dbi.young anitafrika

d’bi.young anitafrika at Les Bobards with Kalmunity. 

poetically, to d’bi.young anitafrika

I cannot promise to love you fearlessly, I cannot.  But I can love you courageously.” – d’bi.Young anitafrika

Has there ever been such a love in the world as radical, as powerful, as storytelling, as songful, as courageous as the love found d’bi.Young anitafrika’s poetry?  I have not seen such a love, heard it, felt it surging like an ancient river over my young skin, have not tasted its glorious sweetness on this fledgling tongue – yet.  If you were to ask me who could inspire this love in me, create it with me, then I would have to say that I have not yet met any person – yet— in my life who has known how to love in this way.   I would have to say that in this world where my ancestors were exploited and enslaved, where the womanness hiding in my boy-self was caged for so long she nearly starved and died, where by the time I was seventeen I could no longer count the number of my childhood friends who had been raped, I have never seen such a love.

But I believe in it.

Because poetry is not separate from the world.  It is, as Audre Lorde once said, “not a luxury”.  Poetry – true poetry, strong poetry, revolutionary poetry – is drawn from the words of the elders that still whisper inside our bones.  It tells us who we were, who we are, what we are capable of being.  It is because there is consensual, courageous, radical love in young’s words that I must believe that it can exist – in this life, in my partners, in my communities, in myself. 

“Do you know what it means to have a revolution?  And do you know what it means to find a solution?”

d’bi.Young anitafrika,  is most often described in official artist bios as “an afrikan-jamaican-canadian dubpoet, monodramatist and educator. born and raised in kingston jamaica till 15 years old, she spent an additional 15 years in and outside of canada. she first exploded onto the canadian theatre scene in 2001 as stacyanne, a young girl survivor of incest, in trey anthony’s da kink in my hair” (From Young’s artist website).  Young is now known internationally as an innovator, performer, and artistic dynamo whose words are prising open the bars of gendered and racial oppression and giving flight to the stories of people who have lived so long in the dark.

“we nuh care weh yuh cum from 
it’s a new dawning 
tell di people of di world 
revolushun’s rising “

I first listened to d’bi.Young perform as a young teenager at home, in my basement, on YouTube.   Huddled there in the dark of my family’s home in an immigrant neighbourhood of Vancouver’s East Side, girl-self crouched somewhere deep in the unspoken depths of my wretched, yellow boy’s body, I watched and listened, and listened and watched, and felt something in me shake to its core.  There, on the screen, was a colored body moving, speaking, singing her pain, her history, her anger, her strength.  There, on the screen, was the answer to my own despair, desire, prayers, rage.  I had once thought such words could only exist in my mind, barely known to even myself.   I had once thought that the stories I knew could only live in silence.   That the love I dreamed of could never know the world.

“we value our blood

so we don’t shed each other’s

this is the change we want to see

this is the change we be”

This is how it begins.  One by one, we set each other free, using the spark of our stories to set the tinder hearts of our people aflame. Burning, burning, love and revolution. Not fearlessly, no. But courageously


By Kai Cheng Thom

Ryan Kai Cheng Thom

Kai Cheng Thom will perform and open for d’bi young at the concert on the 8th november.

Kai Cheng Thom is a queer Chinese performance artist and writer whose work explores the power of memory and storytelling to reclaim the body. They have performed at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, Radical Queer Semaine, and many other venues across Canada. Contact them at memoirsofagaysian@mcgilldaily.com

1 year ago
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