Nommo: The Power of the Word

On March 29th 2012 I had the honor of having an artistic role as a spoken word mentor at two different Toronto High Schools for two separate artistic events.

The first was a poetry slam at Central Tech HS involving 5 area high schools and approximately 16 poets. My role was to judge the slam. 5 pts total content. 5 pts total performance. The event was a culmination of several months of poetry workshops lead by my spoken word colleagues Alessandra and Rittalin.

I was joined by TDSB’s Christine Jackson. All the youth had something to say. The general theme was what’s in a name . The poems expressed what was missing from their names. What their names meant to them; society; “Webster’s”. How to supersede your name; reclaim ur name; overstand ur name. Some pieces were rhyme acrobatics; some were in ur face; some were quiet and unassuming; some were movement and throwing objects…

They all were powerful…

My 1-2-3 were all female; all of colour and all deep in content and courageous in owning their space.

They taught me to see beauty in myself for my creator named me not this world; to remember a colonial name can’t always reflect the inner identity of the one who bears it so kno who u are beyond it; and naming is sound; colour; silence and everything we choose it to be.

That evening I joined Diaspora Dialogues at the Young Writers Edge Showcase at Danforth Tech HS; where I had mentored my first group of HS students in the art of spoken word and slam poetry this winter. Students read pieces from a chapter book of their writings. Some were poems about cultural consciousness; some were poetic monologues about love lost and love found; some were more like teen screen plays for television or the big screen….a few students read from older unpublished works. And one student shared an oral retelling of the first poem he wrote as a tween in Columbia in Spanish.

They all were powerful…

Like the earlier event their were HS who before experiencing NOMMO the power of the word…were extremely shy; or embarrassed or not confident to speak those emotive thunderbolts and sandpaper mind melds which lay just beneath the surface. Awaiting the awakening….

It was in HS that I too found that awakening although I had been writing poems since I was 9…HS was when the poems began to connect to everything and nothing all at the same time and it was NOMMO!

I felt eyes wide open. Faces a glo. It was NOMMO. An ancient magic that does cast spells on the audience. A hypnotic trance of words which are rhythmic sounds of provocation of thought and invocation of feeling.

My journey as a spoken word mentor has just begun as my journey as a teller is never ending and always evolving.

Nommo
Feet stomping da earth
Nommo
Arms pounding da maize
Nommo
Hands balancing gourds filled with water on the crowns of our heads
Nommo
We weave and bead
Nommo
We chant and dance
Nommo
We love protect rejoice

And we say
Nommo
Nommo
Nommo

And we say
Nommo
Nommo
Nommo

And we say
And we say

They took our drums
and stole our tongues
so to each other
we could never speak
til our jaws grew weak
From a silence
Heavier than death
Did surround

Scattering
Scattering
Scattering

Tongues

Tongues
Buried
Beneath the ground
in the hopes
That they would never b found
Never b found

See they thought they took our
Nommo
The power of our words
But I guess they never nu
And I guess the never heard
That u can’t take our Nommo
Cuz our Nommo is our soul
and u can’t take our soul
cuz our souls not ready to go

And we say
Nommo
Nommo
Nommo

And we say
Nommo
Nommo
Nommo

And we say
And we say

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