Words without Borders; The Home of International Literature

Words without Borders; The Home of International Literature
Check out an interview with Rwandan Writer Scholastique Mukasonga

Friday, August 18, 2023

Nzuri Journal - Furaha; Cote d'Ivoire

    I am working on a series of poems about my friends and friendships. I have put a few of these out into the world.  I recently learned that this poem- Furaha; Cote d'Ivoire, was published this past May.  Please hit the link to read and revel in the joys of friendships!

Nzuri Journal

#nzurijournal #poetry #blackpoetry #africanpoetry #coted'ivoire #friendships

Friday, August 11, 2023

Justin Ngoga Makes Travel and Relocation to Rwanda a Breeze

  I finally made my trip to Rwanda this summer and I could not have made this journey with confidence if I had not used the services and skills of Justin Ngoga. As a middle-age woman, the idea of traveling from my hometown of Philadelphia all the way to this lovely, East African country seemed a bit daunting. 

30th Street Amtrak Station-Philadelphia

   But someone recommended the services of Justin Ngoga, founder and director of Impact Route. Justin, based in Kigali, Rwanda, is a trained and licensed cross-cultural professional and he and his team offer a variety of services from meeting with you online, prior to your departure, answering all of your questions and concerns to preparing a plan to make your arrival and stay in Rwanda an enjoyable one. Equally important, they share Rwandan customs and social norms, which are very helpful to know. 

Justin Ngoga in conversation with Sojo and Mentha, a 
client he helped to relocate to Rwanda.

  Justin and his team offer a wide array of services, from pre-departure, online meetings, to Kinyarwanda language lessons, to airport pickup/drop-off, driving services, to aiding you in securing local phone service and exchanging money, to city tours, museum tours and so on. Whatever your travel needs are and whatever is needed to make your stay in Rwanda a truly meaningful one, Justin and his team are there to guide and support you.  Did I mention guided trips to the spectacular local markets to local fabric vendors and dressmakers?   

Justin escorting us to the Kimironko Market; one of the busiest markets in Kigali!

Kimironko Market-look at the variety of beautiful beans.

Me with fabric vendor-Patrice-in the market.

Sojo and I at the Liberation Day Night Run in Kigali 

The best dressmaker in Kigali- Beautiful Rousse

Justin escorted us to the Genocide Memorial Center.
Needless to say it was a profoundly emotional experience. 

Sojourner reading the names of the genocide
victims interred at this site. Justin's commentary
and insight were invaluable.

 Justin has become like family. There is a bond that is created when someone guides you through their country, especially one that has suffered a horrific event like a genocide.  Justin showed us a young, vibrant, gorgeous Rwanda positioned for a great future.

       The end of our stay was topped off with a traditional, delicious Rwandan meal Justin and his wife served us in their beautiful home, with their beautiful children. 

  Going to Rwanda?  Use the services of Justin Ngoga. You will not be disappointed. Below are links to his website and links to order or download his books for free.

1. Link to Justin's website- Relocation Buddy in Rwanda

2. Book- Rwanda Cultural Awareness

3. Moving to Rwanda Guide Book

4. Kinyarwanda Travelers' Phrase Book

#rwandatravel #rwandantravel #africantravel #africancontinent #rwanda #visitrwanda #genocidememorials #neverforget

Sojo and I with Justin's lovely wife and children in
their home, where they prepared us a 
delicious , traditional Rwanda meal. 

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Black Star Film Festival 2023 Was Amazing

Sojo, Phyllis, Camille and I had at a blast at this year’s BlackStar Film Festival. Thank you to the BlackStar team for organizing another stellar event! See you folks next year.  Here is a link to the names of the films presented this year. Be on the lookout for many of them being shown on various streaming services.

Camille Bounds and Octavia McBride-Ahebee Stepping out to enjoy the
incredible line-up of films presented in the BlackStar Film Festival. 

The fabulous BlackStar Team dedicated to presenting the best films of Black, 
Brown and Indigenous Filmmakers and Media Artists. photo-BlackStar

Going to Mars; The Nikki Giovanni Project/ Directors Michele Stephenson & Joe Brewster. Shoutout to Louis Massiah and Yolanda Wisher who each moderated a stellar Q&A session with directors. You have another opportunity to see this film on Sunday..

You know folks got their party on! photo-BlackStar

Below are some of the films and panel discussions I attended.

Team Dream , directed by Luchina Fisher, has me already making plans to get back in the pool. This short documentary “explores the complicated history of Black Americans’ relationship to swimming through a pair of extraordinary athletes in the golden years.”

MnM , a documentary by Twiggy Puccini Garçon, showcases “in a joyful and liberating way two nonbinary chosen sisters in the ballroom community.”  The featured stars- Mermaid Garçon and Milan Garçon - were in attendance at today’s screening. See  Camille in photo with them.  Let me say too, BlackStar  audience members are slaying in their couture!!!!.

See you next year at the BlackStar Film Festival.

#blackfilmfestivals #blackfilmmakers #blackfun #blackjoy #nikkigiovanni #teamdream #filmfestivals #visitphiladelphia #philadelphia 

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Mural Arts Annual Wall Ball 2023

Mural Arts Annual Wall Ball 2023 - celebrating murals in our community tonight with mayoral candidate Helen Gym, Cathy Harris of Mural Arts,

Laurel Raczka of the Painted Bride Art Center, Percussionist/playwright extraordinaire Karen Smith and so many other great folks!

Don't forget to find and see the mural featuring the poem my daughter and I composed and see the stunning artwork of Priscilla Bell, Sheena Garcia, Wanda Payne and Pauline Houston McCall.
Fresh Grocer Market, on Market St., between

56th and 57th Streets; facing the EL.


Saturday, March 18, 2023

One of My Students Made it to the Regional Round of the Scripps Spelling Bee

Had an amazing time at the regional Scripps Spelling Bee this morning.  It was hosted by WHYY-Billy Penn. I think I was more nervous than the kids, who were absolutely tremendous. My student, a 3rd grader, one of the youngest  competitors, lasted 5 rounds. I am so proud of him.

Here I am with WHYY's on-air host and  reporter Avi Wolfman-Arent, who served as the pronouncer for the event! 

As an aside, do check out the vey new children’s book about the true event involving MacNolia Cox , an African-American girl, and  her 1936 participation in National Spelling Bee! 

Monday, November 7, 2022

Heart on Your Sleeve; a Poetry Initiative Bringing Poetry into Public Spaces

For the next few months( November 2022 – April 2023), if you're in Philly, you'll be able to read selected poems on the coffee sleeves at Elixr's Center City location.

This year, these poems tap into themes of care and renewal.  On Saturday, many will all gather at Elixr to celebrate the poets, and indulge in delicious food and drinks courtesy of Philly staples from Yards Brewing Company & Wood Street Pizza!

Come for the good vibes, and stay for the unveiling of the gorgeous textile installation by artist, Destiny Palmer! And leave with a  coffee sleeve with Sojourner's poem on it hehe!

When: Saturday, November 5, 7-10pm
Where: Elixr Coffee on 207 S Sydenham St, Philadelphia!

This project is supported by Elixr Coffee and The Poetry Project.
And special thanks goes out to our wonderful curators, Molly Gross and Ryan Strand Greenberg
                                      Curators Greenberg and Gross

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Sowing Desire- Sojo's and My Poem on a Major City Mural

      Sowing Desire!  What an absolutely glorious day! Sojourner and I attended the dedication of a mural project we had been working on with  Mural Arts Philadelphia. Our poem is featured, with the stunning artwork of Priscilla Bell, Sheena Garcia, Wanda Payne and Pauline Houston McCall, on the Market St. wall of The Fresh Grocer, between 56th and 57th Streets- West Philly! Shout-out to Cathy Harris and Jane Golden of Mural Arts. Shout-out to Noah Smalls for being the genesis of this project. Shout-out to Karen Smith, Debra Wright and the Sistahs Laying Down of Hands Collective for blessing this event with the music of our ancestors. And a huge thanks to the management  of The Fresh Grocer.     

 Last week, the mother( in red), of one of my former students, saw the mural with the poem Sojo and I wrote on The Fresh Grocer Market wall,  which is in her neighborhood. She called me - most my parents have my number-so excited to tell me so. I taught her daughter in 2nd grade and her daughter is now going to 7th grade. Mom brought her and grandmother yesterday to the dedication of the mural - Sowing Desire. I do love what I am- a teacher - because it's all about building relationships and that is holy work as one of my Uber drivers, from Iran, once told me! 

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

To Live on Spring Forever

  Sojourner describes so well here the multilayers of needs supermarkets satisfy in our community and why this mural matters. We are so honored to have our poem featured on this mural, on the wall of a market that means so much to our folks. 

...by Sojourner Ahebee

   In the Philly, where I'm from, supermarkets aren't just places to shop for food -- they're vibrant community spaces you come to catch up with neighbors and care for one another. And as a child growing up in Philly, I was lucky to be raised by a community of southern women (my grandmother Sallie and my great aunt Lillian to be exact) who only ate fruits and veggies in season, who could turn any plot of land into lush abundance, who crushed grapes in their backyard for wine, who canned their spring produce so as to live on spring forever... I come from Black women who held their labor close, who worked to make a garden out of their desire. In other words, the poem and the mural are for all the Black women we know who've taught us a thing or two about ABUNDANCE, about making something out of nothing.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Walt Whitman Still Inspiring the Young- Whitman on Walls International Project

My wonderful students practicing yesterday for their evening performance of their poem, This is My City,  for the Walt Whitman on Walls project presented at the Venice Island Performing Arts Center. They will be sharing the stage with the great poets of their city. 

Thank you to all organizers of this project and participating poets: Karin Coonrod, of Yale's School of Drama and the Compagnia de’ Colombari  theatre,  Brooke Palma , Anthony Palma , Elijah Elijah B Pringle III , Sean Hanrahan , Alison Lubar,  Leah Jackson and David Kozinski.

Here is a link to the Philly Voice article about this event:  https://www.phillyvoice.com/walt-whitman-poetry-venice-island-performing-arts-center-manayunk/

Friday, August 5, 2022

May This Be a House of Joy

Poet Laureates Yolanda Wisher and Trapeta Mayson; Photo/Philly Magazine

Thank you to Yolanda Wisher and Trapeta Mayson for organizing a beautiful gathering of Philadelphia Black women and femme poets. Hosted at the Awbury Arboretum, this retreat was a day of cultivating joy through rest and pleasure.
After giving thanks to our Lenape sisters and brothers, the day consisted of literary walks, workshops, catered meals throughout the day, taking a historical group photo, double dutch, blowing bubbles and a poetry reading.

“May This be a House of Joy”
by Lucille Clifton

May this be a House of Joy.
May we be open here to dreams,
and to each other.

May all who enter in these magic walls
feel love and feel respect
for learning and each other.
May we be always friends to life.
May we walk in that friendship.

May learning live in this house.
May it never leave.

To learn more about this project read the following Philly Magazine article.