Review | Voodoonauts Presents: (ReLiving) Mythology, A Collection of Black Magical Stories & Poetry

“Her Black was Beautiful, expansive, endless, eternal, the only”
– L.P. Kindred

“I write to create myself.”

Octavia Butler

These are the words of the late Octavia Butler, a legend whose creativity and brilliance continue to dazzle our world; a trailblazer who recognized that writing is genesis, and that words are worlds. Pitted against a racist and sexist literary elite, raised in a world where her story was deemed unworthy of telling, where the wonder and beauty of Black voices and storytelling traditions were devalued and dismissed, Butler achieved the impossible. What she accomplished in her luminous career was nothing short of magic.

“Her Black was Beautiful, expansive, endless, eternal, the only” writes L.P. Kindred, one of many magnificent contributors to (Re)Living Mythology: A Collection of Black Magical Stories & Poetry, published by Android Press. Kindred’s “Stars Born Blue” is a creation myth in poetic verse. A Voodoonauts project, the anthology celebrates the diversity of magical traditions and genres of storytelling in the African continent and the diaspora. The collection’s editors, which include Shingai Njeri Kagunda, Yvette Lisa Ndlovu, H.D. Hunter, and L.P. Kindred, have carefully curated a range of stories, poems, and voices with unique styles in settings that range from Nigeria to Zimbabwe to South Carolina. In their introduction, they address you the reader, a reader they do not presume to be white, and invite you to “see yourself in blackness” (ix), to ‘create yourself’ as Octavia Butler did.

The journey begins with Lysz Flo, a spoken-word artist whose poem and its sequel, “La Siréne”, plunges you into the searing depths of Afro-diasporic seas, of Middle Passage and Mermaids, and “the creators of civilization” for whom the sea is both a tomb and a catalyst for libète. S.O. Arogunmati’s “The Names We Take”, tracks a parent on the run, a “thief of destiny”, whose daring quest to grant their child a better future invites spiritual repercussions. You might find yourself scratching after reading “The Feeding of Closed Mouths” by Eden Royce, which I read as a parable about fraught mother-daughter relationships and the pain that comes with transformation. Ernestine-Vera Kabushemeye Gahimbare’s “Paying Forward” will immerse you in the heart of an enchanted Burundian forest, where you will find death, mystery, and extraplanar intrigue. “The Visit”, by Tina Jenkins Bell, set in Chicago, will haunt you long after the last page is turned.

Tola Owolabi’s “Searching for Duni”, is a mythical commentary on the spiritual poverty of capitalism. Jermane Cooper’s “Adobe” will make you rethink what you know about tailoring. “A Missile Against the Darkness”, by Yvette Lisa Ndlovu, explores the messy paradox of Christians who by day “spit on ancestral magic” but at night seek the spiritual counsel of their Sangoma counterparts. “Seeds of Sisters” by Wesley Fox, might be the entry that is most science fiction, were it not for its breathtaking mythological structure. T.L. Huchu’s “Gogo Maroto”, is a surreal tale of ancestral legacies and self-discovery, set in Zimbabwe. Christopher Caldwell’s, “Both Hands”, is a quiet tragedy about the transmission of knowledge from one generation to the next. Referenced in the anthology’s vibrant cover art, Shingai Njeri Kagunda’s “The Lotus Woman”, is a poem about the scars we conceal in layers of shimmering blue fabric.

(Re)Living Mythology feels more like a continent than an archipelago; its poems and stories are an ensemble, like a choir of griots and sarunganos, they sing as one, resonating with the beauty and splendor of a thousand Black suns, of African worlds and ancestral realms, and the colorful looms of Matrons who spin the fabric of the cosmos into being.

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