By Rose Napoleon
Revised by Nicoleta Stoodley
Dear book lovers, this Saturday, November 25 & Sunday, November 26, will take place the 3rd edition of The Holiday Pop-Up Book Fair in Le café of Monument National!Why should you go? For the books of course! You can also have your book signed by your favourite author! AND it’s a free event!
The Punch Hour Media met Blossom Thom, a happy soul and a fantastic author, to talk about her recent poetry book #Hashtagrelief, published in March 2017. The poems are about the violence towards people of colour.
Blossom Thom left Guyana when she was only 2 years old. She grew up in Southern Ontario. Her memories of Guyana are from the one trip back with her parents. To make us understand the mentality of the society of her time, she mentioned this:
“When I was born Martin Luther King was still alive. I was only 6 months old when he was killed.”
Most of her education was done in Ontario, and she moved to Montreal in her early 20’ s. Montreal is considered her home this is where she feels she can Blossom. She specifies that it does not mean that there is no racism here. There still is some.
To the author, racism is expressed more openly in Montreal. Montrealers are more upfront, they don’t really choose their words with care when it comes to racism. She prefers it that way because then she knows who she is dealing with.
“Racism is much more insidious in Ontario where I lived. It’s much more subtle. “
We’ve gotten better. Not the situation.
Blossom brought up an interesting point of view when it comes to the racism in the U.S. She feels thankful, for the 45th president: because of him, more people are speaking out say that some things are not okay. They are more open to step up.
I told Blossom that I read her poem (No Justice, No peace ) and ironically, I didn’t feel relief while reading it. After a good laugh, she confirmed that it was normal. This poem wasn’t intended to relieve anything. Blossom was on Twitter looking for the result of an election. And found tweets about another brown child that has been murdered for no reason. That’s where she found inspiration for most of her poems. As well as the title of her book #Hashtagrelief.
When you read the title really fast, you could also think it’s #hashtag grief …food for thought on here…
“ I wanted to document, the experiences of black and brown people: the experience of the activists”
One of the main reason to write the book was while going to the museum, she realized that there were no paintings of black people. What’s shocking is that many back communities immigrated from centuries ago to Montreal. She even referred to Champlain’s translator, Mathieu de Costa, who was also black. She still looks to Twitter to share content and information. Thanks to Twitter, we were made aware of the Mike Brown case (Almost 100 days before mainstream media). It’s a great way to stay informed. Her book was intended for everyone. Not specifically for younger people, even though the title would make us think otherwise. Blossom Thom explains that the younger generation is lucky and unlucky at the same time. We have ways to get information more than ever (provided we always make sure of the source). It can also be a bad thing since emotionally speaking, it can be heavy. Not explicitly, she explains that it’s our responsibility to use social media tools to denounce violence against people of colour.
To Blossom, the poem is just a way for the ideas to express themselves through her. She also loves the technical part of writing poetry. Making sure every word counts. Playing with metaphors is also something she enjoys. Blossom loves that one text can speak in different ways to different people. She explains that feature with a strong example:
“When slaves were singing spirituals. (She sings) ‘Wade in the water, wade in the water, children’. The slave’s owner would hear, ‘Oh, it’s a nice Christian song’. But the enslaved would hear, ‘Ok, you need to walk in the water, when you are escaping’. ”
The most challenging poem she had to write was A love letter to the last black man. She got inspired by a tweet that said They can’t kill us all. Blossom wrote a poem that gave advice to the last black man. To make the poem feel true, she wrote the letter to her older brother. It was the most difficult poem to write, emotionally speaking
I asked her- If you could create a punch that would make the world better, what ingredients would you like to put in it ?
” I would start with compassion, time & some El Dorado rum from Guyana, because it’s the best! (laughs). And a hug, a real big hug! ”
Blossom Thom will be at the Holiday Pop-Up Book Fair, the 25 and the 26 of November, in Le café of the Monument National in Montreal. She will be part of Rapid-Fire Reading, Ricochet Writting, where 20 authors will only have 2 minutes to read a part of their book. It’ gonna be a ton of fun!