I feel as though I’m connected with God — my words also create worlds, though on a much smaller scale! And when I became a mother, I felt a new kind of connection with God as the Parent of all creation.
Check out this gorgeous project, “Follow Me,” by Russian photographer Murad Osmann. Each shot is of the back of his girlfriend as she leads him hand through various locations around the world. The project started when she became annoyed that he was so occupied with his camera and started pulling him by the hand. Read more about the project, here.
Dear Love InshAllah,
How do I talk to my sister about sex? She’s 24 and about to get married. I’d like to be able to talk to her about this, but she makes me feel uncomfortable whenever I say something that is remotely close to the topic.
Why is sex so taboo
Ms. Sunshine replies:
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How do you find the time to write?
After questions of sleep habits, and diaper bags, it’s the question I’m asked most frequently. Between sleep deprivation, chasing one son while soothing the other, and the other seemingly endless tasks that can quickly eat away at a day, many moms find that their writing takes a back burner.
It could just be me, but as I talk to more women I’m beginning to suspect that it’s the nature of being a stay-at-home mom. You prioritize and reprioritize but somehow taking the time to hone your creativity is on the bottom rung in terms of importance because it’s something so exclusively and unquestionably yours. When your main role is to be the caregiver, it’s easy to forget to care of yourself. And taking time to create, as any creative person knows, is as much a part of self-care as showering or brushing one’s teeth.
With two little ones under three, it’s not as easy as it once was to find the time and mental bandwidth to write. But, slowly but surely I’m on my way. So how do I manage to create the time and space to ensure that I write? Here are five tips that work for me and may be of benefit for you: