By Emily Carlson
Fergus Falls Journal
September 14th, 2018
It’s hard to think of a country that Mai’a Williams has not lived or worked in. The writer has spent her time all over the world and is compiling all of these experiences together to shine through her writing. She now is spending a week in residency through Springboard for the Arts Hinge Arts program in Fergus Falls.
As said before, Williams has shared her talents with many people from all over the world. During her artist talk at Springboard for the Arts Tuesday afternoon, she quickly ran through her life story to attempt to fill us listeners into how she ended up in Fergus Falls for a residency program. Somewhat tricky to follow, but most certainly impressive, she shared how she grew up in Washington D.C. and went to school in New York. From there Williams moved in Palestine in 2003 and lived in the West Bank for a year. Next came some time in eastern Africa where she moved to Egypt.
When violence started overtaking Egypt, Williams and her daughter moved to Germany as immigrants. Since then she and her daughter have moved back to the United States and now live in Minnesota. She participated in the Standing Rock protests for four days during the time when 145 people were arrested at the site. “It was actually a pretty heavy weekend,” Williams said, “It’s this incredibly vibrant, community healing space.”
Although she worked as a journalist throughout these years, Williams has writing long before these jobs. “I came to journalism through poetry,” Williams said, “I realized the one thing I could do is write.” At her artist talk, Williams shared with the group some of her original poetry. The first, “Paper Dreams,” relates to her experience during the Egyptian Revolution and the Arab Spring.
Williams has written and co-written three books. These include two books of poetry,“Monsters and Other Silent Creatures,” which takes from stories that were revealed out from Wikileaks, and “No God but Ghosts.” The third book, “Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines,” is a “collection of writing and visual art about mothering on the margins,” according to PM Press. Edited along with Alexis Pauline Gumbs and China Martens, the book is published by PM Press and has become their most popular book.
“I really adore this book,” Williams said regarding “Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines,” She said that she often runs out of copies as she is traveling and this proved to be true in Fergus Falls, as well. The book was inspired by many of William’s experiences. According to PM Press, “It was her living and working with Palestinian, Congolese, and Central American indigenous mothers in resistance communities, that initially inspired her to become a mother and continues to guide her as she practices this life-giving work called radical mothering.”
Currently, Williams is working on a memoir, “This is How We Survive: Revolutionary Mothering, War, and Exile in the 21st Century.” The book will describe William’s, “experience working in conflict zones and with liberatory resistance communities as a journalist, human rights worker, and midwife in Palestine, Egypt, Chiapas, Berlin, and the U.S. while mothering her young.” Those who have read her book before or those looking to find a new book can look forward to December 2018 when the book is scheduled to be published.