Thais Francis shares her fourth and final blog post about her recently completed Fresh Milk residency. Looking back on her time in Barbados, Thais is happy with the the focus that having a dedicated, peaceful working environment has afforded her, as well as the work she was able to do with the children at Workmans Primary School, overall leading to a very productive and inspiring residency period. Read more from Thais below:
“I heard you on the radio, are you here in Barbados?”
When I saw those words, I felt sad – because the answer was no. I am no longer in Barbados, I am back in America, and maybe I missed my opportunity to sit with you and thank you. Thank you for opening my eyes to a world of Caribbean literature, for introducing me to the Orishas and for being a pioneer. Who would have thought my NYU professor from 5 years ago would remember me and even find my email address? Who would’ve known he’d be listening to the radio right at the moment when I came on? He was the person who taught me how to look at words through an Afro-Caribbean point of view, thus shaping the person I am becoming. Kamau Brathwaite great writer and Barbadian, thank you. The next time I’m in Barbados you will not find out through the radio.
Had it not been for this residency, I would not have known my weaknesses. Have you ever had time to just sit and think? Sit under a tree, and read a book, or write in your journal, without any distractions? Thinking can be quite intense sometimes, but then it can be quite revelatory. You know how Stella went to Jamaica to get her groove back? It felt a little like that – thankfully I’m still young and I have not lost my groove, but I empathize with Stella. I got something in Barbados. I got the ability to fully see and carry on – even in the midst of not knowing. This is beginning to sound like a chapter from Eat Pray Love so I’ll be moving on with my point.
I have 136 pages of a screenplay. It may be good or it may be bad but I DID IT. I sat down and wrote, even when I was bored I continued, even when I wanted to go to the beach – I did it (sometimes I couldn’t resist the beach though). 136 pages later, I’m ready to continue. Writing a screenplay and seeing that into fruition on a screen seems like a never-ending process, but there is a skeleton, and writing in the studio really helped. Working with the children helped too. I figured I should share my gift. It’s fun to write for your own projects, but even better when you’re able to show kids that art is fun. Playing is fun. Dressing up, saying your name loudly, bowing when your classmates clap, imagining worlds and storytelling is fun. Life should be fun. I hope they learned as much from me as I did from them. I salute teachers. I salute Mrs. Bradshaw and Ms. Gatsby the principal of Workman’s and Annalee and the Fresh Milk team for making the space so aesthetically inviting.
All in all, it was a great experience. My quarter life identity crisis issues have somewhat abated, and now I must proceed. I’ll let you know when the movie comes out. Maybe I’ll have a screening in Barbados. Okay?