being other as an other / anastasia osei-kuffour
Here at #tfhq, we want to create a space for all Black British experiences and make space for the multiple ways in which they/we express themselves. This week, our Trainee Artistic Director Anastasia uses poetry to talk about her experiences of navigating her intersecting worlds of religion, theatre and black identity.
‘I am a poet because I love playing with words. I turn to poetry when I need to think and want to explore my feelings because I find it easier to capture what and how I feel when I write a poem. When I write, I write with a rhythm and rhyme that is best experienced through hearing rather than reading it so channel your inner performer and read it aloud.
Brown on my skin,
Black and from London,
Often a token black
hoping I’m not regarded as sin,
As I move through seas of white
In many a theatrical gathering.
My otherness calves a way for me,
Parting the sea,
Finding a way to progress,
Befriending the white infrastructure I see,
Hugging and caressing,
Sometimes restricting and repressing,
But I’m counting my blessings.
I’ve got a way through,
To the promised land of getting to make art,
One of the few.
Yes I’m taking part.
Pulling away from my Pharaoh:
Self-doubt, others’ disrespect, disregard.
You’ve got to know
There’s more to me than stereotype,
I’m not exotic, foreign or part of the hype
otherness is often treated with
In a token event, show or single advent
On the calendar of a theatre’s repertoire.
I’m not niche or to be fetishised.
I’m just me.
Not from over there.
And enlightened arms are recognising my potential,
Though I’m un-categorisable,
As I span different things,
Intersectional as a normal human being,
I’m being embraced,
Other as an other in colour,
And as the faithful,
I believe not just that anything is possible
Like most people creating art believe,
But I have faith in God, actual,
Jesus is not fictional,
He’s pivotal to my vision, my world, my heart,
My perpetual being.
His love, the fuel for my living,
The reason I’m a Christian,
The reason I’m in to creating,
Despite the perception that art is in opposition to faith,
In me is the two married,
The creator God gives me power
In Him I’m safe,
I’ve the ability and life to be a maker
Something out of thin air,
Words in to action, and suddenly it’s there,
So as I look out at a sea of mainly white,
And thank God an increasing mix of ethnicity gaining might,
I see the power of secularity,
Prominent and asserted as the status quo
Melting, mixing with other people’s knows.
I’m the antithesis
Of what people think exists,
I’m not the mainstream
Common on a list,
But a channel of colour and faith,
Joining a great sea made rich by me being me,
Rich, the art that we all so love and cherish being a part.
And though my existance is sometimes unseen,
A small channel and stream,
With great dreams,
I’m gathering momentum and speed.
There’s room for all kinds,
And art is not the privelege of the few,
There’s plenty of difference to find,
All points of view,
To be welcomed,
If all the world’s a stage
Then all races must be faced,
Acknowledged seen and allowed
To sit, be involved, be encouraged,
There are more like me,
Sometimes invisible but existing,
The seas and waves of creativity,
Affecting the world,
Giving it life, prosperity.
If you are blind, better open your eyes,
See the future is divine,
Beautiful with diversity.’
anastasia osei-kuffour is the Trainee Artistic Director at tiata fahodzi (part of the Trainee Artistic Director Residency through the Artistic Director Leadership Programme (ADLP)). The image used is called ‘Parting of the Red Sea’ by digital artist Oliver Crosby.