A month from today I will, hopefully, be basking in the nautical glory that is the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, finding kin amongst the many who, like me, are obsessed with the beauty and mystery of the mermaid.
Perhaps the literary incarnations of the mermaid, namely The Little Mermaid, have attributed the mermaid to the potential for transformation. The ability to slip from fins to feet; remain in the liminal space between world and sea; provoke both fear and intrigue. There is something slippery about the mermaid, in more ways than one; something that suggests a kind of edginess, relativity, potency, sublimity. It’s something I think about often, and have thought about since childhood, yet find difficult to define. There is something about the mermaid that is almost brutally beautiful, and as such, demanding of a kind of… renegotiation of what one takes at face value.
I have been learning how to face life, and do so without fear, and indeed with desire. I have been in the mode of transformation recently, and for the first time in over a year; I feel myself wanting to make positive life changes — mentally, physically, spiritually — and I feel this compulsively, urgently; not to fill any standard outside of myself, but to create a world where what I know I am capable of becomes the world I inhabit… one of capability, possibility, enchantment. I never want to lose a sense of enchantment, or see anyone lose such a sense for that matter. Each day I find myself choosing life more and more, if that makes sense. I am always aware of the dark, but choose light when I can (which is, usually, always).
And I found out that my efforts have been rewarded; choosing life has inevitably led not only to feeling healthier and happier, but more excited about all the possibilities life has in store during our stay here on earth. I put together the manusript for my second poetry book, after many months where creative writing felt impossible. I won a scholarship to take an online course with a Yale prof-turned-intuitive whose friendship I’ve truly cherished over the years, and whose mentorship couldn’t have come at a better time. I also found out that I was awarded full room and board for a unique conference where I will also have the chance to work alongside the prolific poet Sonia Sanchez. I am still processing this fact…!
I will be doing my best to post more regularly these days. After spending the last couple of months navigating the world of blogs, I can see how and why sharing positive thoughts, random ideas, mindful photos, and other inspiring things can promote good feelings for all involved. I want this to be a shared space. I plan to share some poetry, too, and would love feedback. Just please forgive me in advance if the mermaid thing takes over sometimes. I believe mermaids are real. Apparently, there’s even a way I can manage being a mermaid myself, while at school. I’ll let you know how that goes, too.
Adebe DeRango-Adem is a writer whose work has been published in sources such as The Claremont Review, CV2, the Toronto Star, Room Magazine, Cosmonauts Avenue and Jacket2 (forthcoming). She is a former attendee of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics (Naropa University), where she mentored with poets Anne Waldman and Amiri Baraka. Her debut book of poems, Ex Nihilo (Frontenac House, 2010) is a text that considers how art can respond to the annihilation of particular identities struggling to exist in an impossibly post-racial world. In the same year of its publication, Ex Nihilo became a finalist for the Dylan Thomas Prize, the world’s largest prize for writers under thirty. Adebe DeRango-Adem is also the editor, with Andrea Thompson, of Other Tongues: Mixed-Race Women Speak Out (Inanna Publications, 2010), an anthology of art & writing that explores the question of how mixed-race women in North America identify in the twenty-first century. Her most recent poetry collection, Terra Incognita (Inanna Publications, 2015), creatively explores various racial discourses and interracial crossings both buried in the grand narratives of history and the everyday experiences of being mixed-race. Poems from the collection were longlisted for the 2016 Cosmonauts Avenue Poetry Prize, judged by award-winning poet Claudia Rankine. Terra Incognita was also nominated for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award. Adebe was called a “young writer to watch” in 2016 by Canada’s Parliamentary Poet Laureate, George Elliott Clarke, on behalf of the CBC. Her newest poetry collection, The Unmooring, was published in 2018 by Mansfield Press. A poem from the collection was featured in the 2019 Poem-In-Your-Pocket anthology, co-created by the League of Canadian Poets and the Academy of American Poets. She served as the 2019-20 Barbara Smith Writer-in-Residence with Twelve Literary Arts, in Cleveland, Ohio.