Words for the People: Reclaiming joy
If we turn joy inside out, what do we find?
On this episode, Kentucky Poet Laureate Crystal Wilkinson peers underneath deep joy to expose roots of heartache and struggle. Author Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggits, who grew up in Louisville, reveals that “grief and trauma live in the same place as joy.” Her most recent publication is the critically-acclaimed book, “Black Joy: Stories of Resistance, Resilience, and Restoration,” about how joy has evolved in the midst of hardship in her own life story.
During the conversation, Tracey recalls a time when she did not know what joy felt like in her own body. “If you would’ve told me five years ago that I would be writing about joy…I would’ve laughed,” Tracey admits. However, it was within her grief that she found eyes to more clearly see the gifts around her. Now Tracey hosts a Black Joy Happy Hour on social media and helps others reclaim moments of joy.
This episode's emerging author is our youngest guest yet! Ten-year-old King El-Amin is a creative writer and artist from Lexington who shares how he experiences joy from his family, wet kisses from his amazing dog, and wearing a fabulous crown. “It gives me a boost of confidence,” he explains, and that helps him boost everyone around him. You won't want to miss King reading his award-winning poem, "Black Boy Joy!"
As always, there is exceptional writing advice woven into the conversations. Tracey summons her Grandmother’s wisdom to “take the meat and spit out the bones,” and addresses the important process of managing distractions when so much is competing for our energy. King speaks with wisdom beyond his years about the elusive nature of recognition for art-makers. “Even if I didn’t win the contest, I knew that I liked it and I knew that was all that mattered.” King also tells Crystal about the writing camp he designed for his classmates that has transformed bullies into buddies.
Whether you are 10 or 110, Tracey and King offer compelling ideas to reclaim joy in an exhausted, hurting world. Sometimes you just gotta get up and groove or put on a sparkly crown to counter the persistent anxieties we absorb. However you find it, joy has the power to stabilize and sustain us in the days we are living!