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#SoulCare: Radical Happiness

A program about happiness and activism with authors including Koleka Putuma (South Africa) and Jens Meijen (Belgium), as well as Radna Fabias, Munganyende Hélène Christelle, Hassnae Bouazza (moderator), and singer Bahghi and dancer Gil Gomes Leal. In Engl

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"Joy is an act of resistance" is a slogan that is gaining traction. Can happiness be a form of activism? Is there such a thing as restful resistance? And why is self-care so important? These questions constituted the foundation of this concluding program of the first, online part of the Winternachten International Literature Festival 2021 - a warm bath of radical inspiration.

"It's up to us": this theme emerges from the work of photographer Tyler Mitchell, whose summer 2019 exhibit I Can Make You Feel Good at Amsterdam's FOAM photography museum was a sensitive ode to a "black utopia". Mitchell photographed young black people looking relaxed, sensitive and proud in idyllic settings. It was a beacon of hope for how things could look and a sharp contrast to dominant media images of black people that are usually associated with strife, pain and violence.

Mitchell's work was one source of inspiration for programmer Fleur Jeras, as was the poetry of the South African poet and performer Koleka Putuma - especially her poem Black Joy from the volume Collective Amnesia. Poet Alfred Schaffer, who translated Putuma's poetry into Dutch for Terras magazine, wrote the following in the magazine Groene Amsterdammer: "You could say that Putuma in looking for a way out of the impasse with Collective Amnesia; she must escape the expectations of both the white and black public. Love could be an escape route."

A fragment of the poem Black Joy by Koleka Putuma, from her collection Collective Amnesia:

isn't funny?
That when they ask about black childhood,
all they are interested in is our pain,
as if the joy-parts were accidental.

I write love poems, too,
you only want to see my mouth torn open in protest,
as if my mouth were a wound
with pus and gangrene
for joy.

Journalist Hassnae Bouazza discussed this poem with Putuma via a video connection from Capetown. We also brought you Putuma's work in other forms: poet Radna Fabias read Dutch translations of Putuma's work, while singer-songwriter Bahghi and dancer Gil Gomes Leal presented new works inspired by Black Joy.

Read three poems by Koleka Putuma here.

In addition, poet Jens Meijen and writer-podcaster Munganyende Hélène Christelle gave practical examples about how to create peace of mind and reflected on activism, a state of happiness, and the future.

More background:


Hassnae Bouazza

Munganyende Hélène Christelle
Podcast Fufu & Dadels

Radna Fabias
Video: Radna Fabia recites her poem Roestplaats on DichterBij (VPRO)

Gil Gomes Leal
website: Ayahuasca performance by Gil Gomes Leal & ISH Dance Collective

Jens Meijen
Short story Kaddisj, published in Hard//hoofd

Koleka Putuma
Video: Koleka Putuma reads from Collective Amnesia on the Capetown-Muizenburg train