The Homeland Security guard in Boston Airport says my name as I walk by “Lemn”. I look at him. “I am Ethiopian” he says. We smile. We shake hands. I love being known to my people*. The flight is a short hop from Boston on Cape Air. I’m at The Nantucket Project. I’m here for less than 24 hours. The theme this year is is Seek the Truth. Endure the consequences.
There are two politically and economically significant and distinct islands within twenty miles of each other. They are Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Nantucket is known as The Grey Lady. The day is so clear I feel I could trail the sea with my hand as the cessna lands. Nantucket used to be a whaling Island. It was the richest place in America. I am staying at The White Elephant village. I’ve died and gone to heaven. The conference is two hundred yards away. Conference is the wrong word. This is The Nantucket Project.
I have been off the plane for just a few hours. The last speaker on stage was Senator John McCain. I know why I am here: to inspire and be inspired. I speak for a while and read one poem. A woman says to me later “The Nantucket Project does not give standing ovations easily”.
Less than 24 hours ago I was in England in a barn at Charleston. It’s Virginia Woolf’s sisters home where Woolf spent a lot of time writing. I hosted The Creative Future Literature Awards for marginalized communities and I was moved to tears by the standalone quality of work. The presentation of the creative future literature awards was part of Small Wonder Short Story Festival. *all people are my people)