I remember the rejection well.
I wore it personally. It's so easy to feed the undertone of unworthiness, of not being enough. I kept it quiet, didn’t tell anyone, apart from my mother of course.
It is her story after all.
On the 27th September it came back as successful. A grant from the Arts Council, so to bring Singing My Mother’s Song into being.
This journey started as a whisper, a quiet mouth that kept asking questions. Over the years it became a coherent and clear voice, that would keep getting louder. Now it is a song, sprung from a yearning to fill in the missing parts.
To understand my mother’s story.
It is something that goes beyond memory and imagination. It moves into the experiential and real. It’s a chance to shed light, to change the direction of a past.
With thanks to The Arts Council England, this journey will see me create a new collection of poetry. Writing which will explore family lineage, diaspora and the feminine. It will be a cross medium project. Writers, dancers, illustrators and filmmakers, from South Africa and the U.K, will unite.
My Mother's siblings have memories linked to South Africa. Their grandfather (my great-grandfather) came from there. My mother has no memories though.
Age 7 she and her siblings went into an orphanage where she lived for the next 6 years. There was an inconsistent relationship with her father. It only lasted a few years. She never saw her mother again.
Stories and a hand-down connection to South Africa stopped with this loss. The loss of family connection. Sometimes I think this project is being guided by my future daughter. I sense her clearing the way before her own birth.