My Moving Father

9.30am all four poets go to Emily Carr University of Art and Design  on the Island. Here we spend the day facilitating workshops for Canadian youth.  It is enjoyable and tiring and worth every second. The day ends with their performance and a good time is had by all.

I return to the hotel and my uncle Samson who builds and sells property in Seattle is waiting with a smile. I know he is tired.  He has travelled up from Seattle abut one hundred
and fifty miles away. The last time we met was here in 2006.It was when Something Dark, my previous play,  was at the East Vancouver Arts Centre.  I had invited my family to come
from the US. The play had been touring for five years up until then and this is the first time any of them had seen it. It is the last time I would speak to or see any of my fathers family except for Samson.

There is a part of the play that they can not accept. And without seeing the actual play   they cut me off.  It’s all got a bit Salman Rushdie.  The play was partially about my search for the family. The family that I had spent my life searching for. But in hearing of it they
had unified around one point and decided I was dead to them or something similarly dramatic. It all got a bit dark.  I still have their emails of veiled threats.

My own sister, the day before the following  Christmas, sent me an email informing me that
I should get a DNA test.  “I have people watching you” said my brother “you should know that I know people” said an highly educated aunt. Some didn’t threaten me at all. My aunt who used to call me each Sunday from San Fransisco, simply cut me off.   It was
a learning curve for me of how people in pain can twist.  We, the family and I, have a shared past, the darkness of it and the light. 

“So” says Samson, “I have a DVD here.  Both he and his friend are in my room at the
hotel. They are good people, that is not to say the others are bad. I put the DVD into my computer and it shows them all in Addis.  My grandfather was a millionaire. It prides me to say so in the light of peoples generally negative standing on the people of Africa.  And so
the video portrayed  how the affluent  lived in Ethiopia in the late 60’s.  It was around the time I was born in England.

The 16mm film  is pure 1960’s. It is beautiful and rare archive of weddings and family celebrations of  hip and happening Addis Abbaba before war would ravage the country and split neighbour from neighbour.  A time before all these children (my uncles and aunts) would leave for university never to return. “There he is” shouts Samson “there”. I press pause. And it’s true, there he is, my father, taking off his sunglasses, smiling at the camera. Shit he looks like me. It is the first time I have seen a moving picture of him.  The first time I have ever seen him move.  I press pause and return. I press pause and return. I press pause and return. I press pause and return.

10 thoughts on “My Moving Father

  1. You make me cry about every other blog post!
    I've often wondered what it would be like to see a moving picture of my own father (he died when I was 6 and I didn't see him that much when he was alive). It must be amazing…and kind of earthshaking.
    More crying!

  2. You are a piece of work! The whole family is wrong and you are right – right? Samson is of himself for coming and seeing you. Typical hypocrite. To begin with, he is the one who trumpeted how you are making a mockery of your father on the play, it doesn't surprise me he came to see you. Any one who knows him, know he is full of it. Maybe you too can be BFF. You being a self absorbed 'poet' who uses the father whom you trounce in your play. You are hypocrite, and liar. Stop using sympathy to gain attention. You are a grown man Norman. Act like one and repent.

  3. Lemn,
    You are a brilliant person who has clearly overcome so much to get to where you are today. Your story brings tears to my eyes and what saddens me the most are the people who try to villify you for telling your own story!!
    From your blog I have learnt that there is nothing like 'being grown up' when it comes to searching for your identity or trying to belong and for anyone who has never been in a situation like yours, the best thing for them to do is to just shut up and not be all so clever about how you are dealing with your quest to belong.
    I hope I can be able to watch you perform one day even though I live somewhere in the middle of Africa:)
    Best wishes Lemn and keep doing your thing!!

  4. you are a liar, i wonder what people think if they know for sure you are selling full of shit, your are full of it , you make me sick , samson came to see you that is not surprise , something like that is expected from him typical hypocrite.

  5. Interesting that you who shout accusations from your keyboard do so anonymously! Do you have a guilty conscience?

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