Recently I did something that I have never done before in my life. While I was in Rwanda on a work-related trip, I attended a Spoken Word event and at the urging of a friend, performed two of my poems (Exile & Maelstrom of Heartache). It was the first time that I have ever recited my poetry to an audience of strangers. Even more scary was the fact that the poems I performed were about love and heartbreak, which are extremely personal topics for me, that I invariably prefer to keep private. On top of that it was nervewracking to stand before fifty odd people, with their eyes fixed on me and their ears glued to every word that I uttered.

In spite of my trepidation, I can honestly say that it was an exhilerating experience. And by that I do not mean the applause at the end, nor the kind words of encouragement that I received afterwards from a few audience members. I am referring to the release of energy that I felt after sharing a part of me, that is so intimate and integral to my existence, with the outside world. It was as if a tremendous weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Although, at first I had felt exposed and alone on the stage during the performamce, by the end I felt invigorated with strength and confidence. I knew immediately that I wanted to perform my poetry again. I was instantly hooked, despite the fact that I see myself more as a writer than a poet.

Even more interesting is that since that moment I have felt myself bursting with a new source of creative inspiration. Literally, my mind has been flooded with a myriad of ideas ever since I performed that night. Even on the red-eye flight back to Europe, as I drifted in and out sleep, I found my creative juices flowing. By the time I landed in Brussels I had given birth to a new poem. Subsequently, in the past week I have written even more poetry, including one piece, called Code Noir, in French. To give you a small taste of my latest poetic handiwork, I share below the as yet untitled poem that I conceived at 36,000 ft en route from Kigali to Brussels:

As I gaze upon the face of the sky
I try in vain to read a sign
Of hope
Of change in this wintry season of my life
Yet her shifting contours are as impervious to scrutiny
As the blank stare of the abyss peering into my soul

Where will this lonely road lead?
Truth was supposed to be the key
To salvation
To redemption
To renaissance
But what has it wrought beyond pain and misery?

Life is suffering I know
From Russian gulags to corporate boardrooms and school playgrounds
Sometimes it feels like it is too much to bear
This heavy cross
These grave thoughts
Weighing down my weary soul

My only saving grace
On this hellish journey
Is to remind myself of the God within
Of the grace
Of the beauty
That lies in everything.

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