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Blues In Black And White: A Collection Of Essays, Poetry, And Conversations

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The ever-engaging work of the controversial Afro-German activist/writer, MayAyim, covers a fascinating range of themes: biography, politics, love as well as the absurdities of everyday life. Her unique ability to passionately transformdiverse subject matters into poetic language is revealed in this important collection of translated pieces. Her play with language is effect The ever-engaging work of the controversial Afro-German activist/writer, MayAyim, covers a fascinating range of themes: biography, politics, love as well as the absurdities of everyday life. Her unique ability to passionately transformdiverse subject matters into poetic language is revealed in this important collection of translated pieces. Her play with language is effective and at times transformative, as it expresses and exposes dangerous stereotypes and messages hiddenin the everyday use oflanguage and human behavior. Here, her readers will be surprised and frequentlyconfronted with Ayim's keen and powerful observationsof the complexities of life and the compelling richness of humor and irony within them."These poems [have] passion and irony and always a strong magnetic force...for even her humor, her playing with words and her punch lines never veil the strength of her protest against racism, sexism, and all the other isms that add sadness to our society. In May's voice, I found the echo of other sounds fromthe diaspora. Her unrestrainedness, her humor and lyric expressiveness equal those of Lion-Gontron Damas, one of the fathers of Negritude....An extraordinary voice.Unique and already in the hearts of all of us that are persecuted and fullof thirst." --Maryse Condi, from the introduction to the German edition.


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The ever-engaging work of the controversial Afro-German activist/writer, MayAyim, covers a fascinating range of themes: biography, politics, love as well as the absurdities of everyday life. Her unique ability to passionately transformdiverse subject matters into poetic language is revealed in this important collection of translated pieces. Her play with language is effect The ever-engaging work of the controversial Afro-German activist/writer, MayAyim, covers a fascinating range of themes: biography, politics, love as well as the absurdities of everyday life. Her unique ability to passionately transformdiverse subject matters into poetic language is revealed in this important collection of translated pieces. Her play with language is effective and at times transformative, as it expresses and exposes dangerous stereotypes and messages hiddenin the everyday use oflanguage and human behavior. Here, her readers will be surprised and frequentlyconfronted with Ayim's keen and powerful observationsof the complexities of life and the compelling richness of humor and irony within them."These poems [have] passion and irony and always a strong magnetic force...for even her humor, her playing with words and her punch lines never veil the strength of her protest against racism, sexism, and all the other isms that add sadness to our society. In May's voice, I found the echo of other sounds fromthe diaspora. Her unrestrainedness, her humor and lyric expressiveness equal those of Lion-Gontron Damas, one of the fathers of Negritude....An extraordinary voice.Unique and already in the hearts of all of us that are persecuted and fullof thirst." --Maryse Condi, from the introduction to the German edition.

38 review for Blues In Black And White: A Collection Of Essays, Poetry, And Conversations

  1. 5 out of 5

    B. P. Rinehart

    “i will be African even if you want me to be german and i will be german even if my blackness does not suit you i will go yet another step further to the farthest edge where my sisters – where my brothers stand where o u r FREEDOM begins i will go yet another step further and another step and will return when i want and remain borderless and brazen - “borderless and brazen: a poem against the German ‘u-not y.’” (Translated by May Ayim) One of the great things about poetry is that it can express ideas in a short s “i will be African even if you want me to be german and i will be german even if my blackness does not suit you i will go yet another step further to the farthest edge where my sisters – where my brothers stand where o u r FREEDOM begins i will go yet another step further and another step and will return when i want and remain borderless and brazen - “borderless and brazen: a poem against the German ‘u-not y.’” (Translated by May Ayim) One of the great things about poetry is that it can express ideas in a short space that prose would have to take pages to express. That poem above is basically the first chapter of The Souls of Black Folk (“On Spiritual Strivings”) in just a stanza. This poem is just one in an amazing gem of a book that I was lucky to find. This book is an English-language compilation of poems, essays, and interview by the Afro-German activist and writer May Ayim named after her first collection of poetry published in German (Blues in schwarz weiss). I first heard of her last year after reading an article about her by Tiffany Florvil. After reading this book, it is shocking that such a story of someone so crucial could go unknown. Shocking, but not surprising.i no longer wait for the better times midnight blue sky above us silver stars upon it hand in hand with you along the river trees right and left desire in their branches hope in my heart i straighten up my room i light a candle i paint a poem i no longer kiss my way down your body through your navel into your dreams my love in your mouth your fire in my lap pearls of sweat on my skin i dress myself warmly i paint my lips red i talk to the flowers i no longer listen for a sign from you take out your letters look at your pictures conversation with you till midnight visions between us children smiling at us i open the window wide i tie my shoes tight i get my hat i no longer dream in lonely hours your face into time your shadow is only a cold figure i pack the memories up i blow the candle out i open the door i no longer wait for the better times i go out into the street scent of flowers on my skin umbrella in my hand along the river midnight blue sky above me silver stars upon it trees left and right desire in their branches hope in my heart i love you i wait no longer. – Night SongMay Ayim was born Sylvia Andler on May 3, 1960 in Hamburg to a white German mother and Ghanaian father. She was immediate put up for adoption and went in and out of foster homes (with the main one being the Opitz family). She never had a relationship with her birth mother’s family, but she did reconnect with her father’s family and became especially close to her paternal grandfather (who gets a moving poem in this book). After leaving her adopted family for the last time she went to Berlin and ended-up meeting the woman who would change her life and become the intellectual mentor of Afro-German consciousness, Audre Lorde. Lorde brought her knowledge and experience in the Black Arts & Black Power Movements as well as her experiences in feminism & intersectionality to bare on an entire generation of Afro-German women, Ayim among them. After reading Ayim’s masters’ thesis, Lorde suggested she publish it along with writings from other Afro-German women which culminated in the book Showing Our Colors: Afro-German Women Speak Out. Ayim’s relationship with Lorde, along with her travels abroad, put her in contact with the wider African diaspora both intellectually and literally.soul sister [lament on the death of Audre Lorde] saying goodbye to someone who is already gone forever moments of remembering and lapses of memory remain alive in movement it’s up to us i think and i say my personal truth AUDRE LORDE Lived a healthy oppositional black lesbian life in a sick society on a dying planet she died after 58 years an ordinary death diagnosis: cancer her impact lives on in her works our visions carry the experience of her words memories 1984 black german women together with AUDRE LORDE conceived the term afro-german for we had many names that were not our own for we knew no names by which we wanted to be called racism remains the pale face of a sickness that privately and publicly eats away at us today we mourn the death of a great black poet a sister and friend and comrade in struggle her impact lives on in her works our visions carry the experience of her words 1992 – translated by Tina CamptOne of the big legacies of Ayim was the co-founding of the organization Initiative of Black Germans (ISD) to act as the German NAACP of sorts. The organization helped coordinate her and her comrades’ activism and gave the a platform to speak to the public. She also was very busy writing. The essays in this book do a great job giving the reader a thorough picture of Germany during this time and the history of black people in Germany up-to-that-point. It is clear from May Ayim’s writing that the big event of her generation that galvanized the need for minority groups in Germany to organize was the Reunification of Germany. While I’d been taught that the Reunification was a happy event that brought Germans together, it was clear this was only true for white, Christain Germans. For Germans of African, Turkish, and Jewish descent, Reunification unleashed an avalanche of racism and xenophobia which had been barely held under the surface of both East and West Germany since 1945. Given the news coming out of that country today, to read the accounts, you’d have thought the book was only recently published. It is clear from this book that the Pediga Movement and the AfD were no accidents of the civil war in Syria, but had been in the works for many years.departure what should the last words be fare-well see you again sometime somewhere? what should the last deeds be a last letter a phone call a soft song? what should the last wish be forgive me forget me not I love you? what should the last thought be thank you? thank youThis book sheds light on the historical fact that people of African descent had been a part of German society since at least the Roman times, and would continue to be in the future. I took heart to see how Afro-Germans started to organize themselves and started to help themselves when it became clear the German State would let them be crushed. It was interesting from my Afro-American perspectives to see how Afro-Germans dealt with white supremacy. One of the issues that Ayim deals with in this book is mental health and self-care. These are things that we understand quite well now in a post-Black Lives Matter context, but were only just being studied (by Ayim herself as one of the first) in an Afro-German context. May Ayim was herself a mental health sufferer and she knew that Afro-Germans were treated very poorly by often openly-racist mental-health physicians and workers. Despite this, there was at this time no alternatives for black folks in Germany so when her mental health took a turn for the worst in the beginning of 1996, the white German doctors did not take it seriously (operating under the idea that mixed-race people were naturally unstable) and she eventually died by suicide on August 9, 1996. A blow to black folks as a whole, but the one solace was that the work she left behind has been indispensable to Afro-Germans and anti-racism organizations operating in Germany and central Europe. The fact that I could find this person 21 years after her death without ever setting foot into Germany or even speaking German means something. And as this interview shows: https://www.facebook.com/AudreLordeBe... , young people are still being led by her example. Even the United Nations’ Report of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent on its mission to Germany used the research of her and her peers when in the country. I’m not sure what else I can say to convince anyone outside of Germany to read this, but I felt it worth every bit of my time. It is always good to know you got family somewhere. afterword “alone i would never have found my way here of that i am certain many have accompanied me some have even carried me through love rage and courage i have grown can move around freely show weakness tears laughter can joke around unlearn mistakes ignorance i can recognize and cope with competition and envy not always but more often than not share pain and happiness without all those who loyally stand by me stood by me on my own i would never have made it all the way let alone found my way here to you all to me for critique and patience optimism and trouble for everyone that ever stands by me stood by me a million thanks and a big kiss!” – Translated by Ekpenyong Ani. Appendix: Here are two film trailers and a film excerpt that features May Ayim: Hope in my Heart Trailer -TWN AUDRE LORDE - THE BERLIN YEARS/ TRAILER May Ayim Teil 3 - Last poem recited is Nightsong

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tugce

    Such an important introductory read on Afro-German community in Germany. It is an easy read book but you learn a lot on the history of Black-/Afro Germans. I am glad May Ayim was able to leave her work published in her short-lived life.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Elfont

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Kenny

  5. 5 out of 5

    Greer Jackson

  6. 4 out of 5

    Karina Duncker-hoffmann

  7. 5 out of 5

    K. Glover

  8. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chanté

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

  11. 4 out of 5

    Monica

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rosemarie Pena

  13. 4 out of 5

    Priscilla

  14. 5 out of 5

    John

  15. 5 out of 5

    Wayde Compton

  16. 4 out of 5

    Shawnee

  17. 4 out of 5

    Emerson

  18. 5 out of 5

    Janey

  19. 5 out of 5

    Holly

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rosamund

  21. 4 out of 5

    BookDB

  22. 4 out of 5

    b

  23. 5 out of 5

    Panda

  24. 4 out of 5

    Floietoss

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tifanny Burks

  27. 5 out of 5

    Never Without a Book

  28. 4 out of 5

    Shauna Howard

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nohemi

  30. 4 out of 5

    Damek

  31. 5 out of 5

    Nina

  32. 5 out of 5

    Ann

  33. 4 out of 5

    Aiya ali

  34. 5 out of 5

    Carla

  35. 4 out of 5

    Regit

  36. 5 out of 5

    M

  37. 5 out of 5

    Edie

  38. 4 out of 5

    Christa

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