will the circle be unbroken

jamelah e.

For the current foray into Iron Photography, the elements are:

1 - something that reflects your heritage
2 - used paper
3 - negative space

It's an interesting set of elements, and I had a hard time thinking of what to include, because what to include? Which heritage? Which aspect of that heritage? Blah blah. I think I've written about this enough that it feels like incredibly old news by now, so the brief version (as an introduction to the items in this photo) is that I have an interesting background, I suppose, in that my mom is from Arkansas and my dad is from Yemen. The lands of my ancestors: cotton fields and deserts. Of course, many people are mixed up this way, or in interesting ways, completely different cultures colliding and creating a single person, and perhaps the reason I feel the disconnect between the two heritages so strongly is because I'm right in the middle of them. This is my first-generation experience.

I feel equally Arab, and, despite the fact that I was born and raised in Michigan, Southern too. I like hummus and I say "y'all" in equal measure. Pita bread. Cornbread. It's all good.

So, the items in this photo:

The book is one of my (maternal) grandfather's songbooks. It's full of gospel songs, and it's not incredibly clear, but the music is shape-note, which is a type of musical notation that tells people which tone to sing based on which shape the note is drawn (it's a wee bit, but not a whole lot, clearer larger) and though I think I read somewhere that it's a dying form, it was popular in the South. I used to hear stories about my grandfather being a good singer, and that on Sunday afternoons after church, the family would sing. I don't remember hearing my grandfather sing -- as he got older, he couldn't do it anymore. But when I was very young, he'd sing "Froggy Went A-Courtin'" to me, and if I try really hard, I can almost grasp the sound of it.

The necklace lurking in the background was a graduation gift from my aunt, my dad's sister, and it is a talisman to ward off the evil eye. Those are big in Arab culture. (You can see this better in this photo from more than a year ago, if you like.) And the scrap of paper lurking even further in the background is used in a couple of different ways: first, I wrote on it, and second, it's been used in a photo already.

So there it is.

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