Kama La Mackerel, Artist – Montreal

(Photo: Pascha Marrow)

Kama La Mackerel is a Montreal-based Mauritian-Canadian multi-disciplinary artist, educator, writer, community-arts facilitator and literary translator who works within and across performance, photography, installations, textiles, digital art and literature. Their practice is grounded in the exploration of justice, love, healing, decoloniality, hybridity, cosmopolitanism and self- and collective-empowerment. They believe that aesthetic practices have the power to build resilience and act as resistance to the status quo, thereby enacting an anticolonial praxis through cultural production.

Kama has exhibited and performed their work internationally. Their writing in English, French and Kreol has appeared in publications both online and in print. ZOM-FAM, their debut poetry collection published by Metonymy Press was named a CBC Best Poetry Book and a Globe and Mail Best Debut Book, and was shortlisted for the QWF Concordia University First Book Award. Their exhibition Breaking the Promise of Tropical Emptiness: trans subjectivity in the Mauritian postcard is on view by appointment at Artcite Inc. until April 23.

  1. Reading contemporary Canadian literature by mostly QT/BIPOC writers

I am an avid reader. But also, as a writer, I think it is my duty to immerse myself into the words, worlds, and works of my peers and contemporaries. I find that the Canadian literary scape is particularly rich, filled with narratives of queer, trans, and BIPOC writers who are redefining what it means to write #CanLit. I think we are indebted to many independent presses for this surge of talent.

In this pile are a few of the recent outstanding titles that I had the utmost pleasure to delve into: Dominoes at Crossroads by Kaie Kellough (Esplanade Press), How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa (McClelland and Stewart), We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib (Viking), You are eating an orange. You are naked by Sheun-King (Book*Hug Press), Noopiming: the Cure for White Ladies by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson (House of Anansi), Love After the End: an Anthology of Two-spirit & Indigiqueer Speculative Fiction edited by Joshua Whitehead (Arsenal Pulp Press) and Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related. by Jenny Heijun Wills (McClelland and Stewart).

  1. Reading contemporary Québec literature in French

Besides reading in English, as a Francophone living in Québec and a literary translator, I also love immersing myself in contemporary Québec literature. It’s a very exciting literary world, an expansive one, with many exploration in genres. To me, the work of literary translation is a way of bridging the two literary solitudes.

Here are some recent titles that I encourage you to check out, should you want to try some Franco-Québ literature: Querelle de Roberval by Kevin Lambert (Héliotrope), La Minotaure by Marieve Maréchal (Triptyque), Désormais, ma demeure by Nicholas Dawson (Triptyque), Quand il fait triste, Bertha chante by Rodney Saint-Éloi (Québec Amérique), Là où je me terre by Caroline Dawson (Éditions du Remue-ménage) and Phototaxie by Olivia Tapiero (Mémoire d’encrier).

  1. Reading poetry!

Even though my reading interests span across genres, poetry remains my first love. Both as a writer and a performer, poetry is my primary mode of expression. I love to immerse myself in the creations of my peers, both in English and French, to discover their craft of word and voice. There is some true beauty in there that sustains me and inspires me.

Here are some titles in both languages: Un thé dans la toundra by Joséphine Bacon, Cœur yoyo by Laura Doyle Péan, N’entre pas dans mon âme avec tes chaussures by Natasha Kanapé Fontaine, Nous ne trahirons pas le poème by Rodney Saint-Éloi, La femme cent couleurs by Lorrie Jean-Louis (all published at Mémoire d’encrier), my yt mama by Mercedes Eng (Talon Books), Bittersweet by Natasha Ramoutar (Mawenzi House), Burning Sugar by cecily belle blain (Arsenal Pulp Press), and eat salt|gaze at the ocean by Junie Désil (Talon Books).

  1. Daily spiritual grounding

Outside of all of this reading, I also ground myself in daily spiritual practices. Deepening the spirit has been a way for me to work my way through ancestral healing, connecting to world views beyond that given to us by colonial structures. I do daily meditation sittings, I perform monthly full-moon rituals, and I learn to be connected to my intuition on a day-to-day basis. This practice also allows me to deepen my connection to the earth, to her energies, to the multiple gifts that she gives us as she nurtures us daily, and to further a relational, reciprocal relationship as opposed to an exploitative and transactional relationship to the earth.

  1. The meditative process of drawing

Finally, these days, I have gone back to drawing, painting, and carrying studies through detailed sketches. This is a deeply meditative process. As I go through cycles of creation, which typically end with a lot of outwards energy – producing, exhibiting, performing etc. – I tend to go back inwards in order to reconnect with myself, to listen to the parts of me that I need to grieve so that I can birth new parts of the self. These long hours of drawing and painting are always delightful, privileged moments that allow me to quiet the noise, to go inwards and listen to my own growth through my breath and heartbeat.