In the soil that feeds Abena Beloved Green’s family tree, a place of nutrients and knowledge that helps grow chlorophyll-packed leaves, inspiration was waiting to be dug up like treasure. “I always had a reverence for grandmothers and always envied classmates who were close to their grandmothers and would talk to them,” the lauded slam poet and author says. But when her own grandmother (who lived in Ghana) passed away, it was a door closing—and a seed of an idea erupting to fill the loss’ space.
The result of that digging and asking? Ode To The Unpraised: Stories and Lessons from Women I Know, an ambitious mix of prose and poetry that feels equal parts soul-salving succour and handy life hack.
With a writing voice influenced by Nikky Finney and Jericho Brown, Green cut her creative teeth in the world of slam poetry, where she was a finalist in 2017’s Canadian Individual Poetry Slam and winner of the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia Atlantic Writing Competition in 2016. She has since become the first writer-in-residence for the YWCA Halifax. Her first book was a collection of poems, called The Way We Hold On—but Ode sees her moving more towards words that “have not lived off of the page as much.”
Since its mid-pandemic release and official launch last month, Ode has landed on Bookmark Halifax’s bestseller list (a fact Green learns in our interview)—proof that while these are words that haven’t lived much off the page, they do have residence in many a reader’s mind.
“Stretch out your hands and see who you can touch in your life. And looking at those people in a new way: That was how it happened for me,” Green adds. Looking at people you see everyday differently “makes much more fascination into your life, like: Oh, like I didn't know that that's who this person was.”