Literature as a European mother tongue: In our series “One is a CROWD”, we introduce you to authors from all over Europe who will be involved in the CROWD OMNIBUS Reading Tour, taking place from May to July 2016, featuring 100 authors who will be travelling through 15 European countries. We asked them questions about text production, reception and mediation. In case you were wondering what a literary activist from Wales looks like, meet Rufus Mufasa! (Photo © instagram.com/weldmeshut)
Do you see yourself as an author? Are you the originator and main authority of your text? And if not, who is, if anyone at all?
We are all authors, be it through music, dance, graffiti, free running, political activism, poetry, photography. We are the heroes of our own story. A rap is a story; a poem is a story, so our creativity makes us authors.
I am the originator of all my own text, but we should never ignore our sources of inspiration. My work is full of calypso, reggae and beat poetry. It would criminal to not give a shout out to Harry Belafonte and Dylan Thomas, for example. Candy Royalle’s “Brother” blew me away and inspired me to write a performance poetry piece in response. It would be disrespectful to not acknowledge my inspiration, so I titled it “Ode to Candy Royalle”. We can take things we like, it’s unavoidable, inspiration is everywhere, but we need to be respectful of people’s ideas, hard work, and this breads a great creative relationship with others, and creative minds needs other creative minds to grow.
I suppose you could also say that my daughter is an originator. She inspires so much of my work just by being her, and her view of the world that she shares with me daily is the best education and truly fills me with so much hope. I also suppose that my daughter is an authority on/of my text, as my moral obligation/duty of care to content and cause is paramount in my role to give her guidance and best practice. I care about what she thinks and promote messages of hope, heritage and empowerment, that I hope will make the world a safer place for her long term. I wish this for all our children.
Reading is writing is reading is writing … – why, and if, how?
Reading is like gym training for writers. I also ask the writers that I admire what books they are reading. A writer should not only write every day, but also read every day. To be good at anything, sport, music, art, dance, you must read, eat books for breakfast. The greatest people are great readers. To become great at poetry you must read great poetry.
I was trying to find some information on a type of long grass that my Uncle John taught me to braid with, to include in a poem I was writing. I stumbled across a book called “Braiding Sweetgrass”, by Robin Wall Kimmerer, and it was totally meant to be. The author, of Native American decent, both poet and scientist, gave me so many beautiful blessing through her work. It was a time when I’d just become a new mother, and this whole new appreciation for trees, the land and sustainability, evolved to something next level. Kimmerer explains that when we become mothers, we also become dutiful daughters to the Earth. The book, demonstrating such fine lines between science and spirituality, shows us a loving earth that can support us in abundance, if we could only stop abusing it. The values and lessons from the book transpired in my poetry, music, attitude, relationship with my daughter and my journey through motherhood.
What is your favorite literary spot?
The Wells Hotel, Cardiff, is one of my favourite literary spots. The residents, a dedicated community of artists, run the venue, with a “safe space” policy, showcasing some the best acts from around the world. The Wells always allows you to engage on a donations based set up, but always offers free food (The Wells is home to Food Not Bombs) and you will always leave there with a full heart, a full belly and anything else you need can be found in their free shop. Yes a free shop!! Full of clothes, accessories, literature, resources… their ethos truly is spectacular. The venue nurtures local talent and offers us global artists, and allows diverse networking for world changing causes. The venue showcases art, poetry, music, debate, film… if you are a good cause, have good values, want to promote change, then you are very welcome.