Letter to a Young Mother. Imagine Home.
Collective poetry, 2018
“Letter to a Young Mother. Imagine Home” is a cut-up text based on spoken words that emerged during the co-creation production processes of “HOME”, the current cycle of collective performance operas by VestAndPage. The text encompasses the contribution of over 70 international artists and non-artists, with a variety of life stories and cultural backgrounds. A selection from the multitude of words that arouse during discussions around the topic of home, have been collected, written down and finally arranged by VestAndPage into a one-voice-poetry. In this resulting collective poem authorship is deluded, as the single voice eventually complements the other, to give shape to a text in which all –apparently disconnected– parts fall together into a whole.
Tonight, the drones of our countries
Will raze to the ground another village.
So, don’t waste your time
With those who don’t ever ask
Who the fuck they are on a Sunday morning
When they go to church.
We are standing. We are never on solid ground. We continue.
All we have to do is a simple act,
For all the knowledge that is in this space
It is what we are
No one shall be afraid of his or her truth.
I am new to this experience.
Of being inside myself,
I know my past, but I can’t see my future.
My past is in my front, the future is in my back,
so, I harbor the tension in my spine and expose it to you, youngmother,
To cover it again, to externalize, contain.
If I dig to the roots, I see that we are all entry points—
Stories that flow into many
And become sore in the ambience of life.
You’re damned if you do
And you’re damned if you don’t see and expect to be seen.
There’s so much we don’t know, but we do as if to play normal.
I am walking on thin ice.
Torn between scaring and relieving trauma,
Be they sane and insane.
I am the organic Opus Dei, mortified, unsanctified,
Carving altars to forgive
who is still cutting women up
And turning them into objects.
I am not speaking out anybody else’s truth,
For I, myself, I am nothing.
But you, youngmother,
are the crack in the house that opens up
so, water can pass through the crevasses
of ancestral territory.
We are projecting onto the image we are into.
And yet, I don’t believe in universality,
Because there is always culture,
And when we name it, we can look at it,
And when we’re ready,
We can throw it away.
We choose our labels,
We stitch to them and get rid of them
When we need to.
Bodies need to be unpacked. Homes need to be opened.
It is so difficult to be different.
So, choose your way, youngmother.
Do not care if someone persists
To judge the other by stereotypes,
For the other – the special one –
Could be the hyper-physics—
Which un-restrains the evolution.
Don’t lose the ones you love, youngmother,
For the day they fall from your view,
A piece of you will also die,
Even though you’ll find no reason.
Yet who needs reason once you’ve made
Of your existence an act of poetic revolt?
Choose your future, youngmother.
Systems want us to believe
That driving crazy for all the materialistic bullshit,
Trying to succeed even though
the idea of success has been surpassed,
Is for the better.
When does it get real?
Life is a minefield to get through
But we should go beyond the physical action
And the breath we take to honor the issue.
And what do we want to create from here?
They push us to build our lives on rage,
Or on the science of a systematic stain
To control and fuck our minds up
Drag us down to a level
Of social, sexual, inoffensive mediocrity,
And to a state of spiritual slumber.
Systems invent spurious, convoluted logics
For they need to justify their crimes.
They try to change people
Whose behaviour and ideas
Are outside of the main stream
As they see in them the sign of their failure.
They strive to sedate our perception of the reality
And trade our lands for deadly weapons
In the name of an elusive protection
Designed to create new slavery
And a greater division among us people.
What does all that make us become?
Do you know how a bird is crying?
Just as the night, frightened, pale,
It doesn’t know where to escape.
Does the bird belong to the wind?
Or does the wind
Belong to the bird?
If it’s all about capital, misery
Guilt, death and despair,
I yearn for a bit of silence
In defense of myself to not forget romance,
Even though I’m stranded inside my body
We shut down the borders of our countries
And shout in the face of those running away
— Running for his life —
That he’s a potential terrorist.
So, tell me,
Where can he breathe?
Don’t speak with him: he’s a refugee.
Send him back home. Don’t you have a house?
It’s gone, my children all dead.
Are you baptized? What is your religion?
What is your nationality? What is your ethnicity?
Persona non grata. Rejected.
Can we talk about pain?
My pain is my guilt.
But my guilt comes from where?
Can we talk about shame?
My shame is what you make me think,
And all those history books written by the winners.
Let’s talk about being knifed at a checkpoint by the police,
While crossing the desert disguised in a truck
Desperately driving for hope.
Let’s talk about being stripped off my clothes
Down to the bare bones and end up raped
In a dump wet alley of a Libyan harbor.
Let’s talk about restrictions.
Let’s talk about not being able to move
Chained in a South-African prison because I’m black.
Or let’s talk about queer, about being a daughter, a son.
Yes dad, you say that I have been a bad daughter.
Well, I say that I will be even a worse son.
Yet we continue to philosophize about freedom,
Humming against our fears.
Yes, let’s talk about fear.
Fear of feeling the fear
Of being truly free,
As my freedom ends where your freedom begins.
Let’s talk about having fear of the unknown,
Of leaving and losing,
Of touching and being touched,
Of looking into your eyes,
Of my heart when it’s too tender,
Of time ticking.
Let’s say that modernity’s great promise – the freedom from fear –
Now lies in ruins.
I mean, fear as a medium, not as message.
Fear to take a chance,
Fear as collateral effect, force behind progress
Scoring the aces,
That plays and wins, caressing, embarrassing.
Fear manages. Fear rocks.
Give it a face, a symbol, a trajectory, a luminous trail.
Signs, lines, symbols,
Voices glued on a wall
Along lines, etched,
Undefined by boundaries, real and imaginary.
Let’s identify the cavities,
The ravines, the corners
Where fear is sleeping,
Resting and preparing to wake up.
A coiled snake lurking for the next prey,
A spore near opening.
An independent entity capable of self-reproduction, diffusion,
Crossing thresholds, filtering secret places,
Metamorphic, crystallized into the cracks of a sidewalk,
An anomalous gap between the rails,
A fractal unexplored, not encoded, hard to label.
So where did the ‘I-am-here’ kind of map go missing?
It was never there when I grew up.
And now, look what we’ve got:
Matchboxes for trees and open drains—
Bethlehem, Gaza, Aleppo, Lhasa…
So many places, guarded against.
Every day we die, youngmother,
To be reborn as pulverized stones in a vacuum
Where words are only shells for feelings,
Where we should learn to not leave each other alone,
Otherwise when everything around us is changing
We won’t ever change.
The cycle of trust goes beyond laughter and tears.
In this transitional space of encounters
and other encounters that will be no more,
There will always be someone who’ll say—
You can’t. Play it safe, don’t mix this with that.
But you will.
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in response to what they have traced,
Where there we had been though we cannot say where.
The end and the beginning are always there,
Even if they are not
what we have dreamed of or exactly expected.
You know this already,
It’s all complexity,
And what we call the beginning
Is often the end— that which from where
We restart again.
I am who I am,
Carrying some things with me
Without possessing them.
I am in a body that is my body,
A body that is by nature radical
As any other-ed body is.
Would you stand with me and hold my hand?
Imagine… Imagine a people, a people of hope,
A people of vision, who yearn for knowledge,
People who believe in themselves
As well as believe in everyone else,
All accepting aspects of one another,
Progressive, open spirits questing evidence and compassion.
Now, imagine death.
Can you see it?
It’s like staring at the sun.
You can only see it at eyes closed.
Now, imagine life.
What does it look like?
Would you stand with me and hold my hand?
Thomas Amisare (GH), Ivan Bevilacqua (IT), Gianni Calcinai (IT), Cristiana di Rubba (IT), Martina Ermini (IT), Cecilia Ferretti (IT), Filippo Ferretti (IT), Simona Gonnelli (IT), MD Hadaythullah (BD), Ibrahim Karamoko (CI), Mahamadou Konare (CI), Boubacare Konate (CI), Gianna Mancini (IT), Matteo Meucci (IT), Lucio Miglionico (IT), Lorenza Minisci (IT), Marina Morandi (IT), Maria Novedrati (IT), Silvia Pecorini (IT), Francesca Piani (IT), Farida Poggesi (IT), Ilde Serinelli (IT), Diarrasouba Soiilho (CI), Martina Taras (IT), Giovanni Tenucci (IT), Veronica Vannucci (IT), Simon Yeboah (GH)
I Left My Story Home (HOME I), Florence, Italy, 2017
Tomas Diafas (GR), Fenia Kotsopoulou (GR), Josephine Makris (GR), Ariadne Pediotaki (GR), Maria Zourou (GR)
Aegis VI (HOME II), Thessaloniki, Greece, 2017
Shola Cole (US/UK), Sara Kostić (RS), Manuel Lopez Garcia (ES), Marco Nektan (RS), Ivana Ranisavljević (RS), Katarina Ranković (RS), Albert Smith (SA/UK), Alex Spyke (RS), Vedran Vucić (RS)
After the Fear (HOME III), Belgrade, Serbia, 2017
Sylvie Barbier (TW/FR), Stefan Biere (DE), Madeleine Virginia Brown (UK), James Thomas Bullimore (UK), Bruno Camargo (BR/IT), Don Chow (CA), Leman Sevda Darıcıoğlu (TR), Erin Devine (US), Samira Engel (DE), Julha Franz (BR), Marisa Garreffa (AU/IT), Ria Jade Hartley (UK), Paola Kodra (AL), Marie Künne (DE), Gerhard Liska (AT), Nancy Gewolb Mayanz (CL), Ashley-Louise McNaughton (UK), Yuan Mor’O Ocampo (PH), Daniela Francesca Lillo Olivares (CL), Eva Pyrnokoki (GR), Daiane Rafaela (BR), Enok Ripley (CA), Jewel A Rob (BD), Sara Simeoni (IT), Marcel Sparmann (DE), Alex Spyke (RS), Alex Talamo (AU)
Come Home (HOME IV), Venice, Italy, 2017
Stanislaw Baldyga (PL), Dominika Borkowska (PL), Maria Nova (PL), Joanna Pietrowicz (PL)
Mother (HOME V), Sopot, Poland, 2018
Further contributions by the Sarai Editorial Collective and Raqs Editorial Collective (Monica Narula, Shuddhabrata Sengupta and Jeebesh Bagchi), Ambarien Alqadar, Cybermohalla Ensamble, Claudia Roselli. With edited quotes by Albert Camus, Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger, Voodoo Warriors of Love (John Crossley, Lenroy Guiste and Patcee Francis), and Irvine Welsh.
Collection, arrangement and editing by VestAndPage (Verena Stenke & Andrea Pagnes), 2017-2018
Proofread by Marisa Garreffa
Link to the project: https://www.vest-and-page.de/home-cycle-2017