SPOTLIGHT ON PROTURAN
We are pleased to showcase Proturan. Below is a bio and four selections of their work.
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I have turned away from a traditional art path; having such a great outside to such a small inside doesn’t make sense to me, and, that is the bizarre structure, a hypocritical structure. Hype. Now, to be fair, I find myself at work in a museum. I am very dedicated to outsider and political art and artists; currently I’m very dedicated to acquiring works, particularly political works, specifically from women and trans artists.
Right now I’m also very, very concerned with the dominant populist narrative in the United States… it isn’t over yet and we, my friends, have our work cut out for us.
I want to give a nod to my many friends here who have encouraged and supported me in my writing and song along the way. I am so grateful for their care, shared dialog and inspiration. And, of course, tremendous support.
Of my work here, it may sound strange to say, but all of my stories are love stories. I struggle at times as I think many of us do, I struggle with myself and I struggle to make sense of a world that’s physically falling apart. I struggle in the fight for a better world. I believe in kindness, truth to kindness. The wells of kindness I find in others I admire tremendously. It’s very difficult to show tenderness especially when hurt. To be kind today is an act that requires incredible courage and will. I believe in that. And, do my best to live and communicate it.
First writing selection
I was in the house of Efrim when he did not know I was there. I sampled his pantry oils and ate his salt, noticed choices in pottery and the instruments strewn, slept in the night on his porch, ate the tangled herbs of his garden, and crept over his roof. I was in the house of Efrim for four days and three nights while I otherwise traipsed Montreal. When there I admired the scrawlings of his child, read notes left for the eyes of another posted on the refrigerator door, and noted (by inference of images in ephemera) that he visited the little city of my origin and had a measure affection felt for his time there.
How strange to be in such a nest; a dwelling place as something like a hidden safe in which is deposited the secret feelings and in this way, in a sense, to find myself privy to these artifacts of pause. How funny a meeting of sorts, I thought, as I counted the unusual number of horns on the head of a goat bearing a flag, drawn in black ink.
I crept again over the flat roof of the house of Efrim to perch on a cornice that overlooked the entrance gate. Day fell into night. Here, I meditated on the hope and disappointment I thought may be held in him. I did not dream.
It was here, I met Thomas. An equally unknown and uninvited guest to this house of a home; a voice with too many eyes to simply see.
I had known of Thomas before this first crossing of our lives. Unlike myself, he was fair in complexion with blue, blue eyes. But, like me, was present, penniless, jobless and without any institution that claimed him. He ate very little. A scholar of sorts, he was despised by those unable to appreciate the clever manner in which he illustrated too many truths about the fictitious nature of financial constructs; the ideological, unnatural, abstract lords over our lives. We spoke of image making, sigils, opposition.
I knew that once with a few friends in arms and 5k U.S.D., he and kith disappeared (abolished) $35,982,455.76 of debt burden held over many, many lives. An act it summoned in me quiet contemplation on a human legacy of 5,000 years of debt and its mechanisms. We could not see many stars but compared to New York City I felt surrounded by a sea of light. It was cold. Like moving air we slipped again inside of the house of Efrim.
In the corner of a warm room we made our rest. We bowed our heads, bent our knees, and craned our necks in mirrored movement like a slow dance to better whisper, listen; until night would again become day. We stretched the limbs of our eye (in sight) and thumbed through divergent, differing histories. I learned (that in a time now passed) he was a bastion of values obfuscated in organized religion with formal titles. One time he saw Mother Theresa naked. He since denounced his religious practice and was, in equity, denounced. A citizen born in the United States he did not like the subsumption of terms like, “American.” This Thomas, I surmised to be, in short: an impoverished and dangerous thinker; a life come to light.
“You devil!” I spoke in hushed delight.
I witnessed the sun begin its ascent in the window pane behind him as he met my words with a slow, sly smile.
“Well… in a manner of speaking,” he murmured in gentle tones.
I liked his candor, the warmth of his voice. He rose and I rose with him. We moved quietly through the house of Efrim, to the kitchen where he prepared for us tea.
In the nights after the house of Efrim I stowed myself in the trunk of another’s car if I did not roam; subsisted on almond-butter, marmite, dumpstered bread, and cheap beer. Salt.
Second writing selection
In this raining cold grey of a dusk I am inside, my hands cold.
I am pulling lines of ink across paper; pigment somehow fragile, flimsy.
In the evening air stinging words from One-now-a-stranger
invade my mind, "Not everything in your life has to be a fight…"
I misunderstand: I understand something else.
Life in this world is no fun, except, perhaps, for a few… This knowledge that offers little comfort.
Still, the echo stings and under my adoption has become repetitive while also unwelcome, cruel.
"Sssh," I say to ease my better mind. And refocus:
I bend pigment into symbols, as if transforming
iron into a needle, as if with the fire of will.
Patient hands. Experience. Precise tools…
I have learned, maybe, the strength of decisions made in poverty.
The world does not refer to us.
So very small my pictures and they unlike my dreaming.
May we (who are like this) be as towers and as the very towers of which we build.
May we then once found say:
"We waited for you, we're so glad you're here.
You are a star come to light.
We walk beside you.
We stand behind you; below, above; all around."
Tiny hands fall on my thigh and I am startled back to the passage of time, the shift of light.
Tiny hands belong to a small face that gazing up at me is laughing with love.
I find myself to be filled by far more love than anything else. What a world to inherit.
Those eyes, like her mother's (whom I adore) will come to find a mangled history, a history
she will come to bear—unrequested.
"Sssh," I say to ease my better mind. To her little face read my ink aloud.
We've had taken… so much
That is not objects; like my father,
like my father's father;
Like her mother, like her father,
like her father's mother.
Soon I will make for her hungry eyes a paper lantern in the shape of a star.
We will be as a small parade on these paved streets, poured like concrete,
in a space we try to make a home.
Understand this: our joy though small, brief, is a fight.
This is not about our burdens. This is about our needs, our rights, and access therein, overall.
We refuse to be ghosts. This is Life that is not for the delight of strangers.
Life that would dare to know you asking only for the same respect returned.
Third writing selection
The ghost who lives inside a corner of my skull, behind the left ear, lingers still.
In the mirror of my bedroom I sometimes catch a glimpse of her peering out from the eye. She does not speak but on occasion cries briny tears that bleed out her window, unexplained droplets wetting my cheek.
Today I roam again, a new city with only my thoughts for company. I found my life to be a lone one. I found myself peering into a strange looking glass of rainwater and salt cupped by an asphalt pothole. I watched the ghost gaze out again from her window and I wished desperately to know her thoughts.
I felt her stir. First as a warmth on my lid like a soft kiss, then little steps, fingers and toes sliding down my soft spine. I felt a fluttering across my stomach and sudden pang in the heart. Exiting, an unexpected cold fled my lungs into the night air, breathless.
She left me. And I with no such option.
Fourth writing selection
Born in the embers of cigarettes, dreams are discarded along with sooty ashes. Residue and nicotine deposits accumulate in the lung, cling to tender flesh. They will become a cancer if not abandoned, it's a fact unspoken.
In the dark hours of spring indolent streets cradle bricks, signs, and other constituents while soft buds sway in patchy orange light. The red glow of cigarettes make gentle arcs, betray the solitude of figures lingering on stoop and street.
And I am among them.
I learned to drink to quell any ember in the heart, to smoke for ashes to bank them. As I reflect, words "we must keep the blood warm but avoid fire," form in my mind and collapse as quickly. My voice rises in the dark. A voice without meaning.
Repetition is the mute language of the abused.
You can also listen to Proturan on YouTube:
“I walked the island of Montreal”
“The cat has decided”
“A night should not be quiet”
“O you, diaspora”