My Story as Told… at Mixed-Race Faces


‘Not location, not race and not the skin colour make the basis of a friendship or love but the heart and soul’.

Yesterday, my story was featured @mixedracefaces. It is amazing to me that colour of one’s skin is a problem still and to so many… But then, on the other hand, it isn’t surprising because there are people out there who benefit from division. Those folks as well as individual ignorance keep us fighting with each other rather than celebrating our differences. When is this going to stop?

Well… Those naturally or ideologically divisive groups and individuals won’t change even if they are confronted with a better way. But then, ignorance can be cured (I believe) – with education and/or conversation. Hence, being mixed-race, I feel that it is necessary to talk about these things i.e. diverse cultural expressions or different colours of faces…

Initiatives like this one here encourage and remind me that as much as attempts to divide and conquer are part of this world so are the attempts to unite people… Without further ado, please click here to read my MIXED-RACE FACE STORY Enjoy! 🙂

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Poem, “I Can’t Breathe”


Picture Source: National Geographic

.If the world didn’t call out your name

You would be just one more number

Not the first nor the last…

Just another one… biting the dust…

.

But,

.

We’re weary of seeing blood being shed

Especially, by those who are meant to protect…

.

Except, he was pinned to the ground, unarmed!

“They’re killing me,” he said to his mum…

It’s a life that God gave and called her to deliver

When I think of it, as a mother, I shiver…

.

Mr. president, please, let’s call it what it is…

Not a sad incident nor a bad situation

Let’s call it “murder”, shall we?

That was the intention!

.

Third degree? Questionably…

“I can’t breathe,” he said, repeatedly…

.

“If you can say you can’t breathe, you’re breathing.”

Mr. Mayor, what the heck?

Would you like him to elaborate,

with a knee on his neck?

.

Mr. officer kept pressing that knee into him

While the whole world watched…

We, too, were gasping for air…

It made us feel sick, filled us with despair…

.

Even now, we’re holding our breath –

We want justice, for this premature death…

You can’t handle a man like he’s null and void

His life did matter. His name was George Floyd.

.

 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me…” Psalm 23:4

Mirage, Marriage, Memoir – Poem


Domestic Violence Freedom – Poem

He looked good and had a lot,
So she entered the mirage –
Only, she had failed to notice
Ugliness & lack, inside.
Their mirage turned to a marriage
From hell – especially for her…
Technically, it was not a marriage –
She was not the only girl.
Damn. Had she known before.
Man! Had she shut that door.

Now, things are not as they were
And there’s another… inside of her.
They remain together –
Every day is deader.
Well, at least for her –
He just doesn’t care.
She is black & blue,
Although born to the white race,
With red cigarette marks
All over her face…
“She’s such a good girl”, they say.

“How?! She doesn’t smoke…”, they ask.
They don’t want to dig too deep –
She feels “safe” behind her mask…
Many years ago,
Mum & dad (without a dime)
Saw their ‘once upon a time’…
Very quickly, in one voice,
They affirmed her choice.
They knew she would share the good life
‘Yes, our girl’s a rich man’s wife!’

Only now,
There’s too much drama
For daddy and mama…
And,
They feel like she failed
Because money’s still scarce –
They do get their share, but
they spend & they spend…
She is all alone, except…
There is Another inside of her.

She is finally getting there –
Fed up with sweet little lies
Turned to big & bitter crimes.
She is bound & very tired,
But she can pretend no more –
Keeps on choking on his waves,
But she’s swimming to the shore.
There’s a miracle there, for her…
Husband doesn’t want divorce,
But… he doesn’t really care.
Technically, he is not her husband –
She is not the only girl.

Now, she knows…
A graveyard may look like a park
Until you see its grave stones…
Finally, she’s been hurt enough –
He’s fractured enough of her bones.
Mirage turned into a marriage
Is becoming a memoir…
He will need to find an ashtray
To extinguish his cigar.

Poem from “Love, don’t Fear” – Poetry Collection

During lockdown and beyond, let’s look out for the victims of domestic violence. Their wounds may not be as obvious as “red cigarette marks all over her face”… ♥

Quick Novel Writing Update & Story Time


Big Ben Struck Nine Recording

Today, Ai was late for work. It was meant to be business as usual – deadlines, spreadsheets and a few simple telephone conversations. And it would be so… if the wind didn’t frustrate her clients by delaying deliveries from France. One of them kept yelling at Ai for half an hour.

“I’m so sorry, Mrs. Smith. I know it’s your sofa, but our vendors cannot deliver today because of the storm, in France.” Ai kept apologising for the delay whenever her client paused to catch a breath. 

“I paid fifty thousand pounds!” Mrs. Smith insisted. “That’s a five with four zeros, Ai!”

“Yes, I know. And, I’m sorry,” she answered while thinking – ‘I will let the wind know how much you paid!’

After work, Ai mounted her bike with great effort and began cycling down Brompton Road – slowly. Again, she thought about mother’s bulletproof plan for her life. University. Good job. Happiness. Done! She had followed that path to a T but now she was certain that the plan wasn’t that bulletproof, after all.

Suddenly, a paper bag flew across the road and landed on Ai’s face, blinding her. She snatched it and sent it flying in the air. Once again, the wind brought her back to reality. Too forcefully. Ai felt angry at the invisible bully, especially that she could not just report its abuse! But she kept on cycling – vigilantly.

Monika Ribeiro © 2020

So, that was yet another short excerpt from my novel in the making. Its title? Hmmm… I’ve been thinking about changing it – from “Everywhere & Always” to “Come Wind or Come Sun”. What do you think?

The title is not set in stone just yet, but chapter one is… And, I have shared it with my email subscribers. Yuppie! Please click here to READ IT RIGHT NOW.

Alternatively, I started posting short reading sessions on my socials like so…

 

Novel Writing Update – Story Time


“…but she did wonder if indeed one needed ‘all that money’. And if not, what did one need to be happy?” © Monika Ribeiro 2020

In a nutshell, my novel (in the making) titled “Everywhere & Always” is about the pursuit of happiness. And, you’ll probably agree that it’s almost impossible to explore happiness without addressing money…

So, I decided to throw some of my characters into riches and luxury to see who they really are… It gets interesting… That’s all I will say for now.😉

To begin introducing this theme, I gave Ai (one of those characters) a job at Harrods Knightsbridge which is where I used to work (in my early twenties)… Hmmm… I still remember dealing with vendors from the UK, Germany, France… chasing deliveries of 35,000 GBP sofas…

I used to wonder if I’d be happier sitting on a 35k sofa as opposed to a 1,5k sofa… 🤔 Well, my novel is fictional, but Ai too finds herself asking similar questions i.e. if one really needs ‘all that money’. And if not, what does one need to be happy?

I have been posting brief novel updates on my socials. Here… not so much, but I’ll do my best to change that. With that said, please Join me on Instagram too if you’d like to get regular glimpses into what’s cooking – glimpses like this one, below.

Back to my novel update though, I have received feedback regarding its first chapter. Aaaand, it was slightly underwhelming but fair. So, I decided to re-write the weaker parts of my opening, aaagain.

Honestly, novel writing turns out to be slightly more complicated than I thought it’d be… However, I am making progress. Accidentally, my rewritten first page has already earned the love of author and English teacher Desiri Okobia who said she’d use it for Year 11s’ creative writing lessons. Exciting!

So, to summarise my novel writing Update: I am rewriting… Aaagain. The promised first chapter of “Everywhere & Always” will drop in your inbox… in all its glory… soon! If… you have subscribed that is. Please do RIGHT HERE.

One More Poem – Shielded Memories


Picture taken from Barbara Campbell’s Facebook Profile

I had said that while working on my novel I’d put the brakes on writing poetry. And, I have kept to that until now. However,on Wednesday, my friend/mentor’s body was cremated. I had been invited to say a few words at her funeral…

Barbara was a big supporter of my poetry and often expressed her desire to be in the audience when I performed. Sadly, that never happened, but I thought a brief speech in poetry form was what she would have appreciated.

She died from dementia. I couldn’t stop crying every time I saw her in the final years of her life. In the most difficult times, her family and friends saw things that most would probably wish to unsee… While that’s impossible, my prayer for them and anyone who lost a loved one to this or any other monster disease is that the beautiful memories become more powerful in their minds than the bad ones.

Dementia is crude and cruel. However, Babs was and will always be a lady in my mind. I wrote this short, simple poem to celebrate that memory of her.

She is gone, but her legacy and the beautiful memories live on.

Lady B.

I call you ‘Lady’ – ‘Lady B.’ actually

International woman filled with dignity

A little stern when need be but sweet when you knew

That your heart was safe and a friendship was true…

 

So many friendships are make-believe.

 

You did not find your El Dorado. There was not enough time.

But the monster that ended your quest cannot stop you now!

You were such a star… I felt warm in your light…

We know you were here. You don’t have to fight…

Anymore.

 

I still laugh thinking of you speaking Patois to me

I am not Jamaican, but felt I could be…

When we laughed.

You left solid love chunks for your people down here…

And, you left quite a few… just for me.

 

Thank you for your time and mentoring –

Not only in good journalism or editing skill…

Thank you for your heartening when I wanted to quit.

 

You’ll be missed, Lady B.

That is who you are and will be to me…

I’ll remember your passion moving past the pain!

I’ll remember your laughter in spite of the rain

And the violent storm that came…

 

It is gone now.

It’s okay, Lady B.

Wait in Him for us… R.I.P.♥

 

Written by Monika Ribeiro

                                                                                                                                                      In loving memory of Barbara Campbell

Let’s Make the Most of Our Time…


My 2019 ended… well… with passing away of one of my mentors and friends. Mine and other journalists’ tributes have just been published by the Voice News. And, I couldn’t start 2020 without acknowledging the impact this editor/publisher and friend had on my writing and life.

“…Barbara Campbell trained me as a journalist while I was freelancing for Black Heritage Today and International Women’s Month magazines. She taught me how to write feature articles, conduct journalistic interviews, research and more. She welcomed me into her home and heart as well.

“I remember proudly presenting my first feature to her. It was embellished – quite “flowery”. She cut so much out. I got upset thinking she took my soul out of the piece. I then showed it to my friend who had read the original. She didn’t hesitate to tell me that Barbara’s pen made it better. So, I decided to stop mourning my style and started paying attention. 

‘HER HEART BLED FOR THE BLACK COMMUNITY’

“Barbara knew exactly what she wanted to say and how she wanted to say it. Her heart bled for the black community and for black stories to be told the RIGHT WAY. I could see a flame in her eyes when she spoke about how much the community needed positive role models and narratives. That passion drove her and made her fight tirelessly against financial, physical and all other odds. It was tough on her, especially towards the end. Sometimes, I think she sacrificed her life for it.”

Speaking about the lasting impact that Campbell had on her life, Ribeiro says:

“These few words are not enough to summarise the impact she made on me as a writer. When I decided not to pursue journalism, she encouraged my poetry and gave me a poet’s corner in Black Heritage Today. In one of her recommendations, she said ‘…Anytime, she is performing l hope to be there – cheering from the front!’ Sadly, she never made it to my shows, but I still hear her voice in my head reminding me to use the word ‘reportedly’ just in case… I edit my stories the way she taught me. Her heart and skills are part of my writing. She was an excellent journalist, editor, boss lady, teacher and friend…”

Please read the rest of mine and other tributes on the Voice News Website.

I wish you and myself a Happy New Year. Let’s make the most of our time here and let’s appreciate friends and family while there’s still time.

Everywhere & Always – A Story Waiting to be Told


“It was one of those afternoons when the beautiful summer sun chased even zealous hermits out their four walls. All but one. Her curtains were closed all day. She didn’t notice the sun’s rays and her skin couldn’t feel its warmth…”

Yes, there’s a new book in the making!

The first draft is done. Yuppie! However,… Yes, there’s a however… I have a bunch of revisions ahead of me still. There’s a vague release date in my mind but I’m not going to share it just yet. Undoubtedly, it is going to take some time before the book’s out. That’s not a bad thing though. Quality is what I’m after…

So, I’ve already spent some time revising the first chapter – over and over and over again…

I believe it is strong enough to capture your imagination, but… Yes, there’s a “but”. I thought it’d be smart to ask a few other storytellers for feedback. I’m waiting to hear from them, at the moment. Once I’m confident that I’ve done the chapter justice I am going to share it with my e-mail subscribers. I can’t wait!

Please Join Us if you’d like me to share glimpses of my novel in the making with you.

So now… The title…  [drumroll] “Everywhere & Always”

It is a story of a multiracial friendship between four people from  different cultural backgrounds… Taking place in a world that doesn’t always get it… It is about their pursuit of happiness; identity search and breaking away from the society’s expectations to pursue their own respective destinies…

Life events force Ai, Alma, Emilio and Jack to face their fears and make choices: love or money; truth or freedom; forgiveness or torment, sadness or joy… Ohhh…

I feel like giving away a little more… I hope this isn’t a spoiler. Nope, I don’t think it is. The book begins with “trouble in paradise”. Yes, their friendship is tested, and the journey begins. I’ll add this for good measure – one of the characters is a drama queen… who’s suffering from depression to top it all off.

But don’t worry – the others are lovely… or not… 😉

Click to Subscribe (via email) and Find Out for Yourself.

7 Answers – Interview & Introduction


7 Questions.jpgA few months ago, I was featured in “Seven Questions…” – a popular column of a UK based newspaper for the Polish diaspora. The interview format was quite unusual. I was given a number of one word/two-word questions to choose from and asked to develop answers based on whatever reflections they triggered in my mind.

When the interview came out I promised my English-speaking readers its translation, so here it comes – slightly adapted for this blog but true to the heart of our conversation.

Monika Ribeiro

Writer, Poet. Published two books with inspiring poetry and short stories – “Do Lend Me Your Ears” and “Love, don’t Fear” – currently writing her third book (epic novel). She comes from Poland, completed a master’s degree course in marketing and management at the University of Szczecin. She has lived in London for the past 15 years.

Colour

Black and white, hence brown… like my skin which reflects the fusion of two cultures – Nigerian (my dad’s side) and Polish (my mum’s). My parents met when they were students at the Technical University of Lodz. For the first few months after I was born, subsequently every now and then: I’ve lived there with them – in a student home. Skin colour means nothing because we all belong to one race – human race.

Place

The old town of Barcelona. The beach, sun, museums, beautiful antique buildings, music… One of my visits, about 4 years ago, is especially engraved in my memory. One morning, in the search of peace I discovered Museu Frederic Marés… I spent half of my day there – writing, staring at tourists and artists immersed in high-focus drawing… I lost the sense of time. On the other hand, London is the city where I don’t feel different – where I can get lost in the crowd. Here, I met my husband Miguel, started my adult life and gave birth to three kids.

Life’s Motto

Never Give Up because Nothing is Impossible. This thought subtly but consistently re-appears in my poetry and life choices.

Join me on Insta

Hobby

Writing. It’s my passion, therapy and career choice. It’s great when a reader or listener comes back to tell me how much they appreciate my creations, but the writing process is just as important as the final effect. During the process, I experience an emotional catharsis and feelings stronger than those I get whilst travelling because when you write you’re allowed to create new places instead of merely discovering them. The book I’m working on now is about love, friendship, the pursuit of happiness, finding God and fighting for your dream…

Music

It has to be positive and spirit lifting. Melody, of course, is important but first and foremost, I care about the lyrics and the atmosphere a musical piece creates…

Book

The Bible. 15 years ago, I was in Paris visiting Ayo (who authored the foreword to my book “Love, don’t Fear”). One evening, in preparation for travel, she was packing her suitcase: clothes, jewellery, a storm of colours. What struck me was that, in spite of a relatively small travel-bag, she packed three bibles – English, German and French… Many things have happened since then, but the Scriptures still are my main spiritual food. They helped me get rid of a few-year long depression and they’re the source of daily wisdoms I have not found in any other book.

Film

“Rocky” with Sylvester Stallone. A story about a small-time boxer realising his dreams of becoming the heavy-weight world champion. I watched the series a few times and will probably watch them again. Highlights – literal and metaphorical battle, facing his opponent but mostly himself, love… Main message – fight until the end, don’t lose faith, love and respect others…

 

If you speak Polish, see the first pic above with the original interview. Join me on Instagram too.