I SPEAK FROM… a “lecture” by Zena Edwards for students of Winnipeg University – An hour of sharing the life and times of a writer performer.

Imagine being asked to speak for just 10, maybe 15 minutes about your life and how you came to be where you are today. There are two reactions to this request. Cold fear or hot excitement, both to the thought  of having the spotlight on you. In either case, respectively, you would speak too little, missing out the juicy bits you’d kick yourself later for not having said (could have made you sound a whole heap more interesting). Or  there’s speaking too much, starting from your first tooth falling out to the day you realized that mortgages are no fun. What do you leave out, or put in and why should people care anyway?

That’s the first thing that crossed my mind when I was invited to, not only perform at theSarasvarti Productions Femfest in Winnipeg, Canada, but I was also asked to deliver a “lecture” about my life, times and trials into becoming a writer, poet and performer.
I found it hard to see how speaking about myself for an HOUR! could be considered a “lecture” but ok… I mean, I’d  spoken for a 20 minutes tops before, maybe,  but an hour….?

Well, laying awake the night before (partly jet-lagged, partly nerves), it turned out that  I fell into the latter category. I had a lot to pack in. So I spoke fast hoping they would catch all I was saying, with my British, sometimes cockney accent and I hoped that I would make sense to those listening, me being a black woman. How much time would it take them to get over that phenomenon…?  How I sound and how I speak. I sometimes can’t get over it… (bear with me in this blog and the “lecture”. Its Black History Month in the UK. ALL those of African descent are thinking about  their “blackness” right now…)

But overall, it was interesting FOR ME to see how all things tie together, how events that don’t seem to make sense at the time,  have made me the artist, person and thinker that I am today.  Interesting…. *scratching chin*…. Although the journey of a spoken word artist and a woman of colour has been fraught with artistic and cultural  twists and turns, I have flexed a variety of intellectual and spiritual muscles to gain and maintain an artistic flexibility I would not swap for anything. I think  a lot about the struggle to remain individualistic, original and true to self in a fickle and demanding arts and  entertainment industry.
The Spirit of Creativity in Real Life never allowed me to be anything other than a self  that felt (feels) genuine to me. My body reacts badly. Creativity through creative writing, poetry, song, performance and storytelling has moulded me, excited me, kept me interested in life and learning.
So take a listen to my twitterings and, hopefully, be inspired to  make up your own mind about how your life experiences have made you the person you are today. Peace.

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