So I was given the task of writing. But writing is never an easy process and the stories of these young men, shaped my approach to writing and my understanding of silence.
You see so much of what was included was silence, as an act of resistance. The young men chose stories to share, but they also spoke about the stories that they withheld, stories meant to be share between friends, between them I am, in coffee shops, on the corners of the streets. Stories that they felt the academy did not deserve to hear. And they fractured their stories, told it in pieces, made connections as we spoke, but left gaps, sometimes deliberately.
We worked with these silences; these gaps, by turn the gaze from the stories to theory. I pulled on theory to speak back to the academy through these silences.
Writing is a political act… it is a process of choice, of negotiation, of power and of silence. I concluded my thesis with this poem that captures the tensions of trying to create decolonising spaces for stories, and then writing these stories within the very spaces they seek to challenge.
I am not a writer…
My tangled thoughts creep in silence,
Quietly contemplating what ought to be,
And I wake to see this world through different eyes,
Telling the story of each mornings light,
But, I am not a writer.
I breathe heavy at the thought of staining the page,
Stuttering through stages of hope and rage,
Pieces of me captured on a stage,
Exposed and elated by this coming of age,
And I, I am not a writer.
These euphoric moments of holding a pen,
Are followed by shudders and shards,
Like shattered glass we can never be whole,
Like gaps between words we can never be told.
I…am not a writer.
Our histories were stolen,
Our languages lost,
The earth was your canvas,
And our blood was the art,
We have not forgotten,
We carry this pain,
Our lives have been written with the blood of those slayed,
So I am not a writer.
This pen is a symbol,
Not of words but of wars,
Of pain we have lived through,
Pain you adore.
Our histories made romantic,
Our psyche enigmatic,
Our stories told by you,
Are chilling and yet static,
So I…am not a writer.
And yet, I read your words,
As you continue to write me,
Hold me in ivory spaces
Only few can reach,
And I have been taught your theories of me,
Read tales of my toils,
As you pierced through my heart and used my blood as ink,
Every movement of that poisoned pen, causes me to ache.
You have been the writer, and you have held the words.
But your pen cannot carry the weight of all that I hold,
You cannot know the stories I have yet to tell.
So why must I breathe underwater?
Pushed down by lead pens that continue write me,
Why must I close my eyes to love myself?
Knowing that I can build with words that were once broken,
Knowing that I can teach myself to love again.
Some write because they cannot speak,
Caged by language or by walls,
But I write to write myself anew,
To see words on a page, not as stains but of starts,
I write to be hopeful,
Piecing together shattered glass, to find the stories in the cracks,
I write, not to make myself whole, but to write myself home.
I write… but I am not a writer.