The Center for Cultural Innovation, here in California, awarded me a 2013 Visual Arts, Craft and Literary Arts Investing in Artist grant in the amount of $10,000 under the artistic innovation category, to support the creation of a self-published poetry collection inspired by my estrangement from my father, who now resides in Guyana. This project will involve, but not limited to, researching settlements of escaped slaves in Venezuela, immigration and aliens, water ecology; a book and letter exchange—a community participation component where I ask folks to write letters to their estranged fathers, which I will use to create an epistolary mash-up for a later collection, and in exchange for their letter, I will give them a copy of the poetry collection; and lastly, a visit to Guyana before the end of 2014.
I will be documenting my research, findings, and thoughts on a private blog, which I will later make public, as part of the grant and for my own personal archive. The idea of this project came about when my mother asked if I wanted to write my father–I recently turned 33 and the start of my 30s was quite tumultuous and I found myself in a space where I wanted to know, more fully, who am I. Where do I come from? And not that I necessarily have complete answers to those questions, but when I’ve sat with them, what arises are the absences and the feeling of loss as a result. What I know is that there is some healing to be done, for me and for my father.
This is a journey that is about assembling the stories of what I know about him and his (our) family history to construct a broader and more complex picture of my own humanity.