The clouds converse
Over a glass of sunset.
The sky is drunk
– “Light” by HawaH, The Poetry of Yoga, V. 2, 35.
Born in New Jersey, HawaH spent a portion of his youth in India and has since traveled to over 30 countries. Exposure to the Third World opened his eyes to the less fortunate here as well as abroad. In 1998, he took a year off from college to join Americorps as a community organizer and mentor to youth in poverty-stricken sections of Washington, D.C. He then returned to American University to complete his degree in Peace and Educational Philosophy. Soon after, he co-founded One Common Unity, a non-profit that receives 50% of the proceeds from sales of The Poetry of Yoga.
CK: Yours has not been a journey travelling a straight path from point A to point B. How has such a peripatetic lifestyle been essential to you as an artist?
HawaH: The road we take is long and winding, and there are some doors we open, some we walk by, and some we knock on but nobody answers. I knew from a young age that I would hold myself accountable to the privilege of my birth in the United States. I always knew I wanted to give back. I was just never sure exactly how I would be most effective. This question is still the one that consumes my thoughts.
As an artist my creativity is sparked by consistently putting myself in new places. New situations that shake my world perspective bring fire to art. Often when I’m traveling to new places I find myself drawing more, painting more, writing more poetry. There is something about being in the same place all the time that makes it difficult for me to be as artistically expressive, but being in the same place for extended periods allows me to build institution and put my hands into the roots of community.
Being an artist has been a challenge to me as I feel it sometimes takes away from my ability to dedicate myself as an organizer and activist. The rush of adrenalin that drives art requires me to be introverted and in solitude…but in the work of community building and setting fire to revolutionary pursuits, I have to be immersed in constant communication. Doing art in collaboration with others is another option, but it is of course a different kind of creativity than the one birthed from solitude.