Welcome to the virtual book tour of Charcoal by Ami Tamakloe. We have since been looking forward to this day in order to be able to speak with the author as we join her in sharing her work with the world.
Charcoal is a book that draws on your emotions, not just with words, but with beautifully drawn images spread around the book that joins in conveying the beauty and meaning that the author is sharing with us. From the pages of thoughts to the enthralling short stories which captivated human emotions with her writing style.
For the benefit of those who haven’t read the book, we’ll start by giving a quick summary of the plot. Scroll further down to hear Ami Tamakloe reading from Charcoal. Write your questions in the comments section. Watch the exciting Live Q & A with author Ami Tamakloe Here. Share. Invite your friends.
Details about Charcoal by Ami Tamakloe
Genre: Anthology, Multimedia, Collection of Thoughts, Collection of Short Stories
Charcoal: Book of Thought & Short Stories is multimedia project that gives its audience access to narratives that hold mirrors of humanity, queerness, feminism, and different aspects of the black experience, to itself. It provides this experience through text, illustrations, and audio.
Charcoal Book Tour – Poetry Excerpt
Take a minute
To take an actual breath!
You have done good
Be proud of yourself!
It’s easy to know what we don’t want
And forget what we do get
But know that it’s not over yet
You have achieved a lot
Wear your crown with pride!
Bask in the glory of your achievements
Polish your crown
Let it shine
Let it fuel your life’s jet
Work towards the dreams you’ve set
And never once think
You’re not blessed
For the very breath that you have
Is the first
of the blessing
That you are and will continue to get
Paint the clouds with a brush dipped in your tears my love
Paint the birds dark as your breaking heart
Draw the trees… withering, like your dampened soul
Trees so old, their snickering of agelessness
Is heard as they rustle their leafless branches
Paint the clouds with your tears my love
Drain your eyes of its beautiful mess
But know that a broken heart
Rarely stays broken forever
It will mend itself
It will grow out limbs
Take a needle and thread
It will painfully whip stitch itself
Back to completion
A Beautiful Mess
I get nervous, excited, scared and I cry
My tears a mixture of the pain I have
Mixed with the thrill of pleasure
Of growing peace
Not knowing what the future holds for me
I cry because there is a joy bubbling up
Waiting to explode inside of me
It’s kept in check
Sanity is necessary to keep going
Down the road I need to be on
To reach the destination that awaits
So long as I make the pilgrimage
I cry because words cannot explain
This medley of emotions that remind me
Of my humanity and its uncertainty
Or the bliss that awaits me on this journey
So, I cry
With a smile on my face, teeth gleaming,
Touching my hair, my face, my neck
I could isolate these feelings from myself
But I don’t
There is a rush
An organic high pulsing through me
Every bone and nerve in my body
That I have power
Yet I am powerlessly bombarded
By emotions that remind me
Of the distances I’ve traveled
The destinations I am headed
So, I cry…
Charcoal Book Tour – Short Story Excerpt
Story Excerpts from ‘Charcoal’
21 years old:
The vodunshi looked at my frail body which lay in front of the altar. My father had run out of options and money and so resorted to the only thing he knew he could count on, Vodun. Even if he did not want to_ since despite not attending church he had been baptized in the church_ my skin had been covered with sores that would not heal and my body was very weak. I could walk but barely. My entire body had been covered with these sores. Everywhere except my face and that was enough for me.
I was so pretty before these painful sores and could not wait for them to go away so I could strut my beautiful skin confidently once again to get my dream. Jesus would not come down to help me. Maybe in Thembi’s house he would have but definitely not in this slum. Jesus began to sound like a politician who made promises during the campaigning season. He made promises in his bible which I read meticulously wanting to be like him. But like the politicians, he always seemed to forget his way to the slum after elections. Jesus missed his way to my slum so I had to help myself so perhaps Jesus would meet me halfway there. Afterall, they say that he helps those who help themselves, so I just had to.
That’s what I thought when the sores initially started. I noticed them first on my left thigh but thought nothing of it. Every day I would generously smear the customized concoction cooked up by the local beautician which had been praised for its ability to magically remove the black and fade brown from the skin.
18 years old
I hated my black. It was as black as charcoal, and I wanted to be white like Jesus. I wanted to be able to get into an airplane and meet Jesus and the other white people in the place called America which I was sure was heaven. Every day I rubbed this concoction on my skin. It burned like fire, but they told me that was a good sign. It only meant it was working. There was even a rumor that if you wanted it to work faster, cover it with plastic. Doing this made the concoction burn 1000 times more but in as little as two weeks I had started to see results and I was automatically hooked to this painful regiment of beautification. I understood a long time ago that something always had to give and if I had to develop a high tolerance for pain to get closer to my dreams of flowers and kisses and gowns and that shiny tiara, to the dream of Jesus, the airplane and America, then so be it!
Daddy initially thought I looked silly when I had plastic bags of different shapes and colors wrapped around me. When he asked, I only said “to be a woman is to be beautiful.” He smirked and let me be. He never paid any mind; he had other things to worry about. This was until he started hearing some of the neighborhood boys talking about me saying, “Faasi come dey be oh! Even her skin color saf.” That evening when Daddy got home, he looked at me with a questioning look in his eyes. He never said anything to me but from that day, he watched me like a hawk. Now I wish I heard his silent prayers
About the Author:
Ami Tamakloe is a Ghanaian born American living multi-media storyteller whose work, she/they hope, makes humanity reckon with parts of itself. Ami works through fine, performance and media arts to foreground marginalized voiced especially on subjects of race, gender, and sexuality. Through art, intellect and advocacy, Ami hopes to create work that somewhat dents the scales of inequity towards equilibrium. Ami engages in collaborative work with artists in Africa and the Diaspora and has worked on projects such as Ufahamu Africa podcast, Adventures From and others. She has showcased her work and received recognition internationally. Ami is currently a PhD student at Cornell University in the department of Anthropology. She/they hold a Bachelor of Fine in Fashion Design from Kent State University.
Praises for Charcoal by Ami Tamakloe
‘Ami, your book was the bomb! I must confess I love short stories more than I do poetry, but you got me hooked! Looking forward to a lot more from you. Merry Christmas!’
‘I received this beautiful book with the powerfully written words of @ami_tamakloe and I am savoring the rich poetry and short stories. Thank you @oteanakanduro for bringing this work to my attention’
To purchase a copy of Charcoal, visit https://www.amitamakloe.com/books.