Saltwater Healing – A Myth Memoir and Poems
By Angelique V. Nixon
By Angelique V. Nixon
Poinciana Paper Press 2013
Launched at Doongalik Studios Art Gallery
3 February 2013 || Nassau, The Bahamas
My first solo book collection of art and poetry is here - Saltwater Healing - published by Poinciana Paper Press! I am thrilled and blessed to share my work in this way – through a beautiful letterpress cover, hand bound, limited edition book – with a small independent Caribbean press. The collection includes a digital full color reproduction of my literary artwork and myth memoir “Saltwater Healing” (18 wooden panels originally featured as an installation in Transforming Spaces 2012 FIBRE at The Hub in Nassau) and 11 of my poems.
The books are $30 each and available through Poinciana Paper Press and at Doongalik Studios in Nassau. Copies will also be available soon at other local bookstores and art galleries. I also have copies. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. You can also contact the press directly - please visit PoincianaPaper Press or email Sonia Farmer at email@example.com. I am also hoping to organize a New York launch sometime this spring. I will share more info once it falls into place!
We had a really successful launch on Sunday and sold quite a few books! I want to express my deep gratitude for such a successful and powerful event on Sunday – giving thanks to everyone who came to support, those who bought books, and those who were there in spirit. And I want to thank each and every person who made the launch possible, especially:
· Sonia Farmer, editor and founder of Poinciana Paper Press, for believing in this project and working tirelessly to make it happen
· Pamela and Orchid Burnside for hosting the event at Doongalik Studios
· Marion Bethel, for her most brilliant introduction of me and my work
· Book Making & Binding Volunteers: Orchid Burnside, John Thompson, Storm Strand, Zoe Tsavoussis, Charmaine Gibson, and Kat Jackson
· Margot Bethel for documenting the event and for collaborating with Sonia on the cover design and printing
· Erin Greene, Tina Johnson, Tania Nixon, and Vanessa Eneas for delicious refreshments at the launch and Mendoza Imports for pink champagne!
Also many thanks to The Nassau Guardian, ARC Magazine, Bahamas Arts & Culture Newsletter, Repeating Islands, and The Tribune for featuring the launch and promoting my book, as well as ArtOvation with TaDa on Star 106.5FM for having me on her show to talk about my book!
Here are a few photos of the book making and binding process. For more photos and details into the book making process, check out this link for Sonia Farmer's post on Poinciana Paper Press's blog. And also check out ARC Magazine's lovely re-mix of Sonia's piece. Thanks Holly!
I arrived just in time on Friday afternoon to work on the prep for binding (poking holes) and to install the artwork at Doongalik Studios.
|Sonia, Orchid and I - after working all afternoon on Friday before the launch, and me holding the first completed book!!! In front of the installation of my Saltwater Healing Panels - spread out over two walls.|
|Remix of my Saltwater Healing Installation|
|Remix of my Saltwater Healing Installation|
And on Saturday, we did the final part - the sewing and binding of the books!
|Excited that I got to bind my books!|
|The final stretch!|
|The space! Ready for the big day!|
|with Sonia and Marion at the launch, before the reading|
The official launch day was beautiful, and I felt incredibly lifted by all the positive energy beaming from the crowd of 50 or so people who came together for this celebration – supporting not only my work but also Poinciana Paper Press! I had the great opportunity to reimagine the display of my pieces while I worked with Pam Burnside to install the panels in the gallery space on Friday before the launch. The remix turned out to be a great new way of experiencing the Saltwater Healing panels and I got lots of positive feedback!
Many people I knew in the crowd, some of my dearest loved ones and family, others with common interests and circles, and some I met for the first time. Sitting in this gorgeous, sun-filled room at Doongalik, I felt so honored as we started the event and Sonia Farmer welcomed us and brought up Marion Bethel, who introduced me. I am still in awe of Marion’s brilliant reflection and introduction! I had to hold back the tears as I listened intently to her powerful description of my work. I am overjoyed that she was able to be a part of this special day. (Thank you Marion!) After Marion’s stirring introduction, I gave a reading of a few select pieces from the book – started with the myth memoir and wrapped up with a few poems. I chose pieces that I thought would reflect the book as a whole but not give to much away – wanting to encourage folks to buy the book! I also made some choices based on audience, but at the same time, wanting to stay true to my work, which is all about breaking silences. I took some risks and shared poems that are hard for me - all the messiness we suppress too often - domestic violence, disease, and poverty. I wanted to read these poems because of these silences.
|Marion introducing me!|
|Ready for the reading!|
However, I feel in retrospect that I was too silent about certain things – like stating clearly why I identify as Black - as a mixed race woman - and why my late maternal grandmother Mabel Sistella Charles is so central to my story and the collection (hence why the book is dedicated to her). I believe all these things are very clear in the book (and Marion affirmed these points in her introduction as well), but I didn’t make it very clear during my reading. Perhaps I did this because I have voiced this in public at home in various settings from radio shows and lectures to readings and newspaper articles. Or perhaps I wanted to leave it up to the reader/audience.
|Close up of Saltwater Healing|
|Close up of Saltwater Healing|
I didn’t read certain pieces where these issues come up in my poetry and myth memoir. Mostly because I didn’t want to upset my paternal grandmother – Viola Nixon – who came to my event and who was also a big part of my life growing up. Since the "Gramma" in my book is not her, I kept censoring myself and said less than I had planned. Instead of facing up to and explaining my choices, I was silent once again – even as my creative work literally and figuratively calls for us to be “silent no more.” I could have explained more, and after the event, I started to feel like I missed this important opportunity to speak up and out. But then I realized I'm comfortable in my skin and how I identify - so much so that I no longer feel the need to explain this, even to people who don’t know me or my story. I am so rooted in my self, my identity, and my connection to ancestors and spirit that I no longer have to say it quite so much. It is who I am. Nevertheless, I’ve been agonizing over my reading and what I didn’t say or what I left out. I am reminded that there are spaces and places I still must tell and in this case re-tell again and again. I feel that I’m working through other silences, another part of my story. Perhaps my next project...
|Here I am with my paternal grandmother - Viola Nixon|
To do that, I have to admit a few things and release them – like discomfort with my paternal family, and that I don't want to talk about my paternal family and those particular dynamics that also gave rise to me. I have touched upon them in my work here and there, but for the most part I avoid it. These dynamics are as equally complex as my maternal side, and in some ways even more so - with Chinese mixed race whiteness, denial of Blackness, outside children, and troubling stories of domestic violence and sexual trauma – stories I haven’t fully started writing about yet. I have made the deliberate and strategic choice to focus on my maternal line in much of my work because of Spirit and Ancestors who speak to me and through me. My maternal side forged in me a sense of survival (through genetic memory and spirit calling) that has made me the person I am today. But my paternal side made me too – and at some point, I believe I will be ready to share this truth. For now though, it feels too hard. But I am closer to telling that story.
And so I will say here what I wanted to say on Sunday - which is acknowledge both my maternal and paternal grandmothers as a vital part of my life, but that this particular project is about the one who is in the spirit world - the one who has been my creative muse for many years - Mabel Sistella Charles. And so it's her story because her story creates me - this drives my poetic voice. And it's her story because there are so few spaces to tell her story (as a Black Bahamian woman, single mother, domestic worker, raised in Inagua and through struggle) that I feel it's my responsibility to speak it loud. Her passing when I was so young (at 18) has affected more than I can ever explain (and then loosing my mother just a year after that at 19). These moments have marked me forever. And somehow in spirit we remain close and in communication. I know that I have to tell my gramma's story and explain this - even when it's the most painful and uncomfortable. More lessons - grateful.
I am releasing all the stuff I didn't say - letting it go and saying it here - knowing that there will be more time, more readings and events. And so it is - Saltwater Healing is born! It is my story of healing and difficult childhood memories told through the Bahamian land/seascape. It is a collection of poetry and art that speaks troubled herstories and affirms the imagination as our place for healing and recreation/affirmation of self. It took me years to get here to tell this story – and for that I am so thankful for all who bear witness and can hear me – even when its hard.
I give thanks to all my friends, loved ones, and mentors who have been witness to my poetry and writing – especially Marion Bethel and Asha Rahming (my sheroes), my chosen family (sisters Vanessa Eneas, Bianca Zaiem, and Jheaneale Bahadosingh), my Florida family (Eduardo, Susi, Carlos, Alexia), my cousin Nabila Darville, my stepmother Lynn Darville, and my closest friends and comrades in the struggle, my community! – you know who you are – so grateful and blessed to have each of you in my life! Thank you for always believing in me and supporting me through this journey.
|My sisters - Vanessa and Jheaneale|
|My dearest friends Erin and Tina and my cousin Nabila|
|with family - my cousin Nabila, |
grandmother Viola, and aunt Kay
|with Tania - my aunt, my sister!|
|My niece Penelope :)|
|Family - Tania, Jheaneale, Vanessa|
|Refreshments and Mingle time!|
|Margot, Stan, Orchid|
|Jay, Jan, Ali|
|Tina, Orchid, Pam|
|with Stan and Alana|
|Another shot of Mingle Time!|
|with Orchid and Kareem|
|Sonia and I take a moment to smile and exhale!|
|with Pam Burnside|
|with Gio and Stephen|
Such a beautiful day and celebration! Spirit Filled Blessings and Love!
More musings, soon come, on conscious vibration!
|To get a copy of my book, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org,|
or visit Poinciana Paper Press and
email Sonia Farmer at email@example.com.