On Creativity, On Writing, Photography

Create Dangerously

Written August 31, 2011. Photo: Catholic Cemetery, Dominica. December, 2009

I am currently reading a book called, “Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work” by Haitian-born writer Edwidge Danticat and I am loving it. In addition to the story-telling, Danticat speaks about the importance of breaking silences, self doubt, and writing through fear.

“There are many possible interpretations of what it means to create dangerously, and Albert Camus, like the poet Osip Mandelstam, suggest that it is creating as a revolt against silence, creating when both the creation and the reception, the writing and the reading, are dangerous undertakings, disobedience to a directive.”

Danticat also writes about lineage, ancestry, and of course, Haitian culture, one in which I can see many similarities to my own Caribbean background and to which I strongly relate.

“We think we are people who might not have been able to go to school at all, who might never have learned to read and write. We think we are the children of people who have lived in the shadows for too long.”

While I don’t have to worry about being disappeared by a dictatorship for the things that I write and the books that I read, I have always felt an urgent fear around writing that holds me back from what I REALLY want to say. I write with the fear that there are things inside me that must stay under lock and key, the consequence of their release being so destructive that it will hurt people badly and I will die of the guilt that comes of it. 

I am at a precipice. I am teetering right on the edge. I have set all other work aside as much as I can in order to take a try at writing something truly scary. Photography is important to me, but it has always felt like a stepping stone to writing. Photography is a less dangerous way for me to express myself as I gain my footing. It is meditation in motion — a way for me to subconsciously talk to myself about what I want to say. It is a way to speak without words. Writing is aggressive. It is the Kraken inside me unleashed. Where will it go? What will it do? 

I sit here each day fiddling with the keys in my hands, pretending that there is some way to let it out, but also keep it under control. Knowing that I can’t have it both ways. 

I look to the words of writers like Edwidge Danticat, Jamaica Kincaid, Audre Lorde and others, hoping that some of their fearlessness will inspire me to my own. I cling to passages and search for signs that the beast at my fingertips will not destroy the village or kill the peaceful villagers asleep within.


The above photo was taken at the Catholic Cemetery in Roseau, Dominica on a month long trip to the Caribbean (Dec 2009 – Jan 2010) in search of my ancestry.

December 25, 2009. Roseau, Dominica

I searched all of the cemeteries in Roseau, including this one, the Catholic Cemetery, for traces of my ancestors. To my dismay the vast majority of graves were from the 1980s and on.