During reading week, I finally recovered from being ill so I decided to go to the forest for both my Creative Writing and Interdisciplinary Art projects. I was still feeling anxious so my goal was to connect with Nature as a grounding technique.
This week, I went to Penglais Woods and did a few different things :
- I had barefoot walks
- I connected myself to Nature and my ancestors just like my grandma taught me : hugging and talking to trees (a lot)
- I meditated
- I made a falling performance with the wind
- I made mud paintings with my hands and prints with my feet
- I wrote poetry and worked on my Creative Writing assignment for the Writing and Place module
For my Writing and Place module, I will be writing a collection of poetry about an exploration of my roots in Penglais Woods. Being in Wales is special to me as I am French, my dad is Welsh and my mom is from Algeria. Both Algerian and Welsh cultures have developed a strong sensibility and connection to Nature (folklore) as well as a tradition for oral poetry. The African oral poetry is transmitted from generations to generations and has many specific functions such as the transmission of history, culture, tradition, etc. As my grandma is illiterate and analphabetic, she used to tell me many stories when I was little such as the story of the tradition of charcoal tattoos as a ritual of protection. She had tattoos on her forehead and also henna on her hands and arms. She also told me the history of the fig trees and the hollow tree which I can’t remember unfortunately. Yet she used to prey to the hollow tree everyday and talk to every single plant, trees and animals she had. I am probably sensitive to Nature thanks to her unfortunately, I cannot see her anymore as our family separated and I got separated from my roots. In this collection of oral poetry that I will perform, I will imagine what I would say to my ancestors and the women in my family who fought so that their children would have the freedom that they wished for and the ability to pursue their dreams. I will be writing Buqalah, a traditional genre of Algerian women poetry performed in ceremonies. The Buqalah poetry is about love, sexuality and the desire of freedom against French colonialism. In the ways that I express myself through art and writing, I can see how my voice is tinted by history. I wouldn’t be French if France didn’t colonize Algeria. I wouldn’t be speaking French as well. My mom wouldn’t have met my dad if France didn’t have colonies around the world which is the reason why the French Foreign Legion was created. As a result, if my dad didn’t join the French Foreign Legion, he wouldn’t have met my mom working for the French Army in South of France. Perhaps, I would be speaking Welsh in Wales if England didn’t invade its neighbour country. Perhaps, I would be breeding goats in Mountain Aurès or the Sahara with my Algerian family. I notice how different my life is, my name is Maï-Lyng Roberts, I am a woman who expresses herself with her body through performance art in Wales. I went to school, I know how to write and read and I know different languages too. I study what I am most passionate about : Fine Art and Creative Writing. I have the write to vote. I live in a student accommodation in my dad’s country. Not long ago, I let my hair down for the first time and I noticed that I have curls from my North African thick hair. I learned how to take care of it myself, how to explore my roots in the forest and heal ancestral trauma. I am free to not wear a veil, cover my face and belong to a religion. All those things that I get to be and do are thanks to my ancestors and I do not have my tribe’s tattoos on my forehead but my grandma taught me how to talk to Nature.