Tawhida Tanya Evanson

Tawhida Tanya Evanson (Photo credit: Temmuz Arsiray) Picture | Omniverse Project
Photo credit:
Temmuz Arsiray

Tawhida Tanya Evanson is an Antiguan-Québécoise poet, author, artist and arts educator. Her two poetry collections are Bothism (Ekstasis 2017) and Nouveau Griot (Frontenac 2018), and her debut novel Book of Wings (2021) is fresh from Véhicule Press. With a 25-year practice in spoken word, she performs internationally, has released several studio albums and videopoems including the award-winning Almost Forgot my Bones. In 2013, she was Poet of Honour at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word and received the Golden Beret Award for her contribution to the genre. She is program director of The Banff Centre Spoken Word Residency and vice president of The Quebec Writers’ Federation. Born and based in Tiohtià:ke/Montréal, she moonlights as a whirling dervish.


History Prompt

Tell an ancestral story. Begin with a story about your father, then your father’s father, and so on. Or consider a father figure in your life, someone you truly admire who has been your guide – real or imagined. The story should tell us when, where, who, what happened, why it’s important, what the challenge was and what crescendo took place. The story does not need to have a resolution or ending but should have a lesson for us all.

Craft & Writing

Sound Wave

When we speak of writing then we speak of language, which is sound. All sound is inherently powerful. Every human community has a tradition of communication through sound. We have been giving each other music since time! Our human music is paired with gesture and sign to transmit idea, knowledge, information, memory, cultural material and art. These are the origins of literature from way back when the human being was the living book; the book of poems. You are that book.

When we speak of writing then we speak of language, which is rhythm. Attune YOUR EARS / to the sound of words. Find THE RHYTHM / in words joined together and let that beat GUIDE the writing alongSIDE the message. Listen ACTIVEly to the person speaking the cicada buzzing that birdsong and the machine hum that we ALLLLLLLLLLL created. / If we do NOT pay attention NOW, thunder or gunfire will surprise us later. / Recognize the RHYTHM and bring it into WRITING. Recognize the RHYTHM and bring it into LIVING.

When we speak of writing then we speak of language, which is poetry. Non-fiction evidence of life from all possible perspectives. Verse carried inside your memory bank. All forms flow from this source, from epic to TikTok. Write in the lineage of your ancestors if you can or in the lineage of your spiritual path and move it forward! In the name of Ptahhotep’s Kemetic wisdom, Enheduanna’s Sumerian hymns, The Epic of Sundiata and Rumi’s Masnavi as told spontaneously to his scribe Chalabi, in the name of all stories that tell the truth, write as if all that remained were your love, astronomy and almanac—keep it revolutionary and sublime, as if written in rock.

Craft Work

  1. Keep a journal; work the longhand
  2. Write what you see around you; how you live, who you love
  3. Write what you’ve lost, what you’ve found
  4. Your understanding of the world, how it works
  5. Write yourself into the world
  6. Develop a writing ritual
  7. Be a Zen Master of grammar and spelling
  8. A Sufi Lover of sound and language
  9. An African Passion Poet of longing
  10. Take a guide; leave a guide
  11. Writing is work; you are supposed to study
  12. Listen to elders, ancestral voices and your own body
  13. Spend time in the Invisible World
  14. Explore the secret of secrets; fire itself; Love
  15. Contemplate the heart, your internal reality
  16. Observe and record everything
  17. Question, Reflect, Predict the future
  18. Read Read Read widely and in-depth
  19. Experiment with different subjects and types of writing
  20. Take risks; write what is urgent
  21. Tell the truth, trust your voice; harmonize with the Voice of Voices
  22. Give yourself permission to be yourself
  23. Be music, song, dance and chant
  24. What is natural in you, take it and strengthen it; codify it
  25. Notice the Dot
  26. Time travel both ways, wormhole it; change perspectives
  27. Work on empathy; be a better human to be a better writer
  28. Work in the community
  29. Be in ceremony all the time
  30. Choose your words wise
  31. Exercise, drink tea
  32. Don’t be afraid to edit
  33. The reader is your friend; the reader is You
  34. See what your mind can do
  35. Go for the jugular

Craft & Writing Prompt

Four Sufi Questions

  1. How did you spend your time on earth?
  2. How did you earn your living?
  3. How did you spend your youth?
  4. What did you do with the knowledge we gave you?


Performance anxiety and excitement can sometimes take our breath away. And so we honour the heart and lungs, but above all, breath. Our breathing wants attention and practice as well as thanks and appreciation on a ritual basis. There are many ways to do this—something as simple as sitting immobile in a quiet place and taking three deep breaths is a way to begin. Now. When we hold our breathing in highest regard, it is a doorway between worlds.

And so in the name of all compassionate sounds     

For all those who have come before and will come again    I implore you                 Allow us this

First                   Are you wearing comfortable clothing ?        

For this exercise let nothing distract you       

If your jeans are cutting off your circulation

Undo the top button                

(Nothing inappropriate my friends)

Next, make sure you’re sitting down                              Let go of your phone                     It’s alright

Your legs                         Hips                                  Nose                                Toes                   Vanish              

Push the sky with top of the head

Swaying            gentle                side                    to side                    Back                   and forth

Listen to the voice inside yourself                    Not my voice                         Your voice               The same

Everything                                   Slowing down now                                                     

IN          H           A           L            E                                                    EX         H           A           L            E  slow

IN                        HA                      LE          Stretch your arms UP            Take a deep breath IN

EXHALE arms coming down slow                      Your hands, a cup in your lap    or cupping the thighs              

Shoulders         Low                    Jaw       Lax                      Waist                 Legs      Position            Up

Sit                                    Tall                     Curve                 Spine                 Slight                 Light        

Lotus                 Knees                Half                    Bent                           Up                      Right                 

Calm      Slow                 Breath               Wheel               Turn                   Real                   

Eyes                   Down                See                      Not                             Floor                All                       Fall Way                                 Eyes                   Half                          Closed               Open                 Head   

Up                                                 Chin                                              Light                                             Lips

Closed                                                        Tongue               Slight                               Teeth            Top

Touch                                                                       Right                           Wave                               Eyes

Loose                                                                                      Heavy               Lid        Low   Gaze

Down                                                                        Gentle               Centre               Float           Down    

Doing Non doing                                                                     Doing            Non doing                      Doing Non doing                                                                         Doing            Non doing

Performance Prompt

In performance as in exercise, two organs come into action: the heart and the lungs. The heartbeat quickens, muscles tense and lungs consume more oxygen. The body in performance is in flux! It is flushed and awakened—as it should be. To memorize a text for performance, try repeating the text out loud while walking up a mountain, a hill or some other natural landscape. If you can, go outside and change your breathing, your feet will find their rhythm, the heart and lungs will dance. Walking meditation in nature has a way of activating the body, the imagination and the memory banks.