brick by brick

When I see the houses in different states of completeness: exposed brick, half-painted brick, putting up the first floor, It reminds me that life is process, and we’re constantly making it, like these houses, what we want, from wherever we begin.   Brasilandia, 2013.

environmental lessons

-Rosemary likes sunshine, so we planted it over there where it’ll get lots of it- Interwoven with observations about where the sun rises and sets, -it rises on that side and sets on that other one- an explorations of smells: of soil, of compost, -compost contains dung from a cow or a horse- The fear…

on poetry, and agosín’s ‘i lived on butterfly hill’

“Poetry is a violence from within that protects us from a violence without” Wallace Stevens One evening many years ago, I stood up in a modestly filled room at the Goethe Institut, Nairobi, walked somewhat unsurely to a seat at the front and read some poems from my ‘Pink book’ notebook collection of poetry. The…

an ode to brasilândia

What is Brasilândia? A many layered thing- literally. A mix of textures, colours, sounds, “lá tudo nublado, aqui tudo colorido” as my host sister put it, The day she took me on a walk Through her colourful neighbourhood. A slice of life all in one short street. Where the church and local pub vie for…

a year later: on being ‘back’

It has recently been making itself known to me that it is a year since I finished my travels on my fellowship. Perhaps it’s because it’s now getting warmer in Nairobi- and it had been a while since I was in one place long enough to see all the changes in weather over a period…

nairobi in winter

This cold that takes residence in, chills, and sets your bones. You’re seated inside but you might as well have been walking outside in a Wellesley winter. Seated in these stone houses: borrowed, gifted, stolen, forced- they were not meant for the unwarmed cold. They come with chimneys, diligently built into every sitting room. And…

why make one?

“Why make one when you can buy one? Why bother with all this wood-hammer business, Wouldn’t it be easier to go to the shop and buy one?!” My host brother in Brazil, Dimas, and I made a shoe rack from pieces of discarded wood he found at a dump on his way home. While we…

climate change vignettes

Climate change, changes to long-standing weather patterns in response to changes in the atmosphere (forcings), is happening today, perhaps has always been happening. These are vignettes I wrote to humanise the experience of people who have to grapple with changes in their environments.