Reggie's art class and Kuki's speech class and special guest Tisa....
everyime I perform, mera nam, my name, it feels different.
I heard my voice echo today in a different way - -
One by one, everyone came up and spoke the story of their names...
short prose and deep journeys inwards...
A COLLECTIVE NAMING SONG
from my great great grandmother
who loved the smell of lily
it didn't suit me
so I changed it
trying to live up to
water of life
can be miserable
I might as well live with it and enjoy
never scared of anything
as in archangel
I am not the same
runs deep in my family
like the roots of the coconut tree
Today in ASCC,
we explored land and feeling,
textures of living on island,
traces of colonization
The students shared skits in sound, song, story, dance, feeling.
Thanks to the students for such open hearted sharing and Kuki for inviting me to facilitate the creativity writing sessions for the classes...
on the island we smell
freshly baked palo sami from the umu
the breadfruit roasted
and pungent smells of the starkist company…
we see the high tide waves
from the ocean
where the fautasi races start every year in the month April
thinking of colonization in samoa
we smell the smoke from the naval ships coming into the bay
we taste the tears of our ancestors
flowing in the rivers
those fighting to protect and keep our land
oil spilled and
captured by the American government
the guards walking by…
smell the salty ocean…
Every morning I wake to the blue sky
it gives me courage to move on
and then I hear my mother’s voice
get your ass ready for school
eating grandma’s pancakes
which she makes every morning
I get ready, thinking
oh my god I’m going to be late for class
and then the bus passes by
because I was smoking.
A lovely afternoon today with the students at American Samoa Community College
as it rained and rained outside, we wrote….
inspired by “My Name” from the House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros.
– Grateful to Kuki Tuiasosopo, Fine Arts Department Chair who invited me.
-Grateful to the students who wrote straight from their hearts onto the page….
Here are some excerpts:
There is no Samoan name for Emma.
In German, it means strong.
Emma is an old fashioned name.
I have been told this many times when people ask for my name.
Emma is innocent but has a dark side to it.
People in my family said it was named after the first Mormon prophet’s wife who started the church.
Very few Samoa people I have met have this same name as me.
Emma can be intimidating sometimes.
My name is May, named after my Dad’s sister.
Who took me in and cared for me
Many ask if I was named after the month or was I born in May?
But no, I wasn’t.
Sounds short but calm in my ears when I hear it.
No difficulties saying my name just like how I’m not a difficult person to communicate with.
My name is Valovalo
I was named after my biological father.
For years, my biological parents have been divorced.
People usually call me by my middle named, Vincent
When I think about my first name, it's weird…
because I was adopted by my biological mother’s family and till today, I haven’t noticed where my name is from…
When you hear my name, it’s either ice cream or a flavor free sweet desert
Vanilla belongs to my great great grandmother but good thing she was never made fun of…
As for me, growing up, my classmates always called me chocolate or caramel.
After high school I joined the military and all my drill sergeants asked if that’s my stripper name.
And I just smiled and said, if it was, I wouldn’t have joined the service. And they laughed.
Corabelle is a fairytale name. I’ve never met someone who has that same name.
It’s from my auntie’s favorite movies.
There’s no Samoan translation for it.
I am the only one named Cassandra in my family.
…My mom and Dad told me that the meaning of my name is fierce and strong.
Because I posses that attitude.
When I think of my name, I think of the scent of lavender.
Because it’s my favorite color.
Lydia – a name given by my father who loves his mother dearly.
A name also taken after my aunt who is as strong as a bull and clever as a fox.
named after two excellent women so I am honored to carry Lydia.
because it is mine now.
When I think of that name,
I see the purple color, feel the sun, relaxed on utulei beach
eating umu and filled with joy.
In every email that Kuki sends, there is this quote which I second, third, fourth. I mean, in all the ways I can agree with a statement, I agree with this one.
“The arts are a major area of human cognition, one of the ways in which we know bout the world and express our knowledge. Much of what is said in the arts cannot be said in another way. To withhold artistic means of understanding is as much a malpractice as to withhold mathematics… Since schools traditionally develop only linguistic and logical/mathematical skills, they are missing an enormous opportunity to develop the whole child.” ~Dr. Howard Gardner, Harvard Graduate School of Education