Thursday, 7 May 2009

About me

Obviously the (authorised) photo you find here is not me.  It is made by Ricardo Read, a Dominican photographer.

I choose to call myself Amapola to make reference to my Dominican origins.   Amapola trees (Erythrina poeppigia)  blossom in May, giving a bright orangy red tint to the countryside fields.  But there is also another type of Amapola, which is a fragile flower also found in tropical meadows and belonging to the Eschscholzia family.  Commonly known as 'poppies' they vary in colour and are found in different parts of the world (including non-tropical areas).

Poppies by Amapola Blooming
That there are two flowers with the same name and very distinctive characteristics is a metaphor of my multicultural life:  In essence I feel like a robust Amapola tree, but in daily life I am a colourful fragile poppy that longs for deepest roots.  As an immigrant in the Netherlands the reality of multiple identities and languages is inescapable - it can be enriching as well as destabilising and forces me to constantly revise who I am through my creative expression.

I am an open soul who dreams to be an inspiration to others in every aspect of my life.  Writing is another humble attempt towards achieving that.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Me and my hummingbird

If the lines I shall write speak to no-one I shall declare myself a dead poet, an abortion of my own voice, as I struggle with giving birth to the sadness and joys that have long lived in full-mouth pregnancy since I was just a child that started to learn how to spell the words I did not know how to pronounce well as yet.

Back then my voice was in Spanish, my mother voice. And ever since I learned how to draw the symbols rolled in the swollen papyrus of my tongue, my passion for wordplay made of them my imaginary friends. As a child, I read more than what my hand could express  in writing and very soon my imagination started to sketch stories that I soon attempted to put on paper.

I was only 8 years old and I was spending the summer at my grandmother’s in a small Dominican town. That was the age of certainty, the age in which I discovered that one day, I would like to have a book of my own for others to read with joy and amazement. That was when I wrote my first story: it was about a hummingbird that came to sing by my window so I could rescue her from death. Her nest had fell along with the leaves of an undressing autumn and in fear of an imminent winter, seasons that I only knew in the foreign books I read back then, she asked me for help.

Thirty-one autumns and winters later and after several attempts to accomplish my dream and publish some poetry during my college years, I fell into a hollow language. My voice now shifts between English, Dutch and Spanish, result of an impulsive decision to live abroad when I was twenty-five and I moved to the Netherlands.

Today, I feel incapable to choose which language would be the strongest and most perpetual: which one would give shape to my voice? Which one will not only be read and listened to with the heart but will be held strongly as a waving flag of expression for those who choose my words to free their own minds and feelings?

I feel that losing touch with my own language and leaving behind the first blossoms of my literary career, made me fall into the trap of forgetting that it could have been an attainable dream if only I kept it alive.

Tonight, like other moments, I feel the dream awakening, telling me again that there is nothing I want more in my life than to inspire you and make my voice resonate in those empty spaces that you seek to fill up with organic, universal meanings that once poured out in my words, will flow in your consciousness and unconsciousness as your own blood and oxygen mix with mine, regardless of language and vocabulary.

I want to write because I want to reach you and touch you in places that neither you nor I ever knew existed. I want to write because there is so much I have wanted to tell you, but have failed to disclose in these silent years. I want to write because I have let many stories cross my path, as I waved to them in resignation feeling afraid of attempting to bring my agonizing hummingbird back to life again.

It is a painful struggle to try to regain the power of the ever possible, which I felt so strongly when I was eight years old. Now I am reaching forty and I don’t know whether fighting or surrendering will give me the strength and freedom that I need to live and fully revive my childhood dream.

I implore to the universe for a sign as I close my eyes and try to let go of my fear and my confusion. My fingers touch the keyboard, wishing it would bring me to play the notes that once made my voice sing like that hummingbird that desperately wanted a life beyond a winter she could not escape.

In my childhood story, the hummingbird lived because I invited her into my grandmother’s house and I fed her and gave her shelter and we had long conversations in a language only we could speak. Time passed and on an early-spring day I opened the window so she could fly in unconditional freedom, kiss the blossoming flowers and build her nest again.

Today I miss her, more than anything.