Abstract

This creative-critical essay is a refracted meditation on the spirit of sound and shadow-work through SA Smythe’s original sound composition and performance activation {spirit  forged} (2023), with accompanying visual documentation. The work was in part a response to Amartey Golding’s Spring 2023 installation, In the comfort of embers, commissioned by the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery in Tkaronto. Smythe reflects on the ecology of thought that laid the foundation for their own transmedia theories and practices, including moments of ancestral whispers, the interplay of light and darkness, sonic alchemy, and abiding reverence for the problematic of Black belonging. Delving into sound and its intimate vessels in a meditation on cultural memory, “Resounding Shadows” revels in liminal fusion of form, inviting the reader to join the traversal of spirit work where personal and collective journeys intertwine.

resound (v): to produce or become filled with sound; to become renowned
Let our rejoicing rise
high as the list’ning skies
let it resound loud as the rolling sea
—James Weldon Johnson, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing”

Across the yawn of ancestry and violence, the long shadows of grief and transformation engendered by the weathers that weather us well beyond our corporeal shells, how do we resound ourselves and Self? Whither the capacity to shore up enough shelter along the seas of our collective spirit when the container of our fleshly form remains insufficient?

The seeds of those questions have gnawed at me, taking root across the network of my life’s work. These seeds got another field in which to flourish when I was invited to produce {spirit   forged}, a soundscape composition and live performance activation for Amartey Golding’s installation, In the comfort of embers. Both installation and performance were curated and programmed by Joséphine Denis, then assistant curator for special projects at the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery in Tkaronto, Canada. What follows is a journey aided by the visual documentation of that work, interwoven with meditations of the memories, elements, and kin that engendered it.

In one beginning, I hear an echo of this memory. There’s me, age seven or eight, craning my neck toward my great uncle’s old Victrola-styled phonograph. A multitoned cabinet of rich, worn wood around my height hulked in the corner of my family’s parlor, filling the room with sounds ranging from dub to rocksteady to calypso to gospel soul, especially on Saturday afternoons. One step . . . beyond! cried Prince Buster on the eponymous B-Side to his 1964 record, Al Capone. It was a sort of proto-ska and sound system number replete with unrestrained horns on the largely instrumental track aside from the reverbed herald of the title shouted over intervals. I can hear the iconic chug-a-chck, chug-a-chck, chug-a-chck that Buster popularized along with other jaunty toasting—a Jamaican iteration of rap, scat, and beatboxing—ring out, a little tinny from the record spinning atop the cabinet. I would always stand near it, hovering on the periphery of the buzzing social life and adult conversation that the space harbored. I’d inch toward the dampening doors until I caught the eye of some auntie or other and was inevitably shooed away, lest I break or spill something. Sometimes I’d go unnoticed enough to peer into the horn, close enough to let my breath fall flatly down into the imperceptible dark of the grill, studying the contraption, curious about what made it churn on its own like that, a small eternity after one of my relatives, usually a man of my grandfather’s generation, stopped winding the arm that usually stood at haughty attention on one side.

One step beyond . . . Soon enough, we’d hear it: the sound of the stylus hitting the run-out area, that space on a vinyl record between the end of the music and the center label. It sounded like wood chips quietly popping in a dancing fire. I called it “dread wax” then, after mishearing “dead wax,” the colloquial description of that strip of material. It evoked for me the gurgling sounds I’d hear from the grill outside, hood propped up against the limestone and elevated on top of cement blocks, scenes of cracked pimiento seeds and other seasons splayed out atop a fresh piece of fish—always under twelve inches long, per tradition—as my Rasta uncle, my mother’s older brother, patiently attended the helm. It seemed magical to me, an arcane and Babylon thing, the way the vinyl would spin and its handle would move independently. How does it do that? I’d wonder, sometimes aloud. Ah jus suh it go, they’d say, a wearisome refrain and an eternally unsatisfying response commonly doled out to we children. Once, I asked an older cousin who was visiting us up in the bush, in a litany of my infamous whys. Muss ah di duppy dem, he enthused, wide-eyed and vexatious. I’d mostly learned not to believe him by then, but still. Duppies?! One never knew what could be haunting a place like this, this town in Cockpit Country, where our first maroons fled into a hard-fought freedom, whose name we yet struggle to pronounce. For a while after that, whenever someone opened the cabinet to turn a record over, I would hold vigil, just in case, until someone came along to lift the needle and return the spirits into their dark silence. I kept a few of my treasures underneath for a time, some shells from the river, fool’s gold, a marble, a palm frond carefully folded into a cross. My first altar, a conspiracy colluding underneath sound with literal ghosts in the machine making mischief and memory. Felled by murder or disease, distanced by the theft of time and the collective sensorium’s divorcement by modernity, there’s no one with whom I might replay the shared memories to see if I got it right. But that’s not the question worth inhabiting. One step beyond! Decades later for the performance of {spirit   forged}, I remain gripped by the echo, seduced by the abeyance of precision.

I posed the question, “How might we resound with deep intention?,” ever obsessed with the questions surrounding who, how, and where we be. To whom we belong and what stories undergird the stakes of those attachments. The verb resound denotes “to sound again” or “to sing the praises of.” Its adjective, resounding, adds dynamic depth, invoking sonic emphasis to convey something unmistakable, indelible, something superlative or otherwise significant. The prefix re- signals a return to some originary place, as well as an undoing or evolution from those once-familiar grounds. The production of {spirit   forged} was thus a resounding experiment, a memory-bound and spirit-forward study in sounding, again and otherwise. The soundscape for the live performance composed a multichannel sound field that I dubbed the “Hearkener’s Nexus.” It utilized the [proclivity] machine that I previously codesigned with Tina Tallon, a creative technologist and sound artist with whom I was able to collaborate and learn from during our year in Italy as individual recipients of the 2021–22 Rome Prize (in Musical Composition and Modern Italian Studies) awarded by the American Academy in Rome. The [proclivity] machine was developed for the world premiere of /proclivity/, a performance commissioned by Black Italian curator and artistic director Johanne Affricot. It was presented in the historic all-Black artist exhibition Sediments: After Memory (2022) for her Black-led curatorial team at Spazio Griot’s first-of-its-kind takeover of the Mattatoio Museum in Rome. Tallon and I used the open-source environment and visual programming language Pure Data, which I have since supplemented with Ableton and Audacity for subsequent digital productions. The physical aspect of the Hearkener’s Nexus included a sound field’s asymmetrical speaker placement throughout the installation, mostly tucked into various corners on the floor and in the shadowy edges toward the ceiling. I further arranged the soundscape and performance space with live instruments (a violin, a theremin, percussive finger bells, syncopated voice and breath work, and ocarinas from my father’s hometown of Puerto Limón).

The base notes of the soundscape were layered from field recordings of found objects and substances, reverberating across the audio channels as though responding to one another’s calls. For the antiphonal rejoinder, I mixed prearranged instrumentation that swelled into improvised interludes. I took turns with the live instruments and a loop pedal that allowed freedom to improvise the order and return of certain sounds and distortions. There was also the fleeting top note of the audience’s intermittent percussion (a clap, a shake of the bell, a throat clearing), enduring witness as we journeyed through the gallery. I solicited impromptu storytelling besides my own; as my echoey prerecorded voice implored, Tell me a story, or asked, Who is your story?, I spent a few moments waiting with an outstretched microphone and a patient gaze. I quickly spliced some of that as the composition’s outro, saving it all for later iterations of the Hearkener’s Nexus, the field of which (spatial, sonic, and otherwise) gets more intricate and entangled with every performance—like interdependent life does the more it is lived.

The ninety-minute score integrated sampled recitations of more stories, arranged into a type of recitative (a récitatif, between song and speech) to my choreographed gestures of sound and shadow-work. The resulting atmosphere felt both overflowing and sparse, responsive and fractal. We bore witness, committed to the possibility of kin beyond ken and in pursuit of the body as a divining rod. It was a joy, a balm to allow ritual and re-memory to serve as collaborative guides through Golding’s transatlantic and transcultural offering, which guided and transformed me in return such that suddenly, we.1 We be the ghosts. We resound the machine.

Ancestrally kinetic, historic, and rooted—which is to say, embodied by the seeded grace of sacred African and Afro-diasporic reworlding practices—this piece sought spirit as the catalyst that has wrought (forged) elemental convergences that have ushered us, a we, forth. Fundamentally, it was a challenge to relinquish any aloof or distanced awareness of public from the Self. To allow myself the healing space of discomposure. I had to work my way through the shadow of the vestibular, as in Hortense Spillers in “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe.” Through the “light beyond metaphor” in Derek Walcott’s “The Sea Is History.” In the marrow of a Black trans nonbinary body nominally mine, I am intimately familiar with the vestibule. Parts of me remain coercively interstitialized as and against the gender line, Black on all sides, beached and shoaled and thus attuned to similarly vast and indeterminate things. In the mediated confluence of performance, I succumbed deeper into the space of the emblematic interstitial: the antechamber to the door of no return, the passage, the score, the Self. Elements and noumena coursing through the space between us required an urgent adjustment, a disorientation imagining that no such space exists. In the spirit of Black traditions like call and response, this performance activation was an opportunity to sound (out) and feel through a presentation of physical and ephemeral Black and trans diasporic memory work and other methods into a conversation (a dwelling, an assembly), into an installation saturated with reflections about history, violence, materiality, the body, masculinity, and domination. Loving possibility and healing emerge in careful relation, adorning our bodies as capacious and atomic instruments. Sounding again to a syncopated grief and history’s ruptured beat, we began counting out a measure of what Ashon Crawley has also hailed as otherwise possibility.2 The apparent chasm between the curlicue brackets of {spirit   forged} is an invitation. A place held. An affirmation that possibility matters, one step beyond. The stories of “our” “own” particles friction “there,” take up room “then.” Of all the forms and versions (selves, mediums, genres, borders) I’ve worked in relation to, sound art–performance has offered the most concentrated tinctures of the possible.

In one beginning, the elements. As his title gestures, the element of fire is a leitmotif throughout Golding’s installation of video, photography, narrative, and conditionally wearable garments. One, Chainmail 3 (Puffer Jacket), is a 166-kilogram structure that the audience can touch and wear; the other is a handcrafted garment held in humanoid shape by a mannequin and featuring hundreds of thousands of strands of human hair designed and maintained in various protective styles. Specifically, Golding hails the embers, those small and usually waning portions of a fire that lingers on. The possible seed for another roaring blaze, always a nod on the verge of creation and destruction.3 In response, I turn to the spirit of water, which holds a similarly infinite dyad. It is an element that heals, purifies, destroys, overwhelms. Fire is in part a thermal and radiant source of energy, producing heat and light. Water also conveys kinetic energy. As the lands across our planet continue to freeze and overheat in extremis, as volcanoes erupt, wildfires and storms rage and seas boil, as the physical uninhabitability spreads toward the ontological one on this earth, as flora and fauna rebel, refuse, and herald the ongoing catastrophe, it is clear we are in medias res to multiple elemental reckonings. They are in turns incalculable, imminent, necessary, and utterly devastating. The majority of us do not need these reminders that we have been asymmetrically bestowed, but we must bear witness nevertheless.

The ecology of the soundscape and activation considers harboring memory the way that water does, considers the fires this time and the next. Waterways abound into every horizon. “The sea is history,” averred Caribbean poet and playwright Derek Walcott in his eponymous poem. “All beginning in water, all ending in water,” muses Dionne Brand in A Map to the Door of No Return.4 Behold these resounding elements, these energetic fountains. Witness with Lucille Clifton’s observation in “the mississippi river runs into the gulf” that “every water is the same water coming round.” There is something seductive in the wry litany, the gentle admonishment in antagonism of Time’s feckless hold as “everyday someone is standing on the edge / of this river, staring into time, / whispering mistakenly: / only here. only now.”5 To have a knowledge about the futility of the experience of finite physical life in tandem with the compulsion to repeat it anyway: written confluently—that is, flowing along the same rivers of realization, or concurrently oriented toward shared ecological and genealogical sense, Alexis Pauline Gumbs urges us in Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals to “trust that all water touches all water everywhere.”6 Healing is as inevitable as the tide, in Golding’s self-descriptions of his work. Stuck on by what C. Riley Snorton marks in “The Gospel of Thon” (alternately known as “Nonbinary Archives and the Grammar of Experience”) as the when of nonbinary experience, I aspire to breathe life into that inevitability: who needs when, when we know that?

In one beginning, always the breath. So be it. Let the expansion and deflation of lungs resound, loud as the rolling sea. After all, we yearn for a respite that is already ours, for freedom by every name, a clearing place to escape the constant nonconsensual noise of organized abandonment, the cacophony of catastrophe. To we. The concept of it in some nondual spiritual traditions is always that the Self, which we imagine as bound/binding in familiar syntax, is always already unfettered. There in the breath, underneath the soft hum of eyelids closed in the comfort of a single ember as the whole flame, a solitary wave as a whole sea. Realize, then, that the ecology of we and the individuated contours of our emotions-thoughts-energies, our sense-selves can readily attune to the heartbeat of this world; moreover, they are a crucial piece of the un-cartographic orientation to the next. You are a part of this cycle, this we in process. We might follow Romain Rolland and acknowledge this assemblage as oceanic feeling.7 Whoever you are now is in deep relation with the eternity of what has always been there. Do you wish someone (past, present, or future) was with you? Take one step beyond. Who says they aren’t?

After a journey through the expanse of the otherwise brightly lit gallery, it begins again. A murmur. A dim corridor. A thick darkness creeps up the installation’s deep, crimson walls such that you feel the need to squint to see the ceiling or into the distance as your eyes search for any small, tangible thing in the void. The darkness is thicker than what your eyes allow. There is something beyond it, you’re sure, as sounds creep around the corner. Crackling, humming, mechanically deepened voices blend their lowest pitches with the pitch of the dark, setting the tone and symbolizing the liminal threshold between the known and the unknown just below the surface of visual perception. In this space of ritual, the audience members instinctively sidle up together and eventually come shoulder to shoulder, looking side to side for where to stand. Soft murmurs continue.

The you in the neophyte we is slowly getting immersed in a rapture of collective making, where boundaries blur and energies converge. Barefoot in a zaffer-colored floor-length hooded robe of crushed velvet, whose hem trails an ocean behind me, I take up a five-count measure and emerge from a gallery vestibule, marking time and people with subtle steps and gestures from my hands wrapped in laced gloves. With the flick of a wrist, the curled stroke of an index finger begins brushing against the air, the wall space in between people, beckoning to cast their gazes deeper into the dark. From beneath the folds of soft fabric come the bronze and gold and silver finger bells. I shake them to the measure I made, and place a few into the hands of those with the most unwavering eye contact, those whose shadow-kissed faces seem like kindred in possibility, for the time being. Some of us will come to lay them at the feet of the Hair Garment, some of us take them home. Drawing back the hood from my head reveals a chain-mail headpiece, links matching the Puffer Jacket suspended in the air within. I gather some of the fabric of my rope and regard the stories of multiple presences sewn into the hem. No one follows. I turn back and hold the same calculating index finger to my lips, the other index finger toward the dark. Susurrations eke out and crescendo from the soundscape echoing into the corridor from the indecipherable fog. Crunching leaves, crackling kindling, urgent talking, and deep-pitched humming that seems to interrupt itself. A shriek of laughter. All gather toward a harmonious chorus. This is the first wave of intermittent repetitive gestures choreographed to mirror and/or precede the the Hearkener’s Nexus, disrupting the temporal order of the traditional call and response. Sometimes the response augurs the call.

We round the corner toward the embers of light that flicker forth from a large installation screen featuring Golding’s three short films. Sonically dowsing the moody flames visualized on screen and mimicked in the soundscape (shaking wax paper like a rug, sprinkling fistfuls of rice grains onto a sheet of aluminum), a rush of ocean water flows on its own cue, frolicking into an irreverent wind, simmering into silence as my uncle’s digitally distorted drawl rises into focus, stretched and slowed right after beginning to share a story, a series of moments in a prerecorded conversation during his childhood in Lowe River and Spanish Town: Suh mi just wan fi seh sum’n bout growing up in Jamaica . . . The story continues, audibly though indiscernibly, as you realize that ears strain to hear the message.

How to resound a sustaining story, relishing the stakes of our magnitude and bond? We have many recipes for the Blackhood, this we of us. The animating force of Gwendolyn Brooks and her South Side, Derek Walcott’s Saint Lucia, my father’s Costa Rica, Glissant’s Caribbean, Golding’s Scotland, my Wales. His Ghana, our Jamaica. Our Xaymaca. The “there” from whence Mahmoud Darwish comes.8 A mango tree tended by mother’s father’s mother, one they say came true and grew as tall as it was because after some relative tossed the pit into the ground, she claimed responsibility to and for it, nurturing it into sweetness until it blessed my generation. Across the ongoing antagonisms of this world as the sociogenic principles bleed (us) into ontogenetic ones, there lies a shadow realm of spirit and its demands. It grabs the edges of our stories with its carnivalesque teeth. We see the shadows. We (think) we are working to access them. We are, as ever, wrought—and distraught—in return.

The freedom in performance includes bringing in collaborators from every realm, especially gestural, spiritual, sonic, and in this instance with the audience members previously hailed to match the frequencies of certain sounds, atmospheric storytelling featuring the clear upturned vocals of dear friend Nalo Hopkinson reading an excerpt of a poem from her father, Slade Hopkinson, “The Madwoman of Papine: Two Cartoons with Captions” conversing through the narrative epigraph of her short story, “A Habit of Waste”:9

These are the latitudes of the ex-colonised,
of degradation still unmollified,
imported managers, styles in art,
second-hand subsistence of the spirit,
the habit of waste,
mayhem committed on the personality,
and everywhere the wrecked or scuttled mind.
Scholars, more brilliant than I could hope to be,
advised that if I valued poetry,
I should eschew all sociology.10

In the beginning, beyond a threshold, circling the duality of light and darkness meets me as I delve deeper into my vestibular role. I enter the space on the other side of the looping video installation—one side awash in dim and shifting concentrations of light as the other is pitched with textured shadows in the dark. Deeper still into shadows at work. Shedding the robe with slow, elongated shrugs to reveal a reflective bronzed body suit, my searching and deliberate movements cast intricate shadows into that space, meeting and merging with other shadows, making more shadows that occasion us to linger over hidden and plural aspects of Self, the transformative power of embracing the shadows within. The veil has been lowered. The chainmail headdress I wore in the corridor was to be relinquished to a waiting busk, clear and glowing perpendicular to the layout. The boundaries between performer and viewer continue to waiver as we witness the hair sculpture together, witness each other witnessing it while my fingers play an invisible piano in the air and I lift my head. The resonance of the experience lingers in the shared space, then (and now, and here). Verbal quietude as a distilled flapping of wings and the crinkling of dried palm leaves soar across one audio channel. Somewhere, in the darkest corner, marimbas and other percussive gourds mirror heartbeats, pulse against one another. A deep, foundational bass vibrates against the walls; your own heartbeat cannot help but match it. These sounds remain for the rest of the performance, and long after, even when other sounds and rhythms ebb and flow. They invite us to witness with and as in the space of invocation of the depths of an inner darkness, where healing and growth intertwine.

All the while, Golding’s three videos continue to play on, with “Bring Me to Heal 1,” featuring a parable that he penned about the Running Horse and the Goose, interspliced with dreamlike scenes of The Being (interpreted by Amartey’s brother and professional ballet dancer, Solomon Golding) wearing the hair garment as flesh and appendages. Nalo Hopkinson’s processed voice returns, processed vocals are doubled up, converted to a deeper pitch, and delayed, reproducing in themselves in resounding chorus. My collaborators included my Caribbean kin (Nalo, Uncle Errol, Amartey, and other Idren), with the ancestral spirits working through and around us in this collaborative atelier of becoming through performance.

{spirit   forged} was as much a collaboration as an accountable sonic relationship to the community of the Self. After all, “I” is as much of a fantastic spiritual fiction as “solo” ever was. Perhaps it is rather one of our most sacred collaborations, obscured by the dispossessive grammars that we have inherited. Those of us enmeshed in the radical density of Black life know this fiction well. Sylvia Wynter tells us that stories are as much a part of what makes us who, what, and when we are. “Human beings are magical,” she says in an essay on the Caribbean rethinking of modernity writ large.11 “Bios and Logos. Words made flesh, muscle and bone animated by hope and desire, belief materialized in deeds, deeds which crystallize our actualities.” Across space-time, Ben Okri agrees, identifying stories as “infinite seeds that we have brought with us through the millennia of walking the dust of the earth.”12

Dreadspeak (also known as Iyraric, a creolized blend of “standard” patois/Jamaican Creole, Amharic, and other liturgical phrases and elements borrowed from English and Ge’ez) refers to “I and I” with a measured reflection of spiritual oneness, a trinity portending spirit and/as/with Self. A soul-level harmony of noumenal and phenomenal possibility—a spiritual collaboration. It makes sense to refuse an over-deterministic attachment to refuse pronouns, belaboring them as particularly relevant, as their import has been outsized and sharpened into weapons in a culture war in defense of something that language could never possess. I (and I) still feel this collaborative weight in the singular they, the pronoun that increasingly drums anti-Black trans antagonists into a frenzy. They diminish we, willing us into oblivion with accusations of ungrammatical being—too right, but for the wrong reasons. They are defenders of the desires to the disimaginative coloniality, which is both unimaginative and disincentivizes imagination. The unmitigated rupture of this proscriptive hegemonic and fearful reality is part of the collaborative referent, that we that keeps ringing out.

I collaborate with Caribbean men telling the parable to one another around a campfire. With The Being who walked in the garment we see, traipsing urgently through London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, at times luxuriating at the threshold of history with the cudgel of their Black androgyny. Their body cast in protective hairstyle communicates the need for protection. We share that need, and we share that shadow, with me approximating touch in different directions, adding texture to the tendrils of hair silhouetted on the haloed spot lit on crimson wall. The lowered pitch of Nalo’s sweet voice reading a condescending character, winds itself around the snippets of my uncle’s mischievous storytelling. Through my arrangement, another narrative emerges, one of gender expanse and aporia.

She was wearing the body I used to have . . .
. . . boyish beauty . . .
So den . . . den yuh no wah him tell mi seh? . . .

The immersive sound channels shift and pace quickens as I traipse from the dark into the brighter space, the audience following closely behind, uncertain that they should. Do we always follow where the spirit leads?

It has been said that I crave certain kinds of structure, with a compunction toward a deluded safety in ordering a disordered world. Yet endings are what I continue to resist, circling them in infinitely smaller orbit. Even now, I linger in the space of that exhibition, the space of every soundscape, performance, classroom, marathon phone call with a confidante across continents, childhood race up a coconut tree. Both Vladmir and Estragon, I struggle to sustain the willful and errant choice to continue, even as the struggle appears increasingly absurd. The melody picks up from the looped violin I laid down earlier throughout the gallery. I reach toward The Being’s garment once more, feet fixed in the Puffer Jacket’s shadow. I still cannot reach it. My wrist goes limp near the floor, hovering above where the shadow of the two garments almost meet. The rest of me crumbles in futility, taking me to an exasperated place that echoes Dionne Brand’s narrator in Land to Light On, who announces “I don’t want no fucking country.” Her litany being the inability to perfect “my own shadow, my violent sorrow, my / individual wrists.”13

Overcome with emotion and memories of alienation and all kinds of quiet despair, I break down under the sweat and the lights, gritting my teeth and collapsing under Golding’s Puffer Jacket (Chainmail 3). As I’m unexpectedly wracked with sobs, the soundscape decomposes with me, frenetic, splitting and achingly soft. Nalo’s voice interrupts in her character’s partial accusation: When it was my body . . . as I sit within the three-shadow nexus of the chainmail; arched back, look upward and to the left (where The Being’s garment is held on a pedestal). {spirit   forged} was not merely a performance but an immersive journey through the tapestry of my own Black trans spirituality, memories, ancestry, and the ethereal and material transformations conjured through imaginative Black and/as trans collaboration. Golding’s In the comfort of embers offered a vessel to a vessel, an experience that transcended the physical and allowed me to excise what lingers in the shadows above and underneath, where shadows danced, identities intertwined, and spirits resounded, and a “we” of witness was transitionally born(e). The spirit we forge in the midst of Black gathering, in commitment to Black testimony, and toward a sustainable horizon of Black belonging, is a spirit that lingers. To speak of Self now, is to speak of the infinite story held on the verge of every future echo that stares back, expectantly, patiently just the same.

Mekatelyu sum’n else . . .

Well then, tell me something, then. Next to a hearth of our own making. We will weave another Hearkener’s Nexus, a field of attunement. I hear in you the echo of a future memory. A story begins again, different this time. Right before you return to yourself, the surrounding sound one last refrain, my uncle’s deep island drawl folds an offering into itself above the higher-pitched gusts of my measured breaths, one step beyond:

Hear mi nuh?

Acknowledgments

I continue to be grateful for the opportunity to witness and respond to the In the comfort of embers installation featuring video, sculpture, photography works by Amartey Golding, curated by Joséphine Denis for the Spring 2023 exhibition at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery in Tkaronto. Thank you to Nalo Hopkinson and Uncle Errol for harmonizing their stories with mine and for resounding home. Thank you to Courtney Desiree Morris and Autumn Knight for their respective kindred and witness as I conceived the performance, sound composition, and choreography for {spirit   forged}. Deep gratitude to the editors of QTR for their patience as I struggled to return to this meditation on spirit and collaboration while reeling from a fresh wave of genocide and other modes of dispossession and to Ashon Crawley for the invitation and years of collaboration into a joyous patchwork of friendship, a delectable we, a blueprint for otherwise possibility.

Notes

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