Thoughts. Ramblings. Heavy-hipped. Mango-obsessed.

Coffee & Definitions...

I like the smell of coffee when I'm writing. For some reason, it makes me feel like more of 'a writer'. Peppermint tea doesn't quite cut it (though I do like that too).

I've never felt like a writer, though I've sometimes called myself that. And people have called me the same - 'a writer'. Sometimes it's easier to just say I'm a writer - some people have asked me what I'm into & when I've said 'poetry', they reply 'say that again?' or they say 'poultry' and I've had to repeat myself like 2 or 3 times. Ho hum...

Do you have to write everyday to be a writer? Do you have to feel like there's an intolerable itch you need to scratch if you don't write for days at a time? I don't write obsessively, not the way I used to - when I first got into poetry, I was like a nympho - poems scribbled on anything I could write on with anything I could write with. I've calmed down somewhat, almost like a couple who've emigrated to the Caribbean to retire, spending the rest of their days enjoying the simple life. But, I don't dream any less - I dream as feverishly and abundantly as I used to, just like I did before I got into poetry.

I feel 'the itch' if I don't dream everyday though, if I'm not creating things in my head. I have a handful of ideas a day, it's what sustains my spirit - sometimes it's secondary whether these ideas come to fruition or not - it's just the joy of it panning out in my brain - it really quickens my blood.

I'm willing to accept I'm a poet, but not a writer, though I do write. And it's not a confidence issue, you know, of me not feeling I live up to the title - I used to think that that was it, but it isn't. I'm not a poet because I 'write' poetry - I'm a poet inspite of it. I was dreaming in poetry way before that - I could have created music, dance, paintings, film out of my dream-thoughts, but, for now, I (mostly) cho(o)se to 'write' it - 'for now' being the operative word - 'cos 'now' ain't even a constant, not in my world anyway.

Maybe that's why my mind throws a hiccup when I'm called:

- a performance poet
- a performer
- a spoken-word artist
- a writer

and I'm sure I'd feel the same way if, upon exploring music, I'm called a musician or singer.

Two things I know - I'm a poet (in the widest sense possible), I'm Ebele (oh yeah, and I'm a woman). A poet who has chosen to write her poems for now. Next year, I might choose to paint my poems. Hell, year after that, I might dance 'um. Or do all three together. And I don't have to be brilliant at them either - just wanna do what my soul feels to do and not argue with it (did you know my soul has a six-pack?).

So, yeah, I'm a poet (she smiles - a smile so wide, so beauty-full, it distracts you from the spinach lodged b/w her teeth).

ebele (black pixie/ mango ho'/ heart as big as her backside....

( and that's a lot of heart ;-) )

A tradition lost...

my uli painting
I'm Igbo (Nigerian). I was doing some research on an old traditional art form practised by Igbo women called Uli which is (from what I understand) a symbol-based form of body painting & wall painting - symbols can range from nature & everyday village objects to dots & triangles. The idea is to 'go with the flow' and go where your chi (god) takes you - there are no mistakes, everything is as it should be - and so the artist cannot 'correct' her work (nor should she want to, for that matter).

In Igbo mythology, Uli is believed to have been passed down by the Igbo Goddess of Fertility & Creativity to her Chief Painter who then passed it on to women-folk. There are two (or maybe 3) things that upset me:

1) the form has since been adopted (& dominated) by men

2) however, it is a dying art form as it's not practised as widely as it used to

3) however, in its adoption, the traditional form has been adapted into a more contemporary expression (which is cool, but I think the practice should also be expressed/honoured in as close to its original form as possible).

4) there is an organisation (German-based) who specialise in saving old art traditions from extinction who have taken on the revival of Uli; however, they've split the artform into two calling the wall-painting 'Upa' & body-painting 'Uli'. I find this upsetting because although I appreciate their much-needed role in saving this artform, it feels like they've patented it by renaming a part of it.

In exploring my cultural heritage, I've unearthed a beautiful, spiritual art form, but with it comes a history of demise & exploitation that I had no control over - I felt proud to have descended from and to be part of a people with such an artistic legacy - some things about myself had been answered, but I also felt helpless, frustrated and angry that Uli art had been allowed to wither away.

And so I responded/coped by painting into the early hours of the morning.
I am not a painter. I didn't have the tools or the colours for Uli, but I painted with the same spirit.

The picture you see above is what I came up with.

My dad...

My dad turned 75 today...and I am so so proud of him for breathing this long, for sticking around, for being fit & healthy, for being a living testimony to the fact that at a quarter to midnight, the bar ain't closed yet!, the fat lady's still singing. I'm glad he's met his grand-children & great-grandchild and that his life hasn't been squeezed into a story I have to tell them because he’s no longer around. They can meet him, feel him for the man he is.

I'd also like to think the love of a good woman had something to do with it too! My mum & dad have been together for over 40 years. I watch them – he adores the woman! – would do anything for her – he's like a love-sick puppy – and my mum still plays hard to get at times like she ain't interested. They go through these cute phases together – one minute, they're obsessed with nothing but fried rice, next minute it’s fruit smoothies, a couple of months ago, it was a 'let's-stay-up-til-insane-hours-of-the-night-watching-Nigerian-films' phase. It's not always share-and-share-alike though (no, that would be a Hollywood film) – my mum LOVES these cereals called Jordans. He doesn't. My dad boils and drinks the juice from this really bitter leaf called Onugbu which he believes 'invigorates' him. My mum hates it. But I’m like, if she gets to benefit from this renewed sense of energy (if you get my drift), then it's all good! There was a time when they were both glowing and I KNOW she ain’t touched the stuff! More power to 'em!

He's a strong, funny, very very loving man, my dad - he tells me he loves me all the time – in a world where men aren't necessarily encouraged to express their true feelings – are told to bottle them up - 'be a man', whatever that means – well, it takes a human 'being a human' to be a man.

I remember back in the days in Nigeria when it was an abomination for a woman to wear trousers, you were considered an 'ashawo' (a whore) if you did. But my mum put on her jeans and a pair of shades and strolled casually down the street – and my dad walked beside her in his jeans and shades – holding hands. I was about 9 when that happened and it's an image I'll NEVER forget – will always be grateful to them for that.

I saw him in a pair of jeans the other day - for the first time in a very long time. He looked adorable – kept on asking me if the jeans looked good with the trainers he had on.

I wrote this for him a while back:


I was born with Kente cloth wrapped round my umbilical cord, a brown spoon in my mouth to match my skin, and dirt under my fingernails, hands defiantly clutching the soil I once danced on.

The entrance into the world was relatively easy for me - familiar. I had already rehearsed it four times through the eyes of my older siblings. But yet, when the time came, I thought it would be best to cry like the rest of them, for I'd been warned by my brothers and sisters, that if I didn’t cry, I'd get pinched by the nurse. If I didn't cry, I’d be known by all the brown-sugar babies in the world as the 'Un-cry' baby. My reputation would be ruined before I could even crawl. And so I cried and cried and cried. I cried 'til the whole hospital knew I existed, 'til the walls were encrusted with my tears, 'til the cows came home and went back to pasture. I cried…

...and then I stopped

'cos this man - called himself 'Da Da' - picked me up.

'Cos he was crying too...

I felt his afro-haloed face move towards mine, his big, beautiful, black nose press up against my cheek, and his lips press sanctuary onto my bloody forehead.

I didn't have to be washed - his tears did that. Didn't even have to be weighed - his undying affection for his sweat-tired Nigerian queen matched mine for his - pound for pound.

His ‘Da Da’ breath escaped an 'Afum gi n'anya - I love you' into my ears.

I knew we'd be best friends for life.

I love the guy – I think he's an amazing human being. Glad I met him.

Plastic bags: an addiction - end of wk 4...

final week! fresh plastic bags used = 1

well, i've proved that i can do it! Over the past month, i've used 5 new plastic bags which is a hell of a big improvement on the amount i used to use. i'm proud of myself! Now, when i go into a supermarket, i don't feel awkward when i say 'i have my own bag thanks' - i say it with an acquired boldness now. Ok, so my month of setting myself this task is over, but you know what, i'd like to think i've acquired a new change in lifestyle that's here to stay.

Hmm, now what task should i set myself next! :-)

i returned into mySelf...

traced my footsteps
crusty-toed and all

back to a place
situated just left of my breast

back to the sound of my mother cackling
as I told a dirty joke in igbo

beating a rhythm across mother nature's soft-skinned backside,
slapping the words 'live, goddamit' into the souls of the fearful,

teaching presidents

…to write poetry.

(for kelechi...)

Plastic bags: an addiction - end of wk 3...

update: week 3 - fresh plastic bags used = none! Double Yay!

what more can i say?! :-)

Love is... melted cheese on a pea-grape...

Love is... kissed stretch-marks.

Love is... when he farts ...and you smile.

Love is... my nephew when he sleeps.

Love is... oiling her grey dreadlocks.

Love is... watching her hips sway by.

Love is... mangoes that don't bite back.