CULTIVATING CREATIVITY: Outspoken word, the art of Abena Beloved Green

By Ardith Racey/Quinte Arts Council

Abena Beloved Green is no stranger to odes and accolades. Her most recent publication, titled Ode to the Unpraised (Pottersfield Press, 2020) is a testament to the lives and stories of 26 women – friends and family of Greens – whose stories would not otherwise be told. After a missed opportunity to gather her grandmothers personal reflections, Green decided to collect and reflect about the lives and issues of multigenerational women from Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Ghana. The work first transcribes brief conversations about everything from housework to courage, and Greens poems provide an additional layer of meaning that is a mix of their words, a response to what they said or something previously written.” The result is an empowering read that offers insights in recorded prose conversations and Greens own poetry about the personal essence” of being female.

Green recently moved to the Quinte area. She grew up in Nova Scotia and spent a year abroad in Ghana” which she considers the best year of [her] life.” It was during this time that she took a creative writing course at the University in Ghana and was inspired by a teacher who told her not to adopt other peoples fears as your own. The same teacher also admonished her for wordiness – a lesson that she considers important when crafting her own work, both written and spoken.

Although Green’s roots are with traditional written poems and stories, she also enjoys the craft” of spoken word poetry because it allows you to say what you need without considering form. It allows me to speak more freely and creates a different connection. It allows you to be wordy.”

But Green says that it is dance that really sets her frees: “Dance is a form of resistance and a powerful element of communication,” she says. “Dance can be very interpretive – you can use dance to convey meaning for things for which you have not yet formed the words.” This idea is precisely what distinguishes Green from other poets because she is apt at expression on so many levels.

Green’s spouse is in the military – hence the move to this area. The mother of a five-year-old who still plays outside which gives her hope,” she says that although she dreams about post-pandemic, she is really thinking about family right now.” She performed virtually on First Tuesday Muses Poetry Night in May and is beginning to make connections with other writers and arts groups in the area. She’s also hoping to organize a book launch soon and to invite those featured [in Ode] to take part,” as well as teaching writing workshops.

The recipient of several awards (including the 2016 Nova Writes Poetry Prize), she was recently nominated for the Golden Beret Award for lifetime achievement and community contribution in spoken word, via the League of Canadian Poets. In 2019, she spoke and shared her work at the Kingston WritersFest.

You can find Green’s first book of poetry titled The Way We Hold On (2018), as well as Ode at the Novel Idea bookstore in Kingston, and online. Find her on Instagram at @a_belovedgreen.

This article was originally published in the summer issue of Umbrella magazine, available now.