# Overlookings

things that are being overlooked: this is true for things nature as well as things

social: interactions, processes, situations – it can be difficult to see, to perceive, to be

willing. We are too embedded in what we might consider to be ‘normal’ to expand our vision – and our horizon, or just to open up on the spot, to see the beauty, the complexity, and listen to others and ourselves, to be imaginative, to stretch and to reach out.

Overlookings

Sometimes, and often, I can see

Symphonies develop and rise

From under the surface’

Sometimes, and often, I can suddenly

See and feel sweet surreal songs

Arising, uprising, like an

Uprising, a revolution

Developing from under the surface

But the symphony that rises and blossoms

Is fragile for it is in danger

Of being overlooked

And so it is in danger of its being

Not to be seen

Overlookings

Happen too much, and

Happen too often, and

So we miss out

On messages for us and in us

And impatience rises

Impatience and then confusion:

Are therefore overlooked

And so suspicion develops

For absurd reasons

And misinterpretations

And overlookings

With repetition

These repeated overlookings then

Result in not-hearing

A dialogue not opened

And so the beauty of the symphony

That arises and rises from

The hidden places of below

Is unheard

Unheard

Like an unheard voice

Like a silenced story

This is not a world without symphony

But problems arise

When we cannot hear it

So listen out for subterranean symphonies

And you might feel your spirit rising with it

For they express hidden dreams and desires

That you might overlook within yourself.                            © Ursula Troche, 9.15

# Thoughts + trees by the roadside

Do you want to teach the trees?

Teach the trees how to sing                                                                                                                          If you really think                                                                                                                                              They don’t know how to

Teach them how to breathe                                                                                                                          If you really think you can do without them                                                                                            You see, you need the trees

So there’s no need to teach them                                                                                                                 But treat them, well adore them                                                                                                             And give thanks for they save you                                                                                                           Every day from suffocation

So you need the trees to breathe                                                                                                               Without which you cannot sing or be                                                                                                         They were here before us                                                                                                                         They’ve always been

Can you see them, recognize them                                                                                                   Acknowledge them and listen                                                                                                                       To their language                                                                                                                                         The inscriptions on their skins                                                                                                                   And the structures they make                                                                                                                    In the earth and the sky

Teach yourself how to sing                                                                                                                         To the tunes of the trees                                                                                                                           Even if you really think                                                                                                                             You don’t know how to

Let’s try anyway                                                                                                                                          And just trust the trees                                                                                                                                For they were here before us                                                                                                                        And we need them in any case

Trees are a good therapy                                                                                                                              Against empire mentality                                                                                                                              So let’s try and be wise and learn                                                                                                                  What we can from the trees.

The Odd One Out

It’s They might think that I spend my time                                                                                        Thinking of ancestors well beyond me                                                                                                        And beyond what one can seen                                                                                                                  Of me externally

I am more than eager to explain                                                                                                               Indeed, I am desperate to do so:                                                                                                                To make understanding possible of what I mean                                                                                   And about the surprise it causes, and                                                                                                       Why I think about Africa in the first place

Yes, in the first place!                                                                                                                                         Not secondary or somewhere                                                                                                                         As a footnote                                                                                                                                                    Or unconsciousness or imperial endeavor                                                                                              No, I think of it to rekindle my memory                                                                                                 Of the ancestors that have disappeared                                                                                                From my skin and this life and my history

As if that was possible, of course                                                                                                               It is not, my history does not stop with my colour                                                                                 For it goes deeper, it starts earlier                                                                                                             It started before whiteness developed

But where did it end, in my case?                                                                                                          And where did it go, in my spirit?                                                                                                           Where memory lingers                                                                                                                             And blackness survives undercover                                                                                                              Distinctly noticed, gratefully received                                                                                                        I cannot help it                                                                                                                                            Nor do I want to eradicate                                                                                                                         The memory of what you can’t see

I don’t know why this memory is unusual                                                                                             For a body in my shade of skin                                                                                                                      But I treasure it and the knowledge                                                                                                              That it leaves me with, the sensitivity                                                                                                          For something out of line                                                                                                                      Something on the other side                                                                                                                      Of the colour-line.                                                                               © Ursula Troche, 10.15 / 1.16

ttt

# Writing, Belonging, Edges + the Elements – + a book review of ‘The Outrun’ by Amy Liptrot

Migration and “From Margin to Centre”

Writing and Belonging, writing about belonging: these are hot topics to write literature about for people ‘from somewhere else’, either real or imagined. That is, some of us are not ‘from somewhere else in our lifetime but are expected to be. Others, like me, have been ‘from somewhere else’ some time in our lifetime but are expected to stay that way: if you’ve once been ‘from somewhere else’ you will always be ‘from somewhere else’ – as if migration is impossible!

Migration literature, that’s the theme, and its topics include Identity, Otherness, Diaspora, Blackness – though not all of us are (visibly) black – hybridity. I stand out in this because I am expected not to be in this – though I am being reminded of being a foreigner every day, and as such asked when I am going back.

Though this is daily experience, I am not supposed to or expected to write about this. So it’s a strange thing. I am perhaps not ‘Other enough’! But that precisely creates a gap of invisibility for me again. So ironically, then, my presumed not-Other-enoughness takes me further away from the centre. I do understand this because I know that many in my position (foreigners of white appearance) do not yearn to write in the migration-and postcolonial genre. They might perceive their situation differently than me, or respond to it differently. It’s the thought(process) that counts! So, for me then for me perception and interpretation are my starting points for writing, not just unconsciously (hermeneutics could catch us all, with or without intention) – but consciously highlighted.

A typical postcolonial desire perhaps. The ‘surprise’ – that I engage in this – arises because my history is not obviously that of a colonised person – and the inability to think outside the box and across the colour line is taken for granted because the expected default mode is to get trapped in it! Plus in my own life I cannot ignore my ‘embodied knowledge’ (living as a foreigner) as well as my ‘inscribed knowledge’ (distant, if hidden, echoes of racial mixing within my family).

On some conceptual level, Amy Liptrot’s ‘The Outrun’ (a book I was fascinated by) comes

in handy here, as she is a second-generation English woman in Orkney, who was born there and who has a belonging there, but importantly not to the exclusion of London. We are Londoners, both, even if there is more to us than that.

Liptrot writes revealingly about always being in, and coming from, two distinctively different places. But the migration-genre of her writing seems to be overlooked in the book reviews I read, perhaps because this takes place within the same country Britain, and even more so because she writes eloquently about her alcoholism too: as if the two have nothing to do with each other! On the one hand this is of course true, as being a migrant doesn’t make you an alcoholic – but it could still be used as an (unconscious) coping strategy.

She is asking herself in her book why she became an alcoholic, and I see that she has an urge to ‘understand it all’ – the city and the islands. She wants to fit in, and thereby throws herself not only into party- and nightclub life but also into the corporate world. And the corporate world is stressful and it’s the place where the capitalist system is being remade everyday – which then in turn is responsible for the creation is marginal locations, such as small islands, impoverished countries, poverty per se. These are the places where people like me would call for a ‘redistribution of wealth’. But if you participate in this same system, it might drive you mad or to drink.

Liptrot mentions her fascination and engagement with ‘edges’, but doesn’t call for a redistribution – though this might be a hidden desire concealed in her drink, and now in the void she talks about that she is trying to fill.

I am fascinated by the different ways of thinking about edges. For Liptrot, edges are opposed to ‘balance’. It’s amazing that that never struck me in my own exploration of edges. My engagement with edges seem to have a more postcolonial conceptualisation: the desire to explore and question this arrangement: once again the redistribution-call, in favour of equality and (there it is) ‘balance’ (somehow echoing bell hooks ‘From Margin to Centre’ (1984)).

There are other edges of course, the elements and where they intersect: the coastlines, outlines, and horizons. As a nature-soul-writer too, I share this passion with Liptrot. But I see these edges as intersections, and therefore centrepieces, even if generally unrecognized. Once again here it is: perception and interpretation are my starting points. Hers too, of course, just differently, so it’s amazing to read about differences, and about similarities. I highly recommend the book.

Here’s a poem I wrote in 2009 about connecting places:

Writing Home

I can now recognise

That the rivers, mountains and forests, streets and junctions

Are my home

That they are, at least a part of, my own

Though others may never think so

Because the way I pronounce my words

Apparently disqualifies me

From those rivers, mountains and forests, streets and junctions

As I am not a part of this nation

Though it probably appears to be the case

When I don’t speak

My belonging

Depends on my silence

This could be my home for all to see

When I am mute

When there is no obvious hint

Of Otherness

Emanating from me

Yet in the many communities of foreigners and natives

They might trust or distrust me

For my colour

From which all apparent traces of Africa

Have been removed

For generations.

For centuries

My Otherness has been removed

From ambivalent visibility to audibility

Yet I am seen to compete with Other Others

Though this is not my intention

As I do not assimilate, no

No, I seek harmony. I seek peace, belonging, understanding

I seek connection

To These people and to all the Other people

I seek connection

Until the Others and the Ones will merge

I seek connection

Until home and abroad will merge

Until home will emerge without borders and limitations

Out of fragile, controversial and partial unconsciousness

Into our Collective Conscious.                                               © Ursula Troche, 5.09