SARAH NWAFOR They/Them
Sarah Nnenna Loveth Nwafor (They/Them) is a queer Igbo-American Poet, Educator, and Facilitator who descends of a powerful ancestry. They believe that storytelling is magick, and they speak to practice traditions of Igbo orature. When they witness, their forebears are pleased. Sarah has been writing for a minute and is learning something new about their voice each year, but one thing they’re proud to share is that they have a chapbook forthcoming with Game Over Books! When Sarah's not writing; they’re probably sitting under a tree, reading about Love, dancing with friends or cooking a bomb-ass meal like the true Taurus they are.
Arist StatementI believe that art, at its best, is a conduit for healing.
In the reclamation of my ancestral Igbo spiritual practice, Odinala, there is an understanding that we contain many selves. In our worldview, these selves have lived lifetimes and have been reborn as the “you” of the present for one purpose; to embody your soul’s intention. Unfortunately, through systemic injustice, societal conditioning, inherited dysfunctional family systems (all forms of trauma) we forget our soul’s intention, and take a part of divinity out of the world. Art-healing puts our divine-selves back in the world. When we tend to our hearts, we begin to be in connection with the multitude of selves contained within; from this multitude, infinite creation is possible. When we understand that our wisdom is unique and interconnected, we release the fears which keep us from sharing it with the world; healing is a creative process. Healing gives us permission to live and create authentically. Because the nature of my art ties back to personal and interpersonal growth and connection, I draw on the lineages of wisdom which have held me in my art-healing work; my studies and embodied knowledge of Black feminism, my studies of Igbo cosmology, my research of social psychology, and my readings of Black writers. All this knowledge follows me into my creative practice, as I use creation to cultivate divine interconnection.
Project Description:I envision this project as having four components; 1.) Reading and discussing the book “What My Mother and I Don't Talk About,” with a cohort of Black queer and trans people. 2.) Creating a zine of personal essays, short stories, poems, and visual art answering the prompt: “What is it you and your mother don’t talk about, but wish you did?”. 3.) Creating a group visual art piece using materials from a healing session, and 4.) A showcase event to share this project with the larger community.This event would include sharing the zine, having cohort members read/present some of their work, showcase the art-creation, a short introduction into the work we’ve been doing, and a Q&A with the community.
For the first component of this project, I will facilitate a series of generative creative, healing workshop for a small cohort of 5-8 Black queer/trans (Q/T) people. In this space we will discuss the book “What My Mother and I Don't Talk About,” along with supplementary sources I will provide. I will also provide generative writing and visual prompts related to our discussions of this book. The purpose of this component is to get the cohort thinking about mother-wound trauma more deeply, relate it to a larger cis-christian-hetero-patriarchal context, build connection as a cohort, and to start generating art related to this subject.
For the second component of this project, cohort members will contribute to a zine answering the prompt: “What is it you and your mother don’t talk about, but wish you did?” It is important to answer this prompt, inspired by the book “What My Mother and I Don't Talk About,” in our own words as Black Q/T people, because our voices are sorely missing from this subject; putting mothering and nurturance within a context of oppressive power structures changes our relationship to the subject. We will also put out an open call to the Boston community for 5-10 Q/T Black creatives to respond to this prompt and be included in this zine. Cohort members and I will decide which works will be included in the zine.
For the third component of this project, one of the healing spaces I will be facilitating for the cohort will be a somatic experience of releasing grief around mother-wound trauma. This experience will include smashing plates (in a safe space) as release. We will utilize the plate pieces to put together a new visual display representing what we want nurturance to look like going forward.
The fourth component will be a showcase of our work.Here we will invite the larger QTBIPOC community of Boston into the work we’ve done, offer context around mother-wound trauma, spark dialogue, showcase this artistic work, and give away our zine. It will be a night of warmth and community connection.
My work focuses on Black queer and trans people age 18-30. My project would resonate with this community in Boston because mother-wound trauma impacts our relationship to community care. Many Black queer and trans folks in Boston are trying to create networks of community care and accountability for the sake of survival, but our relationship to “mothering,” or the nurturance received in our formative years, affects this. Mother-wound trauma impacts all aspects of our relationships; our sense of self-value, our ability to receive, our level of codependency, our ability to engage in transformative conflict, our relationship to trust, etc. Toni Morrison said that carrying an untold story inside of you is a great agony; we have a lot of folks in our community in pain. We live in a society which gaslights and dismisses survivors of mother-wound trauma because of white-hetero-patriarchal mythologies of motherhood, and so these stories go untold. As someone who is a part of this community that I create for, I have seen first hand the ways that some of the issues I mentioned, codependency in particular, run rampant. To be clear: these issues are by no means unique to Black queer and trans folks. However, our marginalized identities often mean that this wound around nurturance is pushed to the margins of the margins of discussion for Black queer and trans people. There are few resources to unpack the ways our specific positionalities within overlapping systems of oppression affect our relationship to our mothers, receiving nurturance, nurturing ourselves, and therefore being in relationship to each other. We cannot create networks of survival and community care, without discussing how some of our formative examples of care were harmful; without discussing what care should’ve looked like, and therefore can look like within this community. This project is providing necessary healing space for Black queer and trans people in this matter. I hope it will spark community conversation about the ways we need to reparent ourselves and how we choose to cultivate chosen family, and engage in our networks as Black queer and trans creators and community organizers.