Today’s featured lit is a dope collaborative poem titled “How to Become a Genealogist” by Aiko Yamashiro, Joanna Gordon, Joy Lehuanani Enomoto, Serena Ngaio Simmons, Jocelyn Kapumealani Ng, Lyz Soto, Anjoli Roy, Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio, Noʻukahauʻoli Revilla, Mehanaokala Hind, Grace Teuila Taylor.
This poem was published on the blog Ke Kaʻupu Hehi ʻAle with the following introduction from Aiko Yamashiro:
“Where is home? Call it prayer.” –Lyz Soto, Our Bodies of Stories
In December 2016, at the Honolulu Academy of Arts Doris Duke Theater, our dear friend Lyz Soto debuted her stunning spoken word performance, “Our Bodies of Stories.” Working closely with fellow poets Jocelyn Kapumealani Ng, Serena Ngaio Simmons, Grace Teuila Taylor, and Joanna Gordon, Lyz showed us how, with enough trust, the autobiographical can be collaborative. Can be community.
Together the women bore stories of finding and losing ancestors, fierce diaspora blood, offerings to new and old homes, taxonomical ruins. Of Maui, of Kahoʻolawe. Of ‘āina making women making each other.
It was such a deep thrill to witness these stunning artists create together, such a blessing to feel the sore of my own stories being held by their truths.
In January, on the plane ride home from Maui, where we had the great opportunity to share the performance at the MACC, we started this collaborative list poem. The writing that came out of that felt too honest and committed not to share with you.
For Lyz, and our genealogies, mahalo nui for your strength and belief. –Aiko
The songs I’ve decided to play around this collaborative poem are the following:
- Mood’s “Love Is Real,” because I feel so blessed to be connected to these beautiful women who remind me, in each day of our friendship, the breadth and depth of love.
- Dobet Gnahoré’s “Samahani.” This song is about forgiveness, about saying you’re sorry, and I selected it because 1) Dobet Gnahoré is another powerhouse of a woman, much like the women featured in this poem and 2) because I think memory is a kind of forgiveness; it’s something that asks for forgiveness as we call up memories from the depths. That makes me think of Nicky Loomis‘s words–asking why it is that the generation that wants to remember comes after the ones who want to forget. This song makes me think about the jubilance of that forgiveness, or re-membering ourselves.