I really want to start this blog by saying Ahoy, but I reckon that most of the people around me would sort of want to punch me in the face for that, so I won’t.
So we’ve been at sea for… not that long you know, a week tomorrow – and then a week today we’ll be in Abidijan, in the Ivory Coast, which is our first stop in West Africa.
I’m trying to think what I would want to know if I was reading this blog – what isn’t mundane and what is relevant – I write a lot at the moment, and read constantly too – reading, painting, writing, film, talking, eating, star jumps in my cabin, try to decipher Italian, learning Filipino swear words, looking at the sea – dolphins yesterday, tiny birds, about the third of a size of the seagulls that hover around, and look like they’re hanging on strings, all the different blues and greens and greys and whites of the sea, all the blacks and blues and pinks and oranges and yellows and reds and whites of the sky.
Books are Lose Your Mother by Saidiya Hartman, beautiful but full of grief and pain, and the book that I blame for dreams where I feel like spirits rise up through the bottom of the boat and drag me down to drown (and I remember my first set of fears about the project, that if I felt suicidal it would be too easy, that if something like that happened my mum would have no body) when I close the book, look out over the sea, I find myself trying to imagine it from a thousand other perspectives.
Loyalty by my cousin Shanice, full of the cadences of home, (have I used cadences right there? I’m trying to be fancy but I don’t think it means what I think it means) which I blame for very important dreams about someone trying to deliver my Beyoncé tickets and my Dad sending them.
Changing my mind by Zadie Smith, which feels, to me anyway, like a masterclass in how to write an essay, demands better writing and greater discipline from me – she’s not there in my dreams, rather she wakes me in the morning and demands discipline – not excellence, or even perfection – simply focus and hard work.
All about Love by bell hooks, who whispers dreams to me that happen when I’m awake, my Nan’s eyes flying open when I kissed her before I left, the last time I saw her, the last time I will ever see her, who encourages me to use such solitude as a time to think about where love sits in my life – do I need to move back to Birmingham, what are my dreams, how do I become a better artist, person, collaborator etc.
The Book of the Night Women by Marlon James, like living in a dream – a violent, unplesant dream, but always, leaving that text is a wrench, a tear – though it has me questioning what it is for a narrative of slavery to be consumed in that way – but the more you consume, the less they are held with kids gloves-
Shuttles in the Rocking Loom, telling me the Atlantic is the sourc e of all origin stories, dreams that look like Junglepussy music videos and John Akomfrah films.
And finally, Bloodchild by Octavia Butler, which feels my dreams with hugs that nourish and squeeze and kill and nurture.
Seven books in one week, pushing 35000 words at this point.
This week, I start on a first draft.
I’m hogging the computer, goodbye little loves
Lots of people got in touch following the show to request a reading list of the various…