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Record – a poem from the Amazon

Where the Tocantins and Itacaiúnas rivers meet, during the recent drought




The youth stares at his imprisoned canoe

a bleached skeleton in the cracked earth.

Intuitively, he plants his feet on the arrowhead of earth

where the Rivers Tocantins and Itacaiúnas meet

and slowly, with shame, presses ‘record’.

I’m Nego, son of a fisherman and washerwoman.

I was born here, Cabelo Seco, where it all began…

The cliche echoes in centuries of protective silence

that hides him from his own afro-roots.    

I’ve never seen this…, no-one can remember…

Dry tears fill the cellars of his voice.

His finger points to the horizon in flames.

How will I explain to my grandkids, they died 

from such greed and complicity, before birth?

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Amazon Diary

Dan Baron Cohen Amazon Diary

Dan Baron is a performance educator, living in the Amazonian afro-indigenous community of Cabelo Seco, Pará. After doctoral research into ‘theatre as education’ at Oxford University, Dan began his ‘transformance’ project in Manchester, moving to Derry in 1988, to the Rhondda in 1994. and, in 1998, to Brazil. Collaborations with at-risk landless, indigenous, trade union and school communities, generated collective performances, murals, sculptures, and in 2008, the Amazonian Rivers of Meeting project. In 2012, Dan co-founded its Community University of the Rivers with the AfroRaiz Collective. As Chair of the World Alliance for Arts Education (2006-10), and member of the World Social Forum international council, Dan advocated arts education for sustainable futures. Dan publications include ‘Theatre of Self-Determination’ (Derry, 2001), ‘Cultural Literacy’ (São Paulo, 2004), ‘Harvest in Times of Drought’ (Marabá, 2011), and numerous essays.

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