Salaam Green is another one of my local heroes. She does amazing work in Birmingham and beyond and is a living example of the power of creativity. I'm thrilled to share her words on reading, writing, creativity, and grace. *Also, Birmingham folks: Salaam will be one of this year's TEDx Birmingham speakers on Saturday, March 24th.
1. What's something you've read recently that has stayed with you?
I am a news junkie and perhaps a little addicted to the news cycle. When not watching or reading the news I am a voracious non-fiction reader. I always have loved the black and white print on newspapers. With that said; I have been combing over the special report from the United Nations Rapporteur on Poverty on Alabama's extreme conditions particularly in the Black Belt-He stated that when he did his visit he saw some of the worst sanitation and sewage conditions he has ever seen around the globe. For a couple of years, I have been conducting healing and writing sessions with activist and community folks in Uniontown and this is really where I feel at home with my writing and my voice. The report highlights egregious discriminatory acts and environmental injustice which is what the groups I work with are fighting. I am interested in using healing and writing as a tool for authentic stories to be told and voiced and hopefully to remedy some stress faced by many in these communities.
2. What's one of your favorite writing prompts?
Interesting question. I have attended a women's writing class once a week for over five years and we have numerous amazing prompts which get my writing blood pumping; however, my all-time favorite is "I am from..." this is what was used with me in high school and I use it with all ages. Simple, tried, and true. I am from dark eyes that cured nasty colds in January with old-fashioned remedies. I am from sweet honey hot tea stories with a side of lemon.
3. Why do you think it's important for us to nurture our creativity?
I wholeheartedly believe if we don't nurture our creativity we die in small significant ways daily. I did not write or do my art until I was in my late 30's and I can't imagine a day without the outlet of writing now. I believe creativity is our outlet towards our truest selves. Also, what we are gifted we are to give away so others may heal. I believe creativity is the way we heal and nurture the world.
4. Where have you noticed grace recently?
Noticing grace, accepting grace, and giving myself grace is a challenge for me. When I think of where I have seen grace lately it would have to be inside of me. I am grace it is the breath that causes oxygen to be released into my brain. I have seen grace as I haven't been able to go on my daily walk and my spirit still has flourished, I see grace as I write being a non-academic, writing is my life and words I feel are my gifts and it's only grace that allows both of these things to co-exist inside of me and flow into a world that doesn't always accept my "kind of writing, style, or black southern rural woman voice".
Also, my 12-month-old active puppy shows me grace every day, Gigi is truly not a laid back dog by any means and she loves unconditionally even when I may not. Her puppy kisses are always there to remind me that no matter how much I mess up I am still worthy of extreme affection. If I ever have a writing deadline or any creative pursuit that I desire to do and it doesn't get done-blame her she is a great laptop licker and time consumer.
5. What are your thoughts on any connections you notice between reading, writing, creativity, and/or grace?
A book I read recently was Angie Thomas's The Hate U Give. This book was a close reminder to me how humanity can extend grace even when I as a reader didn't believe it should be extended. The eloquence of humanity's grace can be found in the heart of a writer. If we are to write truly about the entire human experience we can't exact grace from the narrative. My professional background is in early childhood and as an Early Childhood Administrator, I read profusely every children's book that ever existed at least 100 times backwards and forward with rhyme and song; however when I would watch young children who were not yet ready to read actual sit quietly in a corner with their favorite book upside down mouthing the words silently to themselves that was grace in action as the emerging reader began to fall in love with the most human experience- themselves and creativity.
Salaam is a Poet, Author, Social Health Activist and Speaker. Founder of the Literary Healing Arts Foundation, promoting the healing power of words. 2016 Poet Laureate for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Honored as Women of Wisdom 2016, International Women’s Day Poet for Mayor William Bell’s Administration. Member of Sister City Connection Spoken Word Troupe & Women Writing for a Change, See Jane Write Member of the Month. Member of the International Society of Poetry Therapy Facilitators, Contributor to The Black Female Project. Published in the Birmingham Times, Al.com, I am The F-Bomb, Bad Ass Biz Women featured author in the books My Second Story and I am Women:15 Stories of Triumph and more… founder of @beautifulblackpoetry Contact Salaam and subscribe to book Salaam for Speaking, Community Healing Circles and Workshops, or Poetry Showcases and readings @ www.literaryhealingarts.com; firstname.lastname@example.org Follow @beautifulblackpoetry on Instagram as Lit Healer; @salaamgreen1 on Twitter; Salaam Green on FB