The Movement of Birth to Rebirth

Artist: Myrtle Henry Sodhi

This is a story of sound and body. A story about how parts of my sonic lineage that I discovered within my body. For a long time I could not move my body freely. I didn’t hear the beat of the drum in my body. I did not make sounds with ease either. My stutter was a barrier between the world and I. When I learned to make sound with my body I found movement there too. I found a lineage of sound that included my great-grandmother Ma Bessie. Ma Bessie was responsible for keeping the stories alive for our village. My mother often tells me that Ma Bessie would stutter severely through the storytelling. She did not let the choking attempts at sound stop her voice and the stories of her community.

During my discovery of sound and movement I found that I was filled with waves in my hips–swirling creativity with life. I soon recognized that the sound and movement within my body echoed the waves and sounds of the sea. There I met Yemoja and my lineage grew. I was always drawn to water but did not know that water would be the source of finding my voice and my body.

Later, I developed a strong desire to make salt from the Atlantic ocean. This urge started during the pandemic where we were indoors for most of our waking hours. I desperately wanted to be covered in salt water and feel the soft sting of it on my eyes and the sharp warming taste on my tongue. When I got the chance to go back to my birth place of Dominica the first thing I did was to run to the sea. I felt a welcome that was more like a return. I made my way to the Atlantic ocean and began the process of making salt. It was then that I was told that my great-grandmother, Ma Bessie used to make salt. The same Ma Bessie whose stutter I inherited. The same Ma Bessie whose role of storyteller I took up. The same Ma Bessie who I honour in all my work as an artist, a woman of Earth, Sea and Breath. The same woman who never stopped telling the stories the village needed despite the choking of sound on her throat.

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About the Artist

Myrtle Henry Sodhi

Myrtle Henry Sodhi’s multi-modal practices act as an echo-locator (Gumbs, 2020) which invites people to locate themselves in the stories that emerge. As a “sankofic” storyteller she shares stories using visual, auditory, and experiential methods. She is a new world creator who supports others in their own re-creation efforts.

Through the process of reclaiming her inherited Afro-Caribbean Indigenous storytelling role she uses her work to uncover stories located in the body. The Body Speaks (2022) is a civic engagement project and gathering that offered women of colour the opportunity to uncover stories located in the body through interviews, paintings and photovoice. This action research participatory project led to the creation of the Beyond Strong Community- a personal and collective care community that uses arts based methods as a way of accessing joy, ease, and liberation. Myrtle is currently a PhD student at York University in the Faculty of Education.