Mannequin Monday – Africa Rasta Hair Salon

Another mannequin waiting for someone to dress it. Words, sketches, clay, film, whatever media you choose. This week features a short story by writer, dramaturge and activist Bibish Marie-Louise Mumbu. And a brief interview with photographer Mark Seliger, done for The Creative Process. Lastly, a piece of my current writing.

This Week’s Reading and Discussion

On this Monday I’d like to share a story, Me and My Hair, by Bibish Marie-Louise Mumbu. The author, originally from Democratic Republic of Congo, now lives in Montreal. The narrator begins by walking the reader through her five hours in the Africa Rasta hair salon. Her thoughts run to the man who dumped her after three years together. She talks of “her anger in being scorned and her pride in her identity.” She muses on changing her hair style, shedding her dreadlocks for a lighter style. “I’m coming out of my dreds,” she says.

Photo of author Bibish Marie-Louise Mumbu at a microphone
Bibish Marie-Louise Mumbu, RFI, Pascal Gely

One of the truths expressed by the narrator: “Now I’ve been dumped, I’ve gotten used to the word, you know, it’s like I told you sometimes; we think we’re safe from some things, we trust time, words spoken, tender little words in writing, until the very same mouth that says I love you says something else, and you hurt so much that you want to hurt somebody else, but if it’s not your style, then what do you do?”

She finds her revenge. A new hair style. A hot outfit. A party. A new man.

Thanks to the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa for sharing the story with us.

This Week’s Podcast/Interview

Photo of renowned photographer Mark Seliger.
Photographer Mark Seliger, Mark Seliger Studio

Check out the podcast from The Creative Process with photographer Mark Seliger. It’s a brief 20 minute conversation about Seliger’s work photographing well-known celebrities. Interviewer Mia Funk asked Seliger how he finds a fresh approach to photographing people we have seen so many times. “Well, I think it’s all about the idea. You start from an idea.” He goes on to say, “And then when you come up with a great idea, then you’re basing the outcome in terms of the way that you perceive it, pre-emptively see it, rather than necessarily just go out and take the picture. So I try to work from an emotional aspect of the way that I think about a photograph either through, I call it a wink, which is like giving it a sense of life and a sense of humor. Or just like an emotional response from my viewer.”

Funk talks to Seliger about the hours of preparation that go into a photo shoot. “Usually, it’s just one or two things, and it’s either taken from a discussion I have with my subject, or it’s basically my own creation of getting to know them through the music they make, films they make, books they write; the world they live in. And so I just try to find out something about them and create a storyline.”

A great insight, I think, one that can apply as well to writers getting to know their characters. Finding out something about them and creating a storyline.

And in the shoot, Seliger says, “…there’s a moment where they let the guard down. That’s a sense of vulnerability.” Again, something a writer looks for in a character. The revelation of vulnerability. The moment of letting the guard down, showing themselves to the writer. Spilling emotion onto the page.

See the Mark Seliger Studio home page for touching, almost haunting, images of New York City under quarantine this April, done for Vanity Fair. It’s titled Silence in the Streets.

My Current Writing

I’m sharing my first attempt at writing a haiku in the traditional 5-7-5 format. Thanks for reading it.

Malibu

Blue sky canopy  

White-fringe surf at ocean edge

Bare feet on hot sand.