Walking Stories

By Kahlil Crawford

PROMPT—Ask Me.

I initially wrote because I was enamored with the idea of poetry and later hip-hop. However, my first meaningful writing experiences occurred as cathartic therapy in the form of performed poetics. Making sense of a seemingly insane world, to me, seemed most sensible from the landed end of my hand-to-pen. There, I could record worldly observations that were exclusive to me, yet share them at my own discretion. That’s power. The hand-to-pen does not necessarily reveal visual or bodily signals otherwise detected by the observant. The paper, canvas or wall is its solitary witness and responds only with yellowing, wrinkling, cracking, and bleeding. Writing is my timeless blood covenant. For years, my appreciation of solitude was extreme. I found comfort in the “starving artist” (“bohemian”) lifestyle, spending much of my time roaming, traveling, learning, connecting, and sharing — “walking” my stories. The concept of walking a story is something I learned from an indigenous storyteller in Minnesota during my youth. The idea of surrendering my pen to corporate (or any other) America seemed absurd, for I truly believed in and embraced “Art for art’s sake.” That notion changed when I partnered with a Chicana activist-artist who embodied “Art for NATION’s sake.” Her abandonment of “the artist life” for political life was consistent with her ethnic heritage and creative tradition. She showed me how much I, an ethnic minority as well, remained colonized in my creative motives. How sensible is it to NOT write for a people created and thwarted on this very soil? Today, I no longer have a “why” to write, but a “who” to write. How do I portray myself, my protagonists and antagonists? Do I write all humans equally or do I cast their diversity to champion my preferences?

Kahlil Crawford is a Co-Editor at Synchronized Chaos journal. He has also contributed to the Journal of Expressive Writing, Dance of My Hands Publishing, and Spirit Fire Review.